Saturday, February 12, 2011

Meet Grace, Jake, Luke, Mike & Sherry

Since I've been taking pictures, it's always interesting to me to watch the different dynamics in families. I grew up with those pictures of everyone posed neatly around the fake fireplace. Mom and Dad would be positioned in the middle and the kids would be staged around them with their fake smiles beaming. It looked like they would all spontaneously combust if the photographer snapped one more picture. My friend, Amanda, did a really funny blog post about these kinds of pictures a couple of weeks ago and it made me think about when I started taking pictures. I had a tendency to try to group people the same way and she told me to to let everyone "stage" themselves. She said to pay attention to where they'd go and it was interesting to watch the way they'd all fall into place.

When we grouped everyone together for the family photo, we got what I thought was a really good shot of everyone. Jake was kinda peeking off to the side to scope things out but overall it was still a good shot.

While I liked the picture a lot, I liked this one better when they all posed themselves.

This one seemed to tell the story of their family more appropriately. The guys are standing protectively over Sherry and Jake. Grace, who is more into the teenager stage where hanging with your family isn't the most fun idea that you can entertain, has positioned herself off to the side a little bit and it shows a hint of independence.

This is pretty typical of how things go when I've watched everyone fall into place at other shoots. It's always cool to see how each family interacts with one another and how something so trivial as where you stand can tell such a story. Even though they aren't sitting at the fake fireplace, mom and dad still tend to be the center of things and everyone is tied together around the two of them. This kind of pose tells me that this family is rock solid and there is an abundant amount of love here.

Mike and Sherry met a long time ago....somewhere around 100 or so years ago. I know, they are holding up well for their age but, trust me, it was a long time ago. I always laugh when Sherry tells me the story of him asking her to marry him when she was really young and she told him that she wasn't ready. She said he told her it'd be a long time before he ever asked her again and it was. It was almost 10 years later when he asked the next time and I guess she figured she better go with it. Otherwise, they'd be the oldest couple still dating in the nursing home. Well, that was quite a few years ago and they are still going strong.

He doesn't look that stubborn just glancing at him, does he?

Stubborn or not, he is still one of the nicest men that I've ever known in  my life. He's one of those guys that's so nice that you find yourself wondering if he's really for real. You wonder if it's possible that someone can be THAT nice and that calm all the time. Almost 15 years have passed since I first met him and I can say without reservation that he is truly just that nice. All the time.

Meeting Mike led to meeting Sherry. While she's more high strung than Mike, she is equally as nice. She's the super mom that you always wonder if you have the capacity to be. She was always running someone to band practice, study time or was making some meal that actually required something more than a box of Hamburger Helper or ketchup. As the kids have gotten older, she's running less but still manages to amaze all of us who know her.

When I met the kids, I was amazed to witness the myriad of personalities that formed this family and to see how they all worked together.

I remember Jake coming in with Sherry when he was a little boy. He has a constant smile and a pure, sweet heart. He is the most genuine person that you will ever meet. He loves everyone that he comes in contact with and he's a whiz at video games. To this day, I've never met anyone who can change channels on a remote control faster than he can. He's the person who can make you smile just by looking at him.

Luke was always more reserved than Jake but he was always very polite. He was the smartest kid that I'd ever met in my life and he's grown up to be one the smartest men that I've ever known. His mind works in ways that my simple brain just can't wrap around. He's wise beyond his years and Jake's face always lights up when it's Luke's weekend to come home from college for a weekend visit. It's hard to look at him now and see a grown man looking back at me when in my head, he's always that gangly little kid with a shy smile. If there are any single women around who are checking out this blog, you'll want to grab onto him now. Guys like Luke don't come along every day!

Then, there's Grace! She was THE most quiet child that I have EVER met in my life! For years, she'd hide behind Sherry's leg when I'd talk to her. She would take in everything that you'd say to her and then she'd whisper into Mike or Sherry's ear so they could answer you back for her. I'll always remember the shock that I felt the day that I finally heard her voice. She was playing with a plastic frog outside of my office door. I asked her if it was a Beanie Baby and I expected to her to run to Sherry to whisper her answer. She looked up and said, "'s a plastic frog", and she giggled....out loud! She then came and got up in the chair in front of my desk and that little mouth just started running. I'm thankful to say that I've talked to her many times since that first frog chat and that she's just a really cool person. She's got an independent streak a mile wide and she's a bit on the stubborn side but she's got a really sweet heart and she's just a good kid...uh, I mean...young adult.

You see families strengthened by the issues that we all go through. Strong families get stronger and there are those that don't make the cut. This family will always get stronger together because they were always meant to be together.

These kids are going to find spouses that really, really love them. They are going to expect their spouses to support them and let them grow. They are going to laugh a lot. They are going to form the kind of families that stick together because that's what they know as their normal. That's what they've always seen from their parents and they are going to be so thankful for that example.

You don't have to look very hard to see the love here.

Or here....

Or here....

