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

Cindy & Ben’s Wedding at Mallard Island

2020 has been quite the wild ride, and it has been especially nuts for those couples who were scheduled to get married in spring or summer this year.  Cindy and Ben had to push their date back 2 times before getting a date that they could stick to, and even so, they needed to make lots of adjustments to the plan to meet safety regulations and have a party where guests could enjoy themselves and stay safe. These guys pulled it off masterfully, and when Cindy’s dad joked about them starting a ‘covid wedding planning’ business it made perfect sense to me. When asked to reflect on their approach to the event, Cindy and Ben wrote:
“We both love LBI– Cindy’s parents bought this beach house when she was a freshman in college.”  Cindy wrote: “I have countless special memories here, especially with my Mom. LBI is probably my favorite place on the planet. I am definitely a beach/ocean girl. When we started dating, Ben quickly fell in love with it too & it’s been a no-brainer to quarantine here (been here since end of March). So, it was an obvious choice to get married here also! We love Mallard Island & have been leaning into a sophisticated beach (well, bay) wedding! For colors, we’ve chosen lots of blue and corals to pick up on the water and sunset backdrop. We have also done many Daisy accents as they were a meaningful symbol for my Mom (chapel flowers, flower girl dress & basket, Bridesmaid bouquets, masks, seed packet favors.) We are incorporating our dogs in the personalized hand sanitizer stickers & signature drink signage. We are providing masks for all the guests– We have a Sailboat pattern (Cindy’s Dad has a sailboat named for her Mom “Beverly T.”) and a mermaid pattern.”
It was truly such a pleasure to capture this wedding after months and months of no social gatherings due to the pandemic and you could feel how much their family and friends were enjoying the opportunity to celebrate their love together in a community, even if only for one evening. Congratulations to Cindy and Ben, you gave us all such a special day with you at Mallard Island!
Vendor Credits:
Reception Venue: Weddings of Distinction
Event Design: Gianna Verdoni
Wedding gown: Pronovias
Hair AND Makeup: Beach House Spa
Bridesmaid dresses: Kleinfeld Bridal Party
Groom’s suit/tux: Enzo Custom
Officiant: Iris Blasi
Invitation Design: Minted

Carly & Jason’s Winter Wedding at The Garden City Hotel

Carly & Jason were married on a chilly Saturday evening in February at The Garden City Hotel on Long Island, New York, under a beautiful Chuppah, surrounded by their loved ones.  I began the day with Carly and her bridesmaids (13!) getting ready in the hotel’s preparation suite.  It was plenty roomy for her crew and the hair/makeup artists and me and video– and I was able to take detail shots with some of the decor just out in the adjacent hallway (including a grand piano!).  Not far away my assistant photographer captured Jason and his buddies getting into tuxes.  Due to the extremely chilly weather Carly and Jason opted for a first look indoors, which was no problem seeing as the hotel had a nice big area that would later host their cocktail hour.  The look on Jason’s face says it all in that moment– Carly looked absolutely stunning in her gorgeous gown and it was a delight to make portraits with this sweet couple– they were great sports and let me take them outside for some shots with the hotel in the background and of course a little splash of greenery for variety.  I couldn’t resist getting a few shots on the staircases in the lobby as well– I just had to capture Carly’s train as she walked up the stairs.  The florist had set up an amazing floral Chuppah on a platform in the ceremony space and it provided the perfect backdrop for the big group pictures with their bridesmaids and groomsmen, and of course all the family combination shots to come.  I always love checking off this groups shot-list– it’s very satisfying to create those lasting portrait images that I know families will print and frame and revisit often!  Then we moved into a space across the way where Jason and Carly signed their Ketubah, which was an incredible piece of art with a beautiful cut-paper overlay to display it with.  Their Rabbi was a gifted and humorous orator and did a fantastic job of leading them and their loved ones through this signing and the ceremony to come, which was so romantic and beautiful with the dimmed lights and candle-lit aisle and the orchid-laden Chuppah.  After tying the knot Jason and Carly retreated for some time alone while guests were treated to a multi-room cocktail hour with various delicious looking food stations.  Meanwhile the ceremony room was being busily transformed into a reception room and a big stage was being set up for the amazing Chevy Chevis band.  Jason and Carly came in to see the room and I had them practice their first dance for a photo.  Before you know it, this party was getting started, and what a party it was!  The band was huge and could seemingly perform anything– they kept the guests dancing all night long.  Highlights included a Hora, a Mezinke (both favorites of mine!) and some very sweet toasts from the parents of both bride and groom as well as a gorgeous and delicious looking cake!  I couldn’t be happier for this delightful couple– it warms my heart to see such well-matched and kind people find one another and make this beautiful committment to share their lives.  Congratulations to Carly & Jason!

Vendor Credits:

Venue: The Garden City Hotel

Bridal Attendant: Olga Palusko

Dress:  Mira Zwillinger

Shoes: Jimmy Choo 

Makeup:  Anabelle Laguardia

Hair:  Rachel Watson

Floral Design: Andrew Pascoe

Band: Chevy Chevis 

Officiant: Rabbi Lev Herrnson

Ketubah: Enya Keshet

Invitations: Inklinations

Video: Mike Williams



Jaclyn & Larry’s Wedding at Village Club

Jaclyn & Larry were married at the Cure of Ars Church in Merrick, NY on a sunny winter saturday in December. We began the day at their respective homes nearby on Long Island where they were getting ready with their bridal party and parents. A charming Trolley was arranged to transport the groomsmen and then the bride and bridesmaids to the church. They had a Catholic ceremony complete with readings and music and a moving sermon about marriage. After a lively receiving line, Jaclyn and Larry exited the church as their guests cheered for them and blew bubbles. Due to the waning day and unknown transportation timeframe we went ahead and played it safe and got a bunch of their couple portraits right there in and outside the church before they hopped into the Trolley with the rest of their wedding party. We got to the Village Club with just enough time to shoot some lovely sunset portraits on the edge of the golf course. It was so cold of course the rest of our group photos were slated for indoors, where the family was arriving. The couple was able to enjoy a magnificent cocktail hour with guests and then it was on to the party! The Jenna Wynne Band provided fantastic music all night long, and Jaclyn and Larry were no slouches on the dance floor! After their first dance and parent dances we heard a handful of speeches from Jaclyn’s parents and siblings of both bride and groom. Everyone was delighted by the stories about these two— they are obviously meant to be! After a beautiful cake cutting, guests were treated to a dessert parade on the dance floor, but this celebration just wouldn’t quit! Congratulations to Jaclyn & Larry, may they enjoy every happiness!

Vendor Credits:
Ceremony Location: Cure of Ars Church
Hair & Makeup: Willowhouse Beauty
Bridesmaid Dresses: Jenny Yoo
Groom’s Suit/Tux: Black Tux
Officiant: Father Tom Harold
Invitation Design & Escort Cards: Minted
Floral Design: Black Dahlia
Favor Cards & Signage: Zazzle