I met Lacey and her family last year when they asked me to take their family photos while they vacationed in Big Sky, Montana. Lucky for me, they came back to visit Big Sky this summer and I got to tag along for an evening.

We decided on a short hike to Ousel Falls to change up the scenery from last year’s photos and it was so fun watching the kids explore! Family photo sessions are one of my favorite types of sessions because I get to watch families interact and explore new places together, and the Grabel family is so good at this. Watching them traipse through brush to get to the river, picking up sticks and making games out of it, and decorating those sticks with grass and flowers was so fun.

For those who don’t know, my own father passed away suddenly last month, just 6 weeks after my wedding and 2 weeks after our reception. I’ve taken so much comfort in going through old photo albums (thanking God my mom always had a camera in her hand when we were growing up) and our wedding photos, and this experience has reminded me that, while the memories are the most important thing to have, photos of each phase of our lives together can help remind us of things that may have faded from memory. This has absolutely refreshed my perspective in documenting people’s relationships and I am so grateful that I get the opportunity to watch families grow over the years. So glad I met this sweet family that has become friends.

I’ve been having so much fun documenting families on film - scroll on through for a few favorites!

JESSE + MADISON :: Missoula Couples' Session

I’ll start by saying if you have dogs, PLEASE bring them to your session! Gimme allll the pups!

I’ve been lucky enough to get to know and photograph Madison + Jesse a few times over the last couple of years, starting with a mini session, then their wedding last fall, and now this perfect spring session for kicks and giggles (actually it was to make sure they had “family” photos featuring their sweet pups, Sophie and Scooter, who didn’t get to come to the wedding).

Madison + Jesse have been together a long time (they were high school sweethearts!). In fact, it was especially important to Madison that they get a few photos of Jesse and Scooter because they joke that Scooter is the only thing Jesse has had longer than Madison! Their sense of humor and they way they joke with each other is so refreshing and it’s so clear that they have the type of foundation that only time can build. These two are off to Texas to start a new adventure, so I’m SO glad we were able to squeeze in this sweet session while we were all in Missoula!

SAM + KEEGAN :: Lake Como Engagement Session

We tried ALL spring to schedule Sam + Keegan’s engagement session, but as luck would have it, between spring flu and Montana weather, we had to reschedule something like 4,539 times. In the end, it all ended up working out for the best, because we finally had some gorgeous spring color and the temperature was warm enough not to have to wear six layers - WIN!

Anyway, these two (and Sam’s son) are some of my absolute favorite people and I am just so damn glad to have the opportunity to keep photographing them. We opted for a morning session at Lake Como (yes - Montana has its own Lake Como and it’s beautiful!) and Sam did a phenomenal job coordinating their outfits! We chose the beautiful mountain lake as the setting because one of their favorite things to do together is to spend their weekends camping, and their more formal outfit choices were a nod to their killer style (little H’s in particular ;))

After a brief intermission for a wardrobe change, we were back at it. I always suggest couples bring a change of clothes, whether to alter the level of formality or just to give them a little more variety in their photos, and Sam put together two great sets for the whole family!

As a side note, people often ask whether they should include their kids in their engagement photos - sort of like an engagement session with a mini side of family session - and I always leave it up to the couple. While I believe that the primary function of the session should be to focus on celebrating the couple and this next chapter in their story, that may look different for each couple. Some like to use it as an excuse to get dressed up, sip on drinks, and treat it as a date, while others relish the opportunity to include the whole family - this is after all their adventure too!

In Sam + Keegan’s case, they wanted to include H in some of their photos and he was so excited about their photos that day! When he wasn’t the focus, he helped me direct (and even picked up the ancient Mamiya 645 hanging at my hip to “shoot” a few of his own!). All in all, it was an amazing morning and I couldn’t be happier for this threesome!