What do you get when you combine a retired teacher (and cancer survivor!!), a badass single mama putting herself through school, and a little girl with more spunk in her pinky toe than most have in their whole body? This amazing three generation trio, of course!
Most of the time I go into a shoot with very little knowledge about the subjects, sometimes I’m lucky enough to have had more lengthy email exchanges or phone conversations to get to know a little more about the family dynamic…but not this time. This shoot was quite exciting because I have known this family for many years and therefore I was super pumped to be able to capture the love between them, because it is rare! So rare that after years of joking (not joking) around about being adopted by the matriarch, we have yet to sign the papers. Hit me up when you’re ready to proceed, Sally!
Here in Asheville, we have a little home nestled in the hills just on the outskirts of town, maybe you’ve heard of the Biltmore Estate. Well, originally this place was on 125,000 acres of land and it now maintains a measly 8,000 acres, but at least the acreage is beautifully maintained and originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (known for other incredible spaces such as Central Park in NYC). Roaming through the garden trails and lagoon neighboring fields is where we would adventure, and it is one of my places to do just that.
Before we talk about anything else, you must meet LB, she’s the super star of this bunch. She sometimes pretends to be shy, but I know better than that, and even if she’s quiet at the start of any time with her, I can assure you that this child will crack you up and keep you smiling for the rest of your day. And, these few shots of her will prove that at times it is the “LB Show” and you’re so happy to be tuned in, or bring out surprise information such as sometimes one just must surf on the roof of the car before we can proceed. Love her!!
One of the beautiful things about Ess, the rock solidly holding down the middle generation, is that not only is she a powerful force, she has personally helped me through some times that I questioned whether or not I’d get through. And, I did. For that I am grateful. She is so strong, and this threesome wouldn’t be without her. I know how much her mom loves her and how much her daughter looks up to her. The force is strong with this one (and please don’t take that at a Star Wars reference as that is definitely not my thing).
I would be totally remiss to not say a few more words about Sally/Mom/Yaya and all she does. She not only holds down the fort that is LB while Ess is in school, but she is also an inspiration of how to retire with a no regrets attitude, and she earned it. She didn’t just survive cancer, she is also a board member of Journey to be FREE Naturally, helping others get through what she did. And, she is not just a grandmother hanging out with her dog, Rusty, this woman often stays out dancing way past my bedtime.
I’m not going to pull out a quote from the movie Lilo & Stitch to express the power of family as I have more respect for myself than that, but it is true. I am also not going to share any of the inner workings of these three, so trust me when I say that they have been through some shit that most people cannot imagine and I am convinced that part of the reason they are still standing as strong as they are is because they have each other. We all need our people, our chosen family, to get through some of the rigors that life deals out, and what I find beautiful about these three, is that while blood made them family, their relationships with each other are even stronger because they have also chosen each other.
Whoa! Who decided to get all emotional in that moment? Surely it wasn’t me because it made me tear up a little bit and I’m trying to write a blog post, so I think that it is important to remember how much fun I had with them. That has always been one of the stronger themes of any time we spend together- laughter. I have mad respect for this crew and I am so happy that I was able to capture the three of them together, something they had wanted to do for a very long time. I hope to be able to do another shoot with them when Ess graduates next year from school, or when LB finishes elementary school, or when Sally’s social calendar opens up (she has way more energy than I do!), either way it’ll be an honor and a joy. Cheers!