Living with Photography

A Mom’s Story – The Road to Priceless Portraits

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Gigi Bott VanderWeele is my guest writer today. She’s the pen behind Your Personal Memoir LLC, a Pleasant Ridge based company that is dedicated to recording personal or family histories and preserving them, either in audio or heirloom books for future generations. Gigi is also a client of Angela Brown Photography. Read on for her story about a most unexpected treasure.

Tween Brother and Sister Studio Portraits in Brighton Michigan at Angela Brown Photography

“Sometimes the most significant moments to catch on film are not necessarily the most obvious. As a parent I’ve been pretty good at photographing my kids at certain ages or around specific events. We have the sweet newborn photos. We caught that classic one-year-old smile. Of course, we have the series of  school photos. And we’ll cap it off with the all-important senior pictures.

But I have also found some of the least obvious milestones in my children’s lives to be the most important to capture. When my daughter Sophie was five her first tooth was loose so I panicked and called a professional photographer immediately. I desperately wanted to get a photo of her little face with baby teeth, before those big awkward chompers grew in. I needed to capture this last moment before she went from baby to big girl in my eyes. But ironically, when the “loose tooth shoot” proofs came back, the photo I most fell in love with didn’t even show off her teeth! Instead, it was a quiet, closed-mouth smile with her little chin resting on her hands – her sweet, chubby, baby fat hands.

Oh those hands… Every day I look at that photo on my mantle and think about how that sweet little girl has grown into such a beautiful young woman. I adore the photo. I adore those hands. Who knew it would be a photo of hands that would make my heart swell for years to come?

Then a year ago I got another accidental but equally heartwarming surprise in a photo. On a whim, Angie Brown encouraged me to photograph my kids, Sophie (then 14) and Owen (then 12). It had been a few years since they were last professionally photographed by her. She presented a convenient time, so I snagged the session at her Brighton studio despite the fact that it didn’t really seem like a significant time to capture them in a portrait.

Boy, was I wrong.

What I got were possibly the last great photos of them together with big sister Sophie actually looking like the big sister. In the photos Sophie is several inches taller than Owen. All of that has changed in the last year. Owen is literally catching her by the day and will soon pass her in height.

While there were several photos from the photo shoot I love, there are two special images of the kids together that I have hanging in my downstairs powder room. In one, Sophie is leaning on her still little brother. In the other, they are laughing hysterically at something Angie said to them at the shoot. While it didn’t occur to me at the time, the photos really were taken at important moments in my kids’ lives. Sophie had just started high school and Owen had just started middle school. Looking at the photos I see something childlike in their eyes that I know will soon be gone.

Tween studio portraits from Angela Brown Photography in Brighton MichiganI’m so happy I have these photos. And I’m particularly happy to have such great images of Sophie taken at the beginning of her high school experience. She’s going to look so different when her senior photos are done in a few years. For this reason, I am going to have Angie photograph Owen before he starts high school as well. Professional pictures at age 14 might not seem traditional, but I sure learned how special they can be. And who knows what surprise may emerge in those pictures?

I honestly can’t wait to see.