A family poses for photos in a park in Chesterfield

Extended Family Session at Harry Daniel Park

I’m always incredibly flattered when a family chooses to travel from out of town to have me document them here in Richmond. When that family is also my extended family, I’m flattered and also nervous. Family won’t always tell you if they hate their photos, but they might let it simmer under the surface until you see them again at a big family function, where it comes out in a big resentment-filled “pass the turkey.”

Just kidding. I have no doubt that Jan would tell me if they hated their photos.

Parents walking with their teenage daughter along a wide, flat path in Harry Daniel Park in Chesterfield VA. They are holding hands.

Jan has a teenager, which seems crazy to me, because I’m only 20 myself, and she’s only 10 years older than me… Again. Kidding. I actually remember when Jan turned 20, because I thought the number sounded very formal in my 10-year-old head, and preferred to think of her as either 19 plus 1 or 21 minus 1 years old. Anyway. Neither of us are 20 anymore. Growing up is hard. And nothing reminded me of that more than seeing said teenager in front of the camera in Harry Daniel Park in Chesterfield. “Twirl,” I said. “I don’t twirl,” she said. “That’s fair,” I said. So we talked about other stuff. Teenager stuff, like how hard it is to do school at home, and how hard it is to have friends who feel like extended family, who live so very far away (I can relate to this now more than I could at her age, I think).

I dig this park because it’s super close to my house, it has all flat, curved paths (accessible for a stroller or wheelchair), and a great playground where my kids like to play. It also has fantastic light that speckles the paths and gives lots of location options. We chose a little section near the parking lot and I whipped out my camera. Jan mentioned the last time they’d had outdoor family photos done, her daughter may or may not have been in elementary school… and now she’s driving. They were a little out of practice for how to deal with a photographer (even if she is extended family), and that was okay. Challenge accepted.

While I don’t recommend waiting so long between photo sessions (I mean, I’d be out of a job if everyone waited 10 years between photo sessions, so I recognize the bias), I do love when families recognize that they need to document their family and they take the leap to just DO it.

Jan and co, thank you so much for traveling from out of town to let me photograph you. Next time, bring Piper. And don’t wait until the girl’s 20 (or 19 plus 1).