STOP IT with these two two-year-old twin girls (and a little brother on the way), Lu and Lani! Tina and Bill let me come over before the girls woke up so we could do a candid Day In The Life style shoot (which I so deeply appreciate!). There’s not much I can say in words that you won’t be able to see in these photos: SUPER sweet, beyond adorable, independent, cuddly, cute little girls and their beautiful parents. Please enjoy this incredible Mill Valley family!
This is my SEVENTH consecutive year photographing my oldest and best friend’s family for the weekend. (pause! Quickly check out their shoot seven years ago to see how the kids have grown) This time I didn’t go to their home in Wisconsin. Instead they let me tag along on their family vacation to Disney World. Kristen and I met when we were three years old so you can imagine how many times we talked about going to Disney together. It was a long shot and we knew it, but it never kept us from fantasizing about it. Fast forward lots of years and there we were together at Disney. It was, truly, the best vacation ever. I mean, I actually wanted to die of exhaustion because we hit three f*cking parks a day and went on every f*cking ride at each park for five days, BUT…but I had a blast. There were many, many highs and a whole bunch of lows…for the kids. For the adults…it was all hilarious roller coaster fun and then we drank a bunch of wine. I am so beyond honored to be treated as part of this family. I love them so much, I have loved watching these guys grow up. Kristen is my right and left arm, my heart, and both my legs. I do not know one day of this precious life without her, and I gotta say, I hope I never do.
Here is Kristen and Mark’s amazing family. Enjoy the photographs. Call your best friend. She loves you.
Lucky me. I got to spend the day outside of LA with the coolest little crew going. I went out to visit them a couple years ago when little Emerson was an only child, a sweet little girl. Well, lucky for everyone, along came Edward about 2 years ago, and the world got way better. I chased these little people around all dern day and loved every second. This is what I saw this time ’round. Enjoy. Thank you. Love.
When Muji was a baby his mother nicknamed him Baby Cool Breeze because he was so easy going and chill, never cried, never fussed. I know babies, and grown folk, who are like this and I admire such gentle spirits. It didn’t surprise me at all to hear that Muji was such a cool breeze from the beginning.
Welp, when a gentle soul happens to be encased in a large, strong, athletic frame whatchya get is a gentle, cool… linebacker. Muji played football for University of New Hampshire, and I’m sure he enjoyed that experience along with the vast cultural diversity up there in the granite state. 😉
In August 2011, so about ten minutes ago, Muji and his brother were in a car accident. The car burst into flames and Muji lost the bottom of both of his legs and the fingers on his left hand. His brother, from what I understand, has also suffered very serious burns.
I bet if you take more than three minutes you can remember exactly what you were doing in August of 2011. Maybe your life has changed dramatically since then, maybe it hasn’t changed at all. Maybe you *meant* to finally get the job or lose the weight or start the program or end the bullshit or start some bullshit, I obviously have no idea. I can rest pretty easily on the fact that few lives have changed quite like Muji’s has. This motherfucker is so strong and so talented and so warm and so cool, and in the past three years he’s…well… learned how to live, walk, run, be at peace, struggle, persevere, test himself, test the people he loves, and bring a SON INTO THE WORLD!! He bought a gorgeous home, partnered off with *the* prettiest, coolest, chillest chick ever, has became a motivational speaker, and frankly realized that that accident in 2011 has opened more doors and more opportunities for love and life and connection than he could have EVER done without it. Can we get a fucking AMEN on that please? Can we get a fucking amen on the beauty and perseverance and STRENGTH of the human soul? Of THIS human’s soul.
Baby Cool Breeze? Damn fucking right.
Muji Karim is a star among us, y’all. It is an EXTREME HONOR to have been trusted to spend the day with this guy. All we did was laugh our asses off all day and then I watched this guy RUN ON BLADES!!!
GAHHHH!!!!! I’m so on fire right now with MAD RESPECT and LOVE OF LIFE!!! Muji, thank you SO MUCH for taking your journey with SUCH grace, man. You are AN INSPIRATION TO THE ENTIRE WORLD, bro! There is NO ONE LIKE YOU!!!! I love you so much! Have since the moment we met.
The best is yet to come, Muji. Hang the fuck on.
THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!
