The Wheelers are a fantastic crew, so full of joy and life. How could you not be with 4 amazing kids? Nate is the pastor of our church and I've gotten to know Rachel pretty well serving on the MOPS steering team and for a brief period of time, running (read: dying) together after dropping kids off at school.
When Rachel inquired about a family lifestyle photo session, I knew immediately how I wanted to approach the session. But I kept it to myself. I wanted to hear from Rachel first and see what she thought would be important to capture. So I sent her my usual questionnaire, designed to get clients to tell me all about those things that make their family interesting and unique.
Now I can't even count how many times I have heard about the 'garage band' that the Wheeler kids have started. For a while there, Nate used the Jesus Cruisers (as the oldest boys Britain & Noah dubbed the band) to illustrate his point in every other sermon or so. He's told so many stories of their musical escapades and 'concerts', that I really couldn't believe it when I got the questionnaire back and there was no mention of the band whatsoever. There is a question that asks if you would like my help figuring out what to do for your session...that box was checked 'yes'.
Are we as parents just so enmeshed in the day-to-day, that we can't recognize those magical little idiosyncrasies that make our family OUR FAMILY? Those things that our children do that we will forever recount the stories of? Those small traditions that will become defining aspects of 'childhood' for our kids? If I'm honest with myself, I think maybe we are. Or at least we have a hard time seeing any of those things as interesting enough to build a photoshoot around.
I immediately replied to Rachel with the concept of an open air Jesus Cruisers concert with her and Nate as the audience. Sure, the kids usually do their concerts in their bedroom, likely NOT dressed in perfectly coordinating neutral toned outfits. But that isn't the point. The point is to celebrate the everyday moments in fun and beautiful ways.
With Rachel on board we set about planning, finding a location, and coordinating outfits. Because I am a sucker for detail shots to round out a story, I asked her to have the kids make a sign with their band name on it and tickets to the show. I couldn't be more excited about the end result. I feel like it really captures the imagination and childhood ability to dream boldly, without fear of failure. But most importantly, I know we've got a visual record to a story that these kids will certainly be telling their own children about 30 years from now. And who knows...maybe there's a future album cover shot in there somewhere.
Click play to see the show!
If you're sitting there thinking my kids would never be so well behaved during a photoshoot, I will tell you a little secret. The actual shoot was total chaos. Naomi didn't want to be the lead singer and was prone to tears over it. Josiah was so enthusiastic about his role as keyboardist that he would periodically break from the 'stage' for a celebratory run thru the grass...usually right about the time all of the other kids were looking perfect. Noah (the drummer) and Britain (guitarist) only had about a song and a half in them before they became more interested in wrestling with each other and climbing trees. We also totally forgot about the tickets until we were packing up to leave. Once all the kids were buckled into the car, I snagged Nate and Rachel for one last detail shot.
And you know what? That's all ok! No one is perfect and perfect is boring. I'll choose imperfections and misbehaving every single time. Because it's real (and because I love to leave a shoot tired and sweaty so I can count it as exercise). So if you're sitting there dreaming about your next family photos, but dreading the idea of trying to corral your kids into the perfect grouping and coaxing smiles out of them...just stop. Bring your bedlam to me and we'll make some magic!
Thanks so much for reading and watching! If you would be so kind as to leave a comment below, you will help to earn Nate and Rachel a FREE 8x10 mounted print from their session. They need 50 people to comment before they can claim their reward.
Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design.
Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography