Day in the Life Family Documentary Photos: The Bulans in Black Mountain, NC

I met Mary Bulan in a Tiny House building workshop at Wild Abundance last fall, and was delighted to discover that her wife Kiera was a classmate of mine at Wesleyan, on campus at the same time I was and hanging out in adjacent social circles. After getting my family documentary photography concept solidified I was eager to capture some different families and the Bulans have such a unique lifestyle I just had to spend the day with them! They are raising 2 young boys, 2 cats, and a dog, all while managing a small flower farm in Black Mountain.

Over the course of this saturday we spent together they made the kids breakfast, harvested flowers and the boys played outside. They took the family for a hike with the dog over on the trails surrounding Montreat college– it was a gorgeous day for a walk through the woods. Upon return home there was some downtime for Kiera to arrange flowers for selling from a stand by the driveway, and the boys got into a baseball game on TV. Later in the afternoon it was time for them to host the last U-Pick window of the fall over at their flower farm field they manage, and they had invited friends and family to come out and enjoy the last nice weather with them.  That night it was expected that freezing temps would inevitably damage the remaining flowers and peppers they had been growing at the farm, so everyone was encouraged to pick as many flowers as they could!  I myself even brought home a vase with some lovely zinnia and other gorgeous blooms!

While Mary and Kiera hosted friends and customers at the U-Pick, the boys played in the adjacent field with friends, throwing the baseball, finding and swinging sticks around at each other, tackling and and rough-housing as boys this age so often do. I had a blast capturing the pure energy of these two and their buddies playing outside. And of course, I love shooting flowers, so I have included in a few images of the blossoms at the farm to give you a taste of this sweet flower farm!

After packing up the van, it was time for an pizza dinner at their favorite local spot, complete with some arcade-areas options for the kids to spend a few quarters in. They got the baseball game up on the TV and everyone was happy and hungery for pizza. The boys were exhausted at the end of the day, and watching the end of the game was a special treat they got if they’d get ready for bed and brush their teeth. Mary read them a book and they were off to sweet baseball dreams.

These boys are so lucky to grow up with a pair of supermoms like Mary and Kiera, I had such a sweet time getting to capture a day in the life of this wonderful family and I was so inspired by them I may just have to figure out a way to set up bouquets of flowers for sale from a stand in my own driveway next spring!

two brothers wrestling in their room during a day in the life family documentary photography session in the asheville NC region
documentary photography throughout a day in the life of one family: Mary and Kiera are a married lesbian couple with two wonderful young sons


Want to see more of these sessions? Click here or here to visit a few other Day in the Life family documentary sessions I’ve shot in the WNC / Asheville area– you get me for a full day of observing and artistically capturing all the sweet, funny, routine, and sometimes painfully authentic moments that will pull up all the genuine memories you can look back on and relive what it was like inside your family at this moment in time.

Mellie & Peter’s wedding at The Barn at Tall Oaks in Hendersonville, NC

Mellie & Peter were married with an intimate Saturday afternoon wedding at this gorgeous barn-style venue just south of Asheville, North Carolina. I loved getting to capture a few hours of this casual summer celebration– the relaxed atmosphere and setting couldn’t be more beautiful.

Congratulations to Mellie and Peter and thank you for having me capture your wedding photography!

After a pandemic-years gap in my wedding bookings I must say it is wonderful to be shooting in a different area of the country– exploring venues I’ve never shot at gives me a real thrill, and The Barn at Tall Oaks was no exception. The family that built this place thought of everything! The well-designed “barn” structure is beautifully built with all the charm of a barn at a farm but the comfortable air conditioning of a high end event space.  With room for a catering team to stage up their serving, an adjoining covered deck perfect for a cocktail hour with a bar, and dressing rooms for both bride and groom, this space is one I certainly hope to shoot at again!