Six years in a ROW I’ve been with this incredibly special, giggly, light, playful, hilarious, beautiful family. Every year, the weekend before Thanksgiving, I head out to Osh Kosh, Wisconsin to visit my oldest and best friend, Kristen. It’s really no coincidence that Kristen is the matriarch of truly one of the best families I know. She is endlessly and reliably kind and gentle, soft and thoughtful, funny and goofy, understanding and playful. Her children truly adore her and her home is absolutely bursting with a childish lightness and everyone loves being there. She married, simply, the best guy ever. Mark is also hilarious and goofy, kind and thoughtful, but also an incredible provider, a steady rock, a gentle soul. I couldn’t have imagined a better guy for my girl.
Their children are Drew, Beau, and Maeve. If you have a second, I’d love for you to see my first shoot with them just so you can see how they’ve grown. Our first year is HERE. You’ll absolutely fall in love with all three of them for one reason or another. I hope watching them grow up in photos will make you smile. I hope you either have or will have a family so incredibly special as this one. I’m certain you will if that’s what you want.
Thank you, Kris. 36 years and counting? Well, aren’t we somethin’ else. 😉 I love you. A huge thank you to both you and Mark for treating me like family. It means the world. love.
So….. Kendra has been one of my best friends for 25 years. Hard to believe it’s been that long sometimes. We have shared so many firsts together and have a lifetime of memories to talk and reminisce about. As little girls we used to perform elaborate dances, have epic photo shoots, and ridiculous scavenger hunts. As we got older we shared many tears, lots of secrets, way too much alcohol, and averted much danger while we got into much trouble. We both, oddly, went to college in Alabama (me at Uof A and she went to Auburn). We saw each other through the years and I loved her boyfriend turned husband, Wade, from the moment I met him. Wade, by the way, is just about the best dad and husband there ever was. Love that guy from the bottom of my heart.
I flew to Atlanta to shoot a wedding a few weeks ago and surprised Kendra…more like I scared the shit out of her. I spent the day photographing her and her beautiful, kind, funny, smart, cool kids. Kendra is a wonderful mom and it was an honor and a trip to see her as the cool, fun mom I knew she’d be. She’s in love with her life and she glows. That sentence can be said for her through her life. Kendra is a positive, kind, fun, funny, smart, truly gorgeous woman. I’m so very proud to be her lifelong friend. I am so very happy to be able to give these photographs to her.
My love, you know the rest. You have permanent residence in my heart. Always have, always will.
Enjoy. Thank you. Love
Any advice on beginning to explain what it feels like to know your soul mate?
I met Jennell on the first day of my years at Bastyr University in Seattle. My life was about to change that day. Retrospect provides this kind of insight and it feels like watching a movie in reverse when I think of that time in my life.
As friends and classmates we were in deep and as thick as thieves from the first second. I loved her deeply and our friendship would grow to be inspirational for me on many levels. Jennell is honest and real and hilarious and absolutely self deprecating and brilliant and insanely talented, and by god if she wants you to like her you best watch out. She will win that battle.
When I say our friendship was inspirational, Jennell taught me how to be a friend. I loved the way it felt to be so deeply listened to by her so I vowed to be exactly like that. She taught me how to be truly present in a conversation with someone. When she would give me feedback or compliment anything in my life I hung on every word. Her words are mindful, observant, and so wicked generous. It feels so good to be appreciated so I try to never miss an opportunity to love on someone.
You may be wondering what it feels like to be adored by someone like this. It’s royalty. I was with her this weekend and ask me how many times I introduced myself as, “…Tara. Jennell’s* best* friend.” Then they would ask if I had ever been to Lopez Island before. My East Coast comes out occasionally.
‘Have I been to Lopez? Only about 100 times. I said I was Jennell’s best friend.’
Fucking hippies, right? So hard of hearing.
I live here, she lives there. I think I’m a rock star, she thinks she’s a witch. We’ve come a long way, but it’s the same every time we’re together: no time has passed, we confirm that we still have the coolest chick in the room as a best friend, notice we still have all our old neurosis, and then at some point I’m on my knees bawling telling her how important she is to me. I don’t even think she looks up from the stove at this point. She smiles deeply, “I know, darlin. You’ve mentioned that.”
