Family Engagement Shoot

Jon, Lauren and Tucker have already been a family for a while.  So for their engagement session we decided that it would be fun to do a documentary session of a typical weekend morning just so we could get to know each other before their big day.   Tucker took a little while to warm up to me but soon we were all having a great time playing peek-a-boo, reading books and having a tickle.  It was such a pleasure to spend time with such a loving family.  I can't wait to document their big day.

Sledding with the neighbors!

Minnesota can be beautiful when it behaves.  Last night we received a foot of snow.  Today school was cancelled the temperature was in the 20's and the sun was out.  A perfect day for sledding.  Here are my photos from our afternoon on the hill. 

A Day In The Life of the Brunner Family

This is a repost of a review written by Nicki Brunner of Minnemama Adventures.  Thanks so much Nicki!

"A Day in the Life" Captures the Reality of Parenting

Parenting. It's easily the most thankless job in the world. It's also a job we can't quit, we never get an annual review, and we never, ever receive a raise. Our compensation comes in the form of sibling squabbles, legos in our air vents, red kool-aid on the carpet, post-sleepover whining, 40-pound purses, grey hair, sleepless nights, financial worries and wine. And do you want to know something? I'm willing to bet it's the best job you've ever had!


Because parenting also comes with hand-holding, proud smiles, milestones, dance parties, incredible imaginations, tiny toes, goodnight kisses, goofy compliments, unsurmountable amounts of laughter, cuddles, Disney movies, tooth fairies, hugs that almost throw out your back and full, full, FULL hearts.


Here's the truth: Sometimes we all need a reminder that a full heart actually does outweigh the sleep-deprivation. We want to see that the moments you spend so much time dealing with are worth it – that the life you've built for yourself is properly shaping these little people who depend on you daily. And this is why I'm so ridiculously happy with my "Day in the Life" photo series that was captured by Mike Levad with Twin Birch Studios.


Mike reached out to me awhile back and asked if he could do a "documentary series" on my family – basically follow us around for 12 hours and report back with a bunch of pictures. While I'm a huge fan of lifestyle photography, and totally thought it'd make me feel like a Kardashian-type baller with my own personal paparazzi, the idea was sort of off-putting. A man I've never met is going to come over to my house as we are all waking up and spend the day with the car, in the kitchen, capturing the good and the bad, with no Kardashian contouring or lighting. Did I really want to expose him (and all of you) to the most stressful realities of my life? The moments only Nate and I see from the privacy of our own home? If we did this, it couldn't be staged. Documentarians are REAL life – no matching outfits, no done-up hair, no posey-poseyness. Did I have it in me? I decided I did.


I emailed him and agreed to the day. He showed up on my doorstep at 7:30am, camera in hand with a smile on his face while I covered my unbrushed mouth with my hand donning my "fancy" sweatpants (hey, I have some pride) and slippers with a toddler attached to my leg. You guys, it was the beginning of a beautiful day!

"A Day in the Life" photos are a super unique and exciting way to capture, well, a day in the life of your family. Mike was more than happy to take a 45-minute road trip with us to pick out our Christmas tree, stop at Subway for lunch, and just be in our life for the day without being in our way for the day.


Can I tell you a little about him? Mike has been shooting professionally for 7 years – starting shortly after his daughter was born. He was kind, flexible, responsive, so great with kids, ambitious and down for anything. He was also one of those people you try to make laugh really hard because the result is contagious and genuine. He's a family man with a masters degree in science ed + a legit passion for photography. And the photos speak to his talent. I mean, the moments he captured – I didn't even see half of them happening! 


By the end of our day, he admitted to being tired. 12 hours of climbing on the ground to get shots of my toddler crawling under the table, running far in the distance to get the perfectly-framed-family-tree-farm shot, standing on chairs to get just the right angle...yeah, I'd be tired too. But he said it was mental exhaustion. Three kids running in all different directions and having to decide how to snap the best moments with the right artistic look had to have been mind-warping. I'm so glad he was up for the challenge. Because when I look at these photos, I get teary-eyed.


He captured my entire family. Just the way we are. No frills. No lies. No sugar coating. The picture of my son and I having a tough conversation in his bedroom about attitude is right there in front of my face, black and white and framed perfectly. In that moment, I was mad. I was just being a mom trying to straighten out her 8-year old boy. But when I look at it now, I see a mom doing her job the best way she saw fit – teaching her son, amidst his tears, a lesson that had to be learned. And that is the photo that made me cry and realize this whole "Day in the Life" thing was SO very worth it.


After I posted the photos from our day to social media, I had a friend ask me, "But why does he do it?" I think he answered that question wonderfully in an email he sent to me: "I would like to show that parenting is hard. Everyday life is beautiful if you look carefully.  Kids are weird, I mean this in the best possible way.  They just do funny things that adults don't." The first line of this was what resonated with me.

Parenting is hard. It is thankless. And it is ever so beautiful.