During a bright autumn morning earlier this week, I was invited to spend time documenting one of my favorite friend's family. There was a sharp chill in the air during our session, but this family's children emanates joy strongly and they immediately warm your soul.
I typically spend time with Kelly and her kids at least once a week. The "Gunther Group," as my children call them, are some of my kids' best friends. Despite seeing this family regularly, it was during this session that I once again realized why I love being a photographer: the connection. As a photographer, I am invited to observe intimate moments and to witness a person's true self. Of course, photography can quickly become a lie with posing, fake smiles, and extreme Photoshop editing, but I have no interest in that kind of work or in false connections. The clients who hire me and with whom I choose to work understand my value of authenticity and it is an honor to be permitted into their intimate spaces. So, even though I play with the Gunther children every week, after our photography session I felt like I understood each child more fully and on their own unique individual level.
The mother, Kelly, has been my good friend for years and a go-to-girl when I need someone to commiserate with over the challenges of parenthood. I feel like we already knew each other quite well, yet, as I went through the photographs from our session, I found myself tearing up. Kelly is incredibly beautiful. Of course, I was already aware of my friend's beauty. However, when we visit together, we're overrun with children, making it challenging to notice anything beyond the kids' enthusiastic energy. Moreover, the pictures of her and her husband, Elwood, speak their truth. Due to Elwood's job, he frequently is required to leave his family for months at a time. Having never been faced with similar circumstances, it has been hard for me to understand how their relationship continues to thrive. As I go through the pictures of Kelly and Elwood though, my question is answered. By simply looking at the photographs of these two, you can feel their deep connection and the power that holds them together, making long-distance loving survivable.
It was a delight and an honor to capture this family's joyful love and without further-ado, I give you the Gunther Family.