Where do I even begin? Let me start by saying what I won’t tell you. I won’t tell you alllll about Michelle Gardella and what a soulful human she is. Or how her writing has brought me to tears. Or how her photography needs no captions. All of that you should learn on your own. What I am here to tell you about is how it came to be that I photographed Michelle and her family at a Christmas tree farm outside of Austin, TX.
It sounds funny to me to say, but Michelle and I have some history. I had followed and admired her work for a couple of years. At the time, Michelle and her husband and two kids were traveling around in an Airstream and happened to be coming through Austin. I jumped on on the opportunity and she photographed me for one of her River Story sessions. This was at a time when I had just (reluctantly) moved to Texas and she was (ironically) getting ready to settle in Texas. There was a lot of “whaaaaat are we doing in Texas?!” conversations. Ha! Years later, I attended one of her Sisterhood Retreats and really got to know her better. (I’ve dreamed about going back to that house in Wimberly so many times…but that’s another story for another time.)
So when your mentor and photography girl crush asks you to photograph her family in Austin, you.say.yes. (Then freak out later.) The details and specifics were fluid all the way up to the start of the session. But somehow, none of that bothered me. I was nervous for sure, but really just felt like I was there to bear witness to their “family-ness”. Kind of a I’m-ready-when-you-are situation. I gave her the biggest squeeze, and I felt like we both exhaled our worries. From then on, it was smiles, big family hugs, belly laughs (omg I made her whole family sit in a patch of burs), tree-hugging, and Christmas wreath crown wearing fun.
I found myself in one of my favorite places (Austin), with my favorite people (my family was along for the ride), with a family whose family-ness was in full force…it almost seems like an out of body moment. Reliving it through their photos keeps it real.
Isn’t that what family photos are supposed to do? THAT’s why I do this. To create images for all of the “remember the time when….” talks, while snuggled on the couch with YOUR people.