the Blue family

“You are my oasis — the eye of the hurricane.

One look at your face is all I need to remember by name.

So I run away home…. Yes, I run away home to you.

I was an orphan caught in a thunderstorm.

You opened the door and welcomed me into your arms.

So I run away home…. Yes, I run away home to you.

I believe in the love of the Father, and I believe in the power of grace.

I believe that he brought us together, and you are my one safe place.

You are a fortress; I am under siege.

You’re a light in the forest; I am a lost boy out in the trees.

So I run away home…. Yes, I run away home to you.”

— “My One Safe Place,” by Andrew Peterson

This song came to mind when thinking about them and the love they are so good at showing one another.

I am truly blessed to know this family. They give me hope and make me want to be a better Shelby. We took these photos last summer, and the time with them and the photos we created have been good for my soul.

the Shinnicks

I had vaguely mapped out some steps in a new direction — wanting to focus my camera on families, and wanting more from my photos. More soul. More truth. More light. I started dreaming of family portraits that may or may not seem “picture perfect” or like the classic “Kodak moments” — but photos that help families tell their stories. Their true stories. Desert seasons included — not ignored, and not waited out.

(Because really — how many of us would think, “Let’s invest in some fresh family photos,” right after a divorce or a diagnosis? But those are integral parts of the stories, too, and I think they are worth documenting. I want people to feel seen, to feel strong, to feel brave and beautiful in both the seasons of plenty and the seasons of trials.)

And then Caity emailed. Would I take some family photos, and did I have June 1st open? She bravely shared that June 1st would be two years since she had miscarried a baby. And two summers ago, she had gone to a quiet, safe place, a family friend’s farm, and dropped hydrangea petals in the river to grieve that loss. And part of her wanted to use their next round of family photos to honor this part of their story.

What an honor, what a joy, what a kind answer to my prayers, to be invited into this. It was exactly the invitation that my heart was craving, at exactly the right time for both of us. God is generous.

We took a few minutes to honor their sweet baby at the beginning of our time together — and then we walked forward. To bunnies. To strawberries and swings and sunlight. To cows. We explored and ran and laughed, and then we chased the sunset and the fireflies. It was glorious.

These photos with the Shinnicks feel like the first steps in that new direction I’m dreaming of. I’m hoping to seek beauty and tell stories with families, no matter what season they’re in — whether they’re overflowing with joy, or they’re clinging to each other for dear life. Or somewhere in between.

I believe every family is beautiful and every season is important. And if you believe that too — or if you want to believe that, but can’t right now — I would love to help you find the beauty. If you’d like family portraits, I’d love to hear from you. That “say hello” button is for you.

Grace & peace,