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‘no one’s ever made me feel so much like me.’

The Whitneys from maile wilson on Vimeo.

Maile (pronounced Miley), from Relish Photography, contacted me a few months ago, wondering if I would want to be a “model” for her camera bags, in a new ad campaign. (Sounds so fancy.)(I put “model” in “quotes” because no matter what anyone else says, I will always feel like I am making a weird face in front of  a camera.) Loving her bags and her photography the way I do, I jumped at the chance. I was thrilled to have been asked.

For my shoot, she wanted a California beach kind of vibe, and told me she was renting a red VW bus to use. She was speaking my language. I was excited. Beyond.

And THEN, she told me she wanted to photograph my family, as a thank you. Um, excuse me? What did you just say? My family? On the beach? With a red VW bus? Am I dreaming?

I think I was dreaming. I think I still am.

We had pretty recently had our photos taken by my dear friend Bonnie, yet it was a surprise to see how we have changed since May. My kids grow like weeds in the summer! It makes me feel like once a year is not enough for family photos. I think we need to do them quarterly. Hear that, Jeff?

…I am so glad I have those images that Bonnie took in May. I am so glad I have these, too. These, with Drew’s new favorite hat, Nate’s new favorite glasses, Anna’s new favorite boots. All accessories that we rarely see them without lately. I love that Nathan never took his glasses off. I love that she never asked him to. These, with Jeff in “casual office attire” since he raced straight from work to make it before sunset, and by the way, she got these family shots in a measly 15 minutes. And that he did it for me, when leaving work and driving in traffic and doing a photo shoot is his least favorite thing in the entire world. That he did it means a lot to me. These, with that glorious summer light. With Nate’s hand on Drew’s head. Drew’s arm around Ken. Me laughing while photographing them. With Mckenna and her impish face. Jeff’s one toenail that he allowed Anna to paint. Me with my face in his neck, my favorite place. Our hair flying around. These, with that glorious perfect little VW. The kind that I will own someday, or else. These, with so many little interactions that maybe no one else will pick up on, but that I see, and I treasure that they are caught for me to stare at whenever I want, forever.

I had never met Maile before, but one night together and I already want to be her friend for a very long time. After our shoot, we shared some meaty conversation over fishbowl margaritas and carnitas tacos. That’s how I like to woo the ladies. I dropped her off at her hotel and felt like I was saying goodnight to a long lost bosom buddy. Now, I feel that way even more so. Seeing how she saw us the way I see us. I think I might have photographed us just like this, had I been able to clone myself and do it that night.

She asked me for two of my favorite songs to make this slideshow, and since that is an impossible question for me to answer, I gave her two songs I just happened to fall in love with today.
Go Together by Jillian Edwards
and
Pea by Rabbit

Go, download now, listen, and be happy.

I will sit here and be happy too.

Thank you will never be enough, girl.

xo

Tara

Alison - I cannot believe she did that in 15 minutes. Amazingly beautiful. Maile did an awesome job capturing you guys... jealous:)

Amber - oh wow - those are so amazing! And thanks for the songs - off to itunes...

Whitney Hill - Wow - really, really beautiful. The love is evident.

Justine - Seriously Tara, your family is so beautiful. Drew is still my favorite, just because I love that he has read Harry Potter and that he is so unique at such a young age! You are a great mom, and it shows in these pictures. I need to come babysit with Alisha.

Claire - Love, love, love this!!! It's simply beautifu...

Melissa - Two things. 1) you are so right, i felt like i was looking at pictures you took and 2) they are so magical!

Tracy - I don't think I've ever seen a family vslideshow any sweeter and lovelier than that. Love the music too

Michelle - What a fantastic memory of your wonderful family. So beautiful, all of you!!

Pol - Fantastic