We were just at a little church activity last night where the question was asked, “if your house was on fire, what would you grab to take with you?”  I think everyone’s answer was “photos.”  That’s our history right?  That helps define who we are and where we’ve come from.  

When you are up against the fact that your oldest child will be leaving for two years, you want desperately to have a snapshot of life as you know it right there and right then before it melds and shifts and heaves into something different.

I did a little snapshot in words back here, and need to get on it again for 2016, but I wanted more than anything to have some pictures to capture how the relationships are in our family right now.  
So it was a crazy thing when I was sifting through old emails earlier this month with my sister-in-law (organizational guru who I always hope will somehow rub off on me).  She was trying to help me get rid of the old and get a system going so I can keep up on things a little better.
And right there in the middle of the jumble of emails I came across one from a photographer who offered to take pictures of our family.  
Back in APRIL last year.  (Yes, it goes without saying that I’m awful with emails.)
But I think it was meant to be that I came across that email right then.  Because I looked up this photographer’s website here: www.erinfonnesbeckphotography.com and her blog here: www.erinfonnesbeckphotography.com/blog  and right there on my screen popped up the exact kind of pictures both Dave and I wanted.
I emailed her on the spot with our short time frame to see if there was a chance she could fit us in and she graciously (and quite amazingly) made some time for us.
It was a little nutty trying to whip up some things to wear last minute in the midst of getting Max ready to go, but we threw some things together and suddenly there we were, at this beautiful desert bird preserve with this ultra talented lady capturing our “together-ness.” 
You know how pictures can be kind of crazy and not the most fun thing in the history of the planet?
And you know how dads and boys almost never like to be in pictures?  (I put the “almost” in there with “never” because there are a few exceptions…in all my years of family photography I think I met three dads who were super gung-ho about the picture taking process.  Out of countless families, three isn’t saying a lot!)
But you know what?  Dave and Max were all smiles and didn’t complain once.  Erin is that awesome.  She makes you feel so comfortable and great and is incredibly easy-going.  (It helped that it was also my birthday…they are pretty malleable on my birthday 🙂  

And you know what?  I will love that Erin forever.

Because she caught things like this:

And this:

And this just might be my favorite:

It’s just so them.
I love the non-posed relationship-highlighting pictures.
And I love the regular posed ones too.  Gotta have those as well and I adore this one:

I mean, did you see Lucy up there?

Let’s check her out again.  Now that’s a real smile.  She obviously loved Erin too.




Sorry, I just can’t stop!

She did some pretty awesome individual portraits as well:






…and I am in love with them all.









Dave and I need to enlarge this one below and put it smack-dab in the center of our bedroom:

Or maybe that will just make us bawl every day.
So, today I’m here to say, find a way to capture family relationships.  You will cherish those pictures forever.  Mothers, make sure you’re in the pictures and not just behind the camera all the time.  And if you want someone pretty amazing to take them for you, contact Erin.  Here’s her website and blog again:  www.erinfonnesbeckphotography.com and http://www.erinfonnesbeckphotography.com/blog
Be sure to check out the newborn and senior portfolios.  Oh boy.  But I warn you, if you never had IWAN before you may have it after you look at those gorgeous pics!
I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of Erin in action at the end:

And one with the kids before we parted that golden evening:
Thank you forever, Erin!


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  1. I hope you don't feel the need to respond to that comment above. Of course you love photos of your family, because you love that family of yours that you've worked so hard to create and nurture and guide and love. I'm grateful for the insight and joy that you share with the world through this blog, even if we don't have the same opinions on everything, and I hope you aren't dissuaded by people who come here specifically to try to draw you into their negativity.

  2. Anyone who has read your blog for very long knows how service oriented your family is. Thanks for your wonderful examples of goodness and love! Sending prayers for your new missionary and your beautiful family.

    Loads of Love, Emily

  3. So lovely. Family pictures are the best. You are such an uplifting little space on the Internet. I'm sorry people sometimes aren't kind.

  4. I LOVE Erin Fonnesbeck! She does the very best work. I'm a photographer too and I have had her photograph my own family. I'm super picky about who I want to photograph my own family and I LOVE working with Erin! She's just the best. I miss her in Vegas but now that she's in Gilbert/Phoenix/Mesa area I know even more people will be able to enjoy her talent! I've worked with her on joint shoots and can let everyone know that her work is exceptional no matter the subject: newborns, seniors and families or engagements. She is talented beyond others and her personality will make you feel as though you've been a lifelong friend.

  5. Erin Fonnesbeck photography is the very best! She has photographed my family in Las Vegas as well and her work is extraordinary. Now that she is in Arizona, you are in for a treat. You will love how you look when she photographs you and you will be amazed at the emotion that she captures with that lense.

  6. Oh my goodness! First, what a lovely family and what a wonderful experience to share in before Max left to SERVE a 2 year mission. Missionaries definitely make sacrifices to serve for 2 years, and so do their families. Big time. It is wonderful that you were able to have these images captured to treasure and cherish forever. Whenever someone asks me what I would grab in a fire, I always say, "MY blog books!" They are my journals and photos all together. It is history. It is our FAMILY story. It is precious to me.
    I like the quote Michelle shared, "Some hurtful words are not always meant to hurt us but to express the pain some people are going through." — Terry Mark
    I need to remember that because I am so baffled at how mean spirited some commenters can be. It really is a reflection on what is happening within themselves and not you and your family. I know you know that, because you and your entire family are always so gracious and kind. Beautiful photos.

  7. Oh Shawni, these are SO LOVELY. What a beautiful family and what precious pics! Erin really did capture you all so well. The individual portraits are SO sweet. What a blessing! xo

  8. These are all so beautiful. I have a son getting ready to leave the nest for college and reading your blog these days always makes my eyes tear. He is my oldest as well and we are very close. Praying for you. Could you tell me where Elle's gray top is from? It is so cute.

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