A Day in the Life of the Armhardts: Family Documentary Photography

I recently had the honor of spending the day with this sweet family of three: the Armhardts!  Julie and Dave are dear friends of ours– my husband and I moved down here from NYC because over a series of visits to see Julie and Dave here, we fell in love with the area. When they had their daughter, Olive, I was so proud of my friend and I couldn’t wait to take pictures for them, and I’ve had the pleasure of doing that a handful of times since she was a baby.  Watching our friends mature into such great parents has been sweet, and little Olive is growing up so fast, it’s unbelievable.
This latest opportunity was an opportunity to do another test of my newest obsession: day in the life family documentary photography. I took care to prepare them ahead of time, letting them know that though I’d be spending the whole day with them, I would mostly be documenting and not as interactive as usual, and that Olive could more or less just try to forget I was there.
The day came and I showed up as early as I thought they’d be getting up, but they were already mid-morning routine, and getting ready for Olive’s big day running in a 5K at her elementary school, just a walk down the street. Olive had earned a trophy for her age group of girls when she ran in the same race the previous year, so she was hopeful she could repeat the trick and her parents encouraged her to do her best.
Always the hard worker, after the run got started, Dave walked home to bang out some lawn-mowing while Julie and I kept tabs on the race at a nearby corner– just at the top of the steepest stretch of the route. He joined us to cheer for Olive as she passed by, walking for the uphill stretch. We walked back to the school and waited for her to cross the finish line.  As runners finished the 5K, Julie and Olive enjoyed the fair activities and checked the time stats to see if she’d earned another trophy, and indeed she had!  We walked back to their house to share the good news, and in classic form, Olive was more excited about showing Dave the painted rock character she made than her new trophy.
Julie is an amazing artist, and on Saturdays, Julie works in her studio at The Wedge, often bringing Olive for some of the day, and today was no exception. Olive knows all the artists on the hall and enjoys making her own works on paper at a little fold-out table Julie has ready to set up for her daughter to use when there.  Dave picked her up for a pizza lunch down by the river, and from there they went for a walk at a park with a lake, a playground, and a path by a beautiful waterfall. Olive challenged her father to races where they would select leaves or sticks to float downstream, seeing who’s item would win the race. After a few hours of exploring the park and then making a new friend on the playground, it was time to go home.
Julie returned from her studio and made a nice supper, and then Julie and Olive took their sweet dog Kizzy on her evening walk. Dave met them about halfway through and we tossed the frisbee around at the field behind Olive’s school for a while. Once home, they proceeded with their usual bedtime wind-down routine before Olive’s bedtime, with some family TV time followed by Dave reading to them from a chapter book, and Olive brushing her teeth. Looking back through the pictures I couldn’t believe how much fun and work gets done in a typical day in their world.
Part of what I want to do in my day in the life sessions with families is to capture just how much effort and attention and hard work parents put into the ongoing daily life they create for their children. I want moms and dads to know the dedication to getting things done well may feel often underappreciated, but it is very evident, and they are seen! With any luck, preserving a slice of life for posterity may offer the opportunity in the future for grown children to look back and gain new appreciation for all the special experiences they had growing up in their unique family.
My aim is to provide elegant coffee table books that include highlights and favorite shots from the day, presented one image per page with a minimum of around 100 images like the set shown here. Over time if families hire me to document a day with their families every year or so, they’ll have a growing collection of beautiful books that will be fun for parents and children to look back through and remember all the stages of growth– in their child’s personality, their activities and routines together, and in their relationships together as a family.
Would you love to have your family life captured in this documentary style? Reach out! I’m taking applications for a few more portfolio-shoot families in Asheville and would love to hear from you if you think you’d be a great fit!

Family Documentary Photography: A day in the life of the Crowe Family

Since moving to the Asheville, NC area from NYC at during the pandemic I have been thinking through the kinds of photography I want to pursue here.  I’m sure I’ll keep shooting weddings, but I feel excited to try offering new specialties in this new place. A few years ago I became enthralled with a documentary style “day in the life” concept that might be thought of as a sort of revolution in the family portraiture genre. I saw Kirsten Lewis pioneering this style and I know there are folks whom it resonates with, and I’m hoping to find those families and clients here. If you dread the standard family portrait sessions and love the idea of having beautiful authentic moments between you and your kids preserved for remembering this special time in your family’s life, this might be for you! 

