The D Family | Jackson Wyoming Documentary Family Photography

Somehow I ended up visiting Wyoming, somehow this wonderful family ended up living there and somehow it all happened to work out for a session.

I guess it really isn't about somehow, though. My husband had worked there a few years back -- sharing stories of wide open spaces that seemed so remote and beautiful alongside harrowing, stupid tales of nearly falling down cliffs or driving along unpaved roads miles from civilization with an unreliable jeep. He'd come home with rocks and fossils and old beer cans he had collected along the way, which left me feeling even more confined at the desk of my old job. Point being, it sounded so different from my well-padded life at home and I really wanted different. 

There has always been something very appealing and curious about Wyoming, coming from someone who was born in California where the entire population of the former is considered a "small-ish town" in the latter. It seemed like visiting somewhere so completely foreign and yet quintessentially American at the same time. For instance: how can the concept of cowboys and vast open space seem so inherently familiar to someone who thinks an 1/8th acre suburban backyard is a "good size"? 

Stupid questions ran through my head as we drove through the state, like "Can they still guarantee Amazon Prime Two-Day shipping here?" and "What happens when you don't have a Target?". Ultimately, I answered myself: it doesn't matter, because you're in fucking Wyoming, and this place is so awesome you don't ever have to mindlessly spend money as a means of numbing your pointless existence like you do back home. You can see the wagon ruts of the actual Oregon trail, ride your bike through the Tetons (glaringly obvious I did not do that but I saw several who did), see a shitload of bison, eat a shitload of bison, and go check out Old Faithful alongside 10,000 Chinese tourists if you want to. Ain't nobody got time for browsing through the dollar bins of Target. 

How on earth one state can contain nearly every kind of landscape is beyond me, but it was incredible. Rolling high desert hills covered in sagebrush turned to badlands more colorful than in South Dakota. Ten-thousand foot snowy mountain peaks turned to green valleys turned to calderas with chromatic hot springs. 

Among one of these green valleys is where Gretchen and her family live. I had to keep reminding myself the mountains in the backdrop of their yard weren't fake -- mountains are as mystical as unicorns in my part of the world (but feel far less mystical as you're experiencing them real time with altitude sickness sprinkled with a dash of driving anxiety). I loved how they allowed their daughters to be wild and free, so much a reflection of their surroundings. The day of their session ended up being the final day in their home as they moved to town life -- but I have a feeling these girls won't let that get in their way. They had the best names for their chickens (my favorite by far was Orange Peel), had skeletons as members of the family, and spent an impressive amount of time jumping on the trampoline without ever needing a break. 

Lauren Mitchell is a documentary family photographer located in Central Florida. She is available for travel, especially if that somewhere is back to Wyoming. For more information, go here. 

The S Family | Dallas Documentary Family Session

If I solely based communities off of my own on the Space Coast of Florida, I'd assume 80 year old retirees were the only neighbors anyone had. Which isn't at all a bad thing, although maybe a little boring for my daughter. It's quiet, except when your next-door neighbor gets taken out on a stretcher with a heart attack for overdoing the Christmas decorations (true story). 

I first met Mary's family through her photos while I was TA'ing for The Documentary Approach. It was total luck that the relatives I was visiting in Dallas lived only 15 minutes away from her home. By the end of the session, the house was filled with family and neighborhood friends for her son's birthday. This would have been my dream as a kid -- to swing by my friend's house down the street, jump on the trampoline, swim in the pool, eat endless birthday cake. 

Lauren Mitchell is a documentary family photographer located in Central Florida. She is available for travel which is made most apparent by the fact that this session took place in Texas. For more information, go here. 

Nick + Nicole | Jacksonville Wedding Preview

The W Family in Tampa | Orlando Documentary Family Photographer

My friend Heather is a strong ass woman. She may or may not disagree with this, but I hope she agrees. She better. Heather fixes tangles, de-escalates toddler battles and takes care of four kids on her own in an entirely new state while her husband is sometimes sent out of town for work. Also, as a fellow artist, she shares amazing photos of her life just as it is. This is why so many people are immediately drawn to her work. Constantly in awe of viewing a world outside the contained space of our fears of rejection and perception, like a deep exhale after a life of suspended breath. A view which seems daring in its honesty and transparency, yet what foolishness on our part to ever assumed there was a box we needed to stay in. 

