We humans are amazingly flexible. The past two months have been a roller coaster ride of emotions, changes and stress. But we have adapted to changing circumstances and created new routines and habits in a matter of weeks.

But when I saw the McCallister family get out of their car, I realized that not seeing people will never be a “new normal”. I need people! We need community and nothing can replace the joy of seeing someone face-to-face. After 2 months of no church, it was so fun to see this family and spend an hour taking their portraits.

Noah is one of the 2020 seniors whose last year of high school has been turned upside down. No sports, no goodbyes to classmates and teachers, no prom and no graduation. It’s a lot of unexpected change, but Noah (and all the seniors of 2020) has taken it all in stride. Noah is a golfer, so it made sense to take his portraits at Covered Bridge in Sellersburg, IN. If you know anything about golf (spoiler alert…I don’t know much), you know it takes a steady hand and great focus. Of course, I was so excited to see PEOPLE again, that I may or may not have disturbed several golfing parties with my loud laughter (especially when the wind took everyone's hair for a ride...). Oh well.

In the Fall, Noah will be attending Liberty University in the fall with his brother Hayden! Congratulations, Noah! I’m glad we know you and your family and we are excited for you to start college life in the Fall!

It feels like years since I shared last, when in reality it's only been a month. But I think that's a pretty universal feeling right now - March was the longest month we've ever experienced. So much has changed, so many weird details are "normal" now (masks at the Chick-Fil-A drive thru, anyone?) and we're all just feeling "out of whack".

For the Sumners family, we are thankful to be safe and healthy, to have jobs that allow us to work from home, for great technology that allows us to worship with our church family from our home and for some amazing caregivers for Emma during the workweek. Our lives has been minimally inconvenienced, but it's nothing compared to the sorrow, stress and financial devastation that some families are dealing with right now. We do not take that for granted.

On a photography front, since our industry is considered "non-essential", it has limited the sessions we've been able to take on, engagement sessions have had to be postponed and weddings have had to be moved. It has weighed heavily on me for the couples who have had to think about moving their wedding day, limiting guest lists, fearing for elderly relatives and dealing with their own work and life stress on top of "normal" wedding planning. It's a hard time, but I think it emphasizes the beauty and preciousness of marriage - I wouldn't want anyone besides Jeremy to be my quarantine partner and we have both had to lean on the Lord and each other HARD over the past month (note the Emma attitude in one of the images below...you might get an idea of what I mean). I'm not going to lie, spending every weeknight with your best friend is a pretty sweet deal. We're here for all our sweet couples and hopeful that they will each experience the joy of marriage in the next year, even with delays and changes.

Even with the limitations on formal sessions, we've been able to capture some sweet moments from our own life over the past month. If you've been following my Insta-stories, you've seen that we've been on a LOT of walks. We've explored our neighborhood, checked out some new parks , eaten breakfast on the deck and gotten a lot of takeout. Emma is 100% an outside girl (we're really not sure where she got this...) and loves to be in the fresh air. That calls for breakfast outside, lunch outside, walks in the rain and picking every flower or weed that we pass by. We love our precious girl and she makes quarantine super fun.

I am itching to shoot more sessions and looking forward to a day when we can stand closer than 6 feet apart again. But for now, I'm thankful for health, the joy in everyday activities and the privilege we have to rest during this season.

I have a confession to make - I am a terrible procrastinator when it comes to getting our family portraits taken. Let’s be honest, it can feel overwhelming - you have to find a photographer, pick a time, make sure all the family members are available, find clothes that don’t clash, keep everybody clean and happy and THEN you have to hope that the weather behaves! Add on top of that the cultural expectation that your family portraits include everyone looking at the camera at the same time AND smiling - whew! It’s a lot! And sometimes you have to ask yourself...is it worth all the hassle?

Before we had Emma, I remember a time when I noticed that a family friend had a canvas of their family portraits on the wall and (because kids grow at insane rates) even though it was taken within the past year, their kids looked completely different! The baby was a toddler, the toddler was a little kid....life had changed for them. And I distinctly remember thinking “it’s almost not worth getting them taken, they change so fast!”

Fast forward 4ish years and I have my own kiddo and I can’t believe I ever said that. We have iPhones FULL of daily photos of Emma, because we just don’t want to miss a second! As parents, we know that we want to document those precious moments because they go by so quickly. We see numerous articles and blogs advocating for Mom to get in front of the camera. But when it comes to actually making it happen, it can be hard.

So I have to be transparent about these family portraits. I was overwhelmed and wishing I had lost 5 more pounds of baby weight (you know, 18 months later). Emma was tired and spent the moments between scarfing down Goldfish and fussing. Jeremy was cranky. It was chilly. And I selfishly just wanted some “good” portraits. God bless my sweet sister who was so patient with us and Lloyd who entertained Emma with Goldfish.

All of that to say...it was worth it. In spite of the occasional tears, the crankiness and the cold, we have portraits that capture our interactions during our "right now". To be honest, they help us remember both the joy and difficulty of this stage of life. It’s a reminder that just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. Just because raising a toddler is exhausting doesn’t mean that we don’t love it. There’s gladness and exhaustion in these portraits and I’ll remember the tears and the apologies along with the laughter and Goldfish. Because that’s a part of our life too.

© 2019 Beth Sumners Photography

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