Jennell was diagnosed with cancer in January. There was a 4-inch tumor in her right breast and sure enough the news everyone fears was true. By the time she discovered the tumor it was large enough to require a full mastectomy.
Chemo and radiation start next week and the whole treatment plan
will take the year. She’ll burn her forest down to the ground so that
the beautiful body can start to replant, grow, and flourish. She is a
hippie, ya know? It could happen.
Jennell, I hope more than
anything that these photographs will bring you back to this time in your
lives for years and years and years. I hope you use them to see how
beautiful you are and how much love there is in your life. Thank you so
much for everything and all.
You will get through this year and you
will be fine. You will have learned so much about yourself and your
children and Brian. You will feel invincible because you will be. You will grow very old.
You have to get ugly with me, dude. Sorry.
facts: Jennell, Brian, Freda, and Sam live on Lopez Island, a small
island in the San Juan Islands in Washington state. You can buy Canadian weed from dudes
smuggling on kayaks. I’m kidding. I don’t know if you can…. They live in Lopez’ version of community housing, it’s a
small cluster of smurf houses that cost like five cents a year for like a
million years…Jennell and Brian
own Blossom Organic Grocery which is the brothel in town. I kid, it’s
well..the organic grocery store on the island. Rough translation:
they’re the mayors……Freda is six, Sam is four…. ironically, or
maybe not so, Freda is the smartest person I’ve ever met and she’s a
drama queen charmer like her mother. ;)…. Sam named the family cat:
Billy Boom Alligator Orange Carrot Cheese stick…. Sam is so
rad….Brian is smarter than the internet and nicer than good god, Brian
is like nicer than everyone you know. There ya have it.)
Sighhhh…. the Ouellettes….(heart bubbles emanating from my chest). So… I was lucky enough to photograph Courtney and Chris’ wedding in 2009 (which you can see HERE). That was a pretty big year for the newlyweds because they got a dog (Buddha), a baby (Charlotte), and moved (Austin). I’m lucky enough to photograph them when they’re back in Mass for visits, but this time I went THERE. I stayed with these absolutely beautiful people while I was in Austin last week and I’m more in love than ever. It’s thanks to Courtney that I was able to photograph the other three wonderful crews in Austin. Staying with this family was such…a…nice..time. I hope I did their family and their love justice in this shoot. God, I hope you fall in love with Charlotte. I hope you see how incredibly sweet and hilarious she is. I hope you fall in love with Chris and Courtney, as a couple, as parents, and as individuals. I hope you see how nice and loving and generous and fun they are.
The Texas Blue Bonnet flowers were in full bloom on the hazy and beautiful day we shot together so they’re blue-ness is highly featured in the shoot.
C, C, and C (and B)… I’ll remember your generosity and kindness last week for the rest of my life. I cherish our friendship. I adore you all. I hope to see you again very soon. Thank you so much for cherishing what I do for a living. Your support means the world to me, I’m honored to be your photographer and I love you.
Let’s look at some pictures…
Turns out that southern California is a much nicer place to be in late December than Boston is. Who knew. I spent the day with the hilarious, gorgeous, smart, generous Shoemaker family. They rented a place on Balboa island near Newport Beach and we basically just hung out all day and watched little Emerson be precious. If Emerson fit in a toaster I would slather her with butter and eat her. She’s such a great little kid.
Enough of me, let’s look at some pictures. Meet The Shoemakers of Newport Beach. Rockin.
Thank you. Enjoy. Love.
Worrrrrd. I’ve been besties with Kristen since we were three years old and if you follow my blog (and I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t follow my blog. It’s not like the blogosphere is saturated) you’ll know that I make an annual pilgrimage to Wisconsin to see m’girl and spend time with her (amazing, hilarious, funny, happy, silly, playful, talented, smart, gorgeous) family.
It’s fun to see a family grow so here are links to the past three years:
This year we had some new additions. Kristen’s big brother and two of his sons joined us for a fun afternoon. And Kristen and Mark have a new niece who we visited.
I hope you enjoy watching this super sweet family grow over the years as much as I do. I have the giggles just thinking about them. Sighhh… Kris, I miss you. 🙁
Thank you. Enjoy. LOVE!!!!!