Because there is everything beautiful and ordinary about this family, like donuts and plastic cats and robotic vacuums and laundry. And there is so much in common, like five year olds who love video games and how mesh screens are so damn impossible with kids around. The latter being the universal truth of all Florida rooms. 

I know she might not feel completely settled here, but I am so grateful that she and her family are so close by now. 

Lauren Mitchell is a Documentary Family and Wedding photographer in the Central Florida area. She tells the stories of all kinds of families with half and full day in the life sessions, as well as Disney World/Vacation day in the life sessions. For more information, go here! 

The S Family | Disney World Orlando Documentary Family Photographer

One of the best aspects of being a documentary photographer is the active hours clocked in with families. Eight hours? Yes. Two days? Even better. Sometimes I'm in awe of the patience and graciousness of having what essentially amounts to a curious stranger with a camera around them for that long. But that's the funny thing about doing these sessions -- you float into their lives as a (mostly) stranger, and soon get to know the ins and outs and intricacies of their everyday world. Even at the most fantastical, magical place on earth -- Disney World. 

You learn that being a parent means never going on vacation, even on your vacation. That despite the exhaustion of keeping it all together where there are wait times for even the bathrooms, you wouldn't trade a any of it to see the joy on your kids' faces. And that it takes a village sometimes -- lots of hands to provide parental relief, to keep wrist bands securely on tiny wrists, to nudge them along in roller coaster stand-by lines. 

I'm a documentary family and wedding photographer located in the Central Florida area, specializing in half- and full day in the life sessions. Interested in a Disney World or vacation session? I'm available for single and multi-day options at the theme parks. Go here for more information. 

The A Family On Vacation | Orlando Documentary Family Photographer

I'm a documentary family and wedding photographer located in the Central Florida area, specializing in half- and full day in the life sessions. Interested in a Disney World or vacation session? I'm available for single and multi-day options at the theme parks. Go here for more information. 

The G Family in Minneapolis | Orlando Documentary Family Photographer

The C Family in Delray Beach | Orlando Documentary Family Photographer

It's a lot of fun to come back each year to photograph a family, especially when there are new additions. It's not only about seeing the growth and the changes of the kids themselves, but the way the family grows and and changes with each other. 

I met up with the family at their home on a Sunday morning back in November. John had just had his 2nd birthday, which was completely themed around fruit. Not just to eat, but as decoration. Turns out John really, really loves fruit -- which I immediately found out the second his eyes came upon a bowl of berries. Sweet little baby Siena mostly hung around mom for the morning, as they spent some time outside and back in for pancakes. One thing I love so much about spending time in their home is that they have so many little things that have personal significance to them. Favorite chairs that are passed down from family, beautiful artwork on the walls, special coffee mugs and cherished family pancake recipes shared with a new generation. 

I'm a documentary family and wedding photographer located in the Central Florida area, specializing in half- and full day in the life sessions. Interested in a Disney World or vacation session? I'm available for single and multi-day options at the theme parks. Go here for more information. 

Yamit + Steven | Miami Beach Wedding Preview

I first got to know Yamit and Steven back in April, when I responded to a wedding notification via Fearless Photographers (future brides and grooms to be -- look no further than here). Looking back on her original correspondence, I see quite clearly that she described the two of them to a T: lefties, french-fry obsessed international travelers. Two crazy old souls who wanted to celebrate not only their love for one another, but their love for their family and friends who lived all over the world. They had planned to hold the ceremony at a beautiful little urban farm in the middle of the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami, with a cake made by Yamit's grandmother, packed tightly in a suitcase on an airplane all the way from Brazil. Time and circumstance, however, had their own ideas, proving that even the best laid plans are just that. The farm was no more, but the cake made it through 3500 miles and even harder still, Customs. It was hands down worth the trip: guava filling between painstakingly thin layers of cake.

It was a site to see the energy in the room as the Hora began and Yamit was hoisted in the air and everyone circled around them, dancing, laughing and celebrating. Or witnessing the look on her face when Steven surprised her with a New Orleans brass band as the night progressed. A celebration of religions, cultures, nationalities, friends, family and memories all wrapped into one single day. 

A special thanks goes out to Yamit and Steven of course for allowing me to be a part of this day, and inviting me into your world. Also, a huge thanks to my amazing second shooter Heather of Heather Whitten Photography, who filled in all the beautiful nuances of emotion, life and moment while I was off chasing something else.