My first sample family shoot was with Todd and Heidi and their sweet daughters Aziza and Nehara. They recently moved into a new house and are just such a fun bunch. We planned for me to hang out all day on a Saturday when they’d be all together, and I spent the day documenting moments unfolding as they just did (without any activity-planning or direction). I arrived at 8am, when Heidi had said they typically get started with a routine where Todd makes breakfast with the girls while Heidi gets time alone to do some yoga, and indeed they were all more or less freshly awake when i tiptoed in the front door and got my cameras out. They day saw lots of fun spontaneous activity– playing inside and out, the girls spending time with Todd in his workshop (I love these shots! Editing was so hard!) and some soil test science experiments while Todd planted some boysenberries. I was totally in my flow state with shooting, and of course I took breaks from the camera at various points (nap time etc) when it felt more appropriate to be there or hang out and chat a bit. After a late lunch / early dinner the whole family walked across the street for a casual party at the neighbors’ yard and the girls enjoyed seeing the fish in their pond and roasting marshmallows at a bonfire. I concluded the day with them by capturing the bedtime routine’s high points of reading, teeth brushing, reading the books the girls chose that night, and tucking them in for bed.


I loved how relaxed this family was able to be while being photographed — Though we’ve been becoming friends before I suggested this the kids barely knew me, but they quickly got used to my presence and the occassional click of the camera.  I think this sort of session can be way less stressful on parents because you’re not expected to look perfect or do anything particular for my camera, and the kids don’t have to “behave”– the whole point is to capture what their life is like, “flaws” and all! I found so much satisfaction and delight in being allowed in to observe and capture moments that preserve the unique family relationships with all the love and hard work and patience and caring and fun between these parents and their children. A million thanks to the Crowe family for being my first subjects in this style!

I’m looking for more families to do this work with– do get in touch if you’re interested in applying to be one of my sample families as I build up a small portfolio to start marketing this style shoot at full price. Due to the long hours of shooting and editing involved, will be priced as a significant investment, but of course I plan to make it worth every penny! 

Katie & Tom’s 2020 Wedding at The Stanwich Club

Katie and Tom were married on a beautiful Saturday in October in Connecticut, after what surely has been the most tumultuous wedding planning season ever.  As a nurse and a police officer I can only imagine the weight of the year they’ve had, but these two have had such an incredible attitude through the twists and turns of this year. Luckily they didn’t have to postpone the wedding, though I’m sure it was in limbo for longer than anyone would like– of course they were compelled to make it smaller and instead of a big dance party at the reception their guests enjoyed a more relaxed atmosphere.  And enjoy it they did!  After months of so much isolation and separation, folks were thrilled for the chance to be together and talk with friends and family and the reception was a lively affair with much love and joy in the air.  I started the day at Katie’s parents’ home, where she and her bridesmaids were getting ready for the big day.  I couldn’t resist taking lots of pictures of Katie descending their gorgeous staircase to the foyer where her father had a first look with his daughter, stunning in a classic off-the-shoulder wedding gown that fit her perfectly. The day was planned so Tom would see her first as she walked down the aisle inside their church, and their ceremony was beautiful indeed– a full Catholic mass with guests seated in socially-distanced aisles.  After tying the knot, Katie and Tom were greeted as they emerged from the church by rows of their friends and family throwing petals in celebration of their love. We were able to capture some quick portraits inside the church with this incredible stained glass window and some of the larger family group shots outside in front before heading to the Stanwich Club, where I was able to do many of their portraits and group shots outside with one of the most gorgeous giant trees I’ve ever seen, just a short walk outside the golf club facility. Guests were treated to an outdoor cocktail hour with patio heaters and blankets at the ready, though the weather ended up being quite pleasant. After moving inside to a tented-area of the patio for dinner and music, the couple performed a lovely first dance, complete with a beautiful dip!  Highlights included a a lovely first dance, complete with a beautiful dip, an artist painting the scene over the course of the evening, funny and moving toasts from the maid of honor and best men, and we were even treated to a sweet serenade from Katie’s father. Towards the end of the night I had the pleasure of capturing Katie and Tom outside by a beautiful fire as well as few other cool spots I picked out for night portraits.  Congratulations to Katie and Tom!  They deserve every happiness!
Vendor Credits:
Ceremony Location: St. Lawrence Catholic Church
Reception Venue: The Stanwich Club
Wedding Day-of Coordinator: Hannah Elsaesser of Eloquence Events
Wedding gown: Susan Neville
Bride’s shoes: Betsey Johnson
Bridesmaid dresses: Amsale
Groom’s suit/tux: Men’s Wearhouse
Invitation Design: Paperless Post
Floral Design: Fairfield Florist
Other: Music: Get Down Entertainment
Wedding Cake: Sweet Lisa’s
Videographer: NST Pictures
Painter: Erika Angeli