Family photography is about families. I observe families whether they are aware of it or not and strive to make family photographs that capture the love that I see. I met Anna through a friend, and then her partner Emilie when I was looking for someone to take care of my son, Morrison. I just loved the way they are together and I loved how they were with Morrison.
I feel so lucky to have found them to help raise my son when I am at work. When I was thinking about my August Mother of the Month, these two and their family embody everything I want in a family and a relationship. And they let me capture them.
Anna charmed me at first sight. She had a natural warmth and an impish sparkle in her eye. We met online and on our first date, we walked from Victrola through Volunteer Park, where we climbed a tree and sat in the branches, talking about our shared interest in science and art. She was very funny and a bit mischievous. At the time we met, I’d been in Seattle for a few years and I was pretty well established in my career as a biologist. I was so happy to be in Seattle and I was ready to settle down. I loved the idea having a family, but I’d never been sure if I’d have kids. I figured it would depend on who I met. With Anna, I hit the family jackpot! She has two wonderful kids, Sylvia and Leander, who are now 9 and 7. We live in the house where Anna grew up in south Seattle, and her mother Kathy lives in a cute little cabin behind our house. We all have a great connection, these three generations of outdoorsy, brainy, creative, independent people. We’re all animal lovers. I’m not sure how many pets we have, but there are dogs, goats, bunnies, ducks, chickens, and one enormous cat who runs the whole place. Anna has a preschool at the house, and there are always people stopping by — preschool families, neighbors, Kathy’s radical old lady friends. Our house is a community hub and it feels like a very special place to be.
Oh, Jennifer Loomis. I’ll be honest that I fell in love with your baby before I met you. I met Mo (and you, eventually) through our dear mutual friend Diane. Her kids are best friends with our kids, and she brought Mo to our house during play dates. Since Diane and Mo were your people, how could I not love you, too? And then I saw your photography. You have a style that strips away the masks we wear every day and reveals our connection with one another and our joy. The photo shoot we did together was fun and playful. The kids loosened up pretty quickly — they loved your silly vibe. When you said, “Show me how you hug Anna.” it made me feel like the ways we embrace and touch are special and that you respected and celebrated those simple intimacies.
Step parenting isn’t for wimps. I try hard to strike a delicate balance of loving and supporting the kids, supporting Anna in her parenting, and upholding my own boundaries and limits. The kids would have me be their personal jungle gym and house servant all day, everyday! At first, I read a few step parenting books that were sort of helpful, but mostly scared the crap out of me with stories of kids torturing their step parents. The most helpful book I’ve read is Hold onto Your Kids by Neufeld & Mate. It takes attachment parenting through the stages of childhood and into the teen years. It helped Anna and me have some really meaningful conversations about how to make our parenting consistent with one another and with our family culture. I’ve found that the most important thing I can do as a step parent is to spend time doing things the kids enjoy, being available to listen and play, and to really get to know each other. Our kids have plenty of parental figures in their lives; they don’t really need my guidance on their behavior. I try my best to really show up for them, enjoy our time together, and let them see me live my life as a vulnerable, strong, mistake-making person, and a loving partner to their mother. There’s a lot of love in our house.