I remember standing in the lobby of a rustic lodge in Freycinet National Park, (in Tasmania, Australia), desperately trying to get a signal to send an email. One of my 2013 wedding clients had contacted me with an awesome request–would I be willing to do a family photo shoot (when I was back in the U.S.A) of her extended family, in honor of their grandmother’s 90th birthday? The only hitch was that her surprise birthday party was soon, and they needed a gift certificate to present to her. Finally, the email went through and I assured her that the minute that returned to Sydney, I would send along a gift card for Eleanor’s 90th birthday. I think there is no greater gift than a family photo session!
Fast forward a few months, and we finally found a date in early April that worked for everyone to meet, which involved gathering the troops from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and various parts of Connecticut. It’s not easy to coordinate something like this (we photographed their party of 14, ages ranging from 3-90!) but they made it happen. I wrote more about their photo session last week, you can check it out here.
I asked Meghan, whose beautiful Boston wedding I had the honor of photographing a year ago, to write a bit about why they chose a family portrait as her gift–I knew Eleanor valued photography–but what Meghan wrote blew me away. I had chills as I was reading it. It only emphasizes how rewarding it is for me to record these moments, and how photographs can hold significant importance and meaning, especially over time.
“As you know the Houle Family is very close, and Eleanor, age 90, is the pillar of the group. Her life is her family–daughters, grandsons, and great-grand kids. When you walk into the Houle house, you immediately see that every part of their lives is captured through pictures. They have photo albums, collages, old photographs, wedding pictures–from everyone. Eleanor’s room is a walk down memory lane in every aspect of her life–pictures surround her on all 4 walls, as well as on dressers and tucked into mirrors. Her husband passed away at a young age, (Mike and his brothers never met their Grandfather) so you can see the love they shared through her wedding photos that hang on her wall.
Eleanor turned 90 this year, and for a women who has it all, we struggled to brainstorm the perfect gift idea for her. Mike and I were just newlyweds and everyone was talking about and ordering our wedding photos. I mentioned to the family that since pictures are such a big part of Eleanor’s life, we should update the Houle Family photo. The last full family photo they had taken still hangs, yet it was taken 7 years ago and is missing 3 grandchildren and me. It was time to update! We rallied together to present the gift certificate for a photo session at her surprise 90th birthday party, and planned a date to get all 14 of us to create new and special moments for Eleanor to cherish for many years to come. We are now working on a huge family collage of photos from our session with Sarah (although there is not much wall space left!) to hang in Eleanor’s room.”
Thank you to Meghan and the entire Houle family for sharing your story, for motivating 14 of you fit a family photo session into your busy weekend of birthday parties and Palm Sunday mass, and for really understanding the value and true meaning of photographs. It was an honor to add to your storybook walls!