To say that I'm happy to know this family is an understatement. I've been blessed by them in countless ways and I am very thankful to call them my friends.

Happy day everybody!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Meet the Jinks Family....

Jayvion, Marvin, Montaega, Natalia, Natalie and Nehemiah. This is also the family who were the victims of our doberman's SD card eating spree! Thankfully, they were all good sports and nice enough to go for round two of picture taking with me. And although I'd never admit it to Ace (aka "Card Killer"), I liked the shots on the second round even better than the first!

Every shoot that I'm on always seems like the most fun one that I've ever done but I definitely think that these guys went out of their way to make it great! We laughed and joked and the time seemed to fly by! There is a wide variety of personalities in this family but they all mesh together to create a family that is full of love.

I was lucky enough to talk my friend and world's greatest photographer/artist, Amanda Summerlin (of, into also going with me for round two of the pictures. She helped me out on the first go round with them and saw my pain when I realized that the dog had consumed my efforts! I know that I've sung her praises in my posts before but I honestly can't say enough good things about her work. She's a true artist and a great source of inspiration and instruction for me. She was nice enough to share some of her images with me so that I can share them with you, too. You'll see what I mean about how great she is and if you haven't checked out her work before, you really should do it now. Go ahead.....look at it....I'll wait.

Back now? Good. I told you that she was awesome. Now I can show you some of the gorgeous shots that we have of these guys.

First, came Natalie and Marvin. They are the brave parents of these kids. Well, they are the parents of Natalia, Jayvion and Nehemiah and the aunt and uncle of Montaega. It doesn't take being around Natalie and Marvin very long to see that these two are one of the most fun couples that you can imagine. They laugh and tease one another constantly and you can see the sweet little smiles that they share when they think that no one is looking. Amanda caught one of these sweet moments in this picture:

These kids are rambunctious, polite, funny, loving, name it. Almost any good quality that you'd want to instill into your kids have all been rolled into these guys. You instantly feel a warmth when you're around them.

Being the oldest of the gang, we pulled Montaega into the festivities first! He was a good sport about it and set the tone for the rest of the kids to follow. He flashed that pretty smile and tried his best to appear bashful, which I almost fell for until a few minutes passed and his real personality started to emerge. He was the instigator behind the pranks and could flash an innocent face quicker than anyone that I've ever met. Amanda caught one of these sweet looks when he was still in the seemingly shy phase of the shoot. How good looking is this guy???

Jayvion was up to bat next. He tried his best to resist smiling for me as you'll see in some later shots but my sweetness eventually got the best of him and that sweet grin came through. He is a fun kid that is FULL of energy and seemed to bounce from place to place while we were shooting. You'd be ready to take his picture and look around and he was like a little Tigger from Winnie the Pooh....he'd be across the yard, throwing the football or teasing one of his sisters. When we finally got him to stand still for a second, I got this grin that's going to melt the heart of lots of cute little girls who won't be able to wait to get to meet him!

The men in this house are as handsome as they come but then you see these beautiful girls with smiles that can light up a room! Natalia is the sweet, older sister who is is so quiet that you hardly even know that she's around. Her mother assures me that most definitely isn't the case most of the time but I don't know if I believe her or not. Natalia is a stunningly beautiful girl but you kinda get the impression that she doesn't know that. She has a sweet, calm presence and a genuinely kind disposition. If I were Marvin and Natalie, I'd load the shotguns now because there will be NO shortage of boys lining up to get her attention. Look at this shot that Amanda took and you'll see what I'm talking about:

Even if they manage to hold the boys back on Natalia for a while, there'll be no need to unload that shotgun anytime soon. Coming up right behind her is Nehemiah. She's going to have her sister's beautiful smile and eyes and rumors are that she's already perfecting her Supermodel walk now. This girl can work a camera! I'd barely have it up to my eye and this beautiful grin would stretch across her face. I think that there may be a modeling career in this little beauty's future!

The time spent with this family was just flat out fun. They are the friends that you'd want to have because you know that you'd laugh uncontrollably most of the time! But, they are also be the friends to fall in there and hang with you when you aren't at the top of your game. These aren't "fair weather friends" kind of people. You leave this gang feeling a little envious that you can't be a part of it!

They came up with their own poses and we finally just let loose and went with having fun! This was my favorite part of it all!

You see where the kids get their sense of humor from because these two are constantly joking and having fun!

We talked Marvin into striking his sexy, serious pose in this one.....

Deciding that the right thing to do would be to make fun of him for posing, this is Natalie cracking herself up after she made some joke about him!

Do these men look like mighty powerhouses or WHAT?!?!

I know that I'm repeating myself but I can't say enough good things about this family. I can say without reservation that there's no doubt in my mind that during these days of shooting with them, I was surrounded by people who truly love each other and have a strong sense of family.

Thank you to each one of these guys for being so sweet and understanding about the SD card mishap and for giving me two days of more laughs than you can possibly imagine! I hope that we can do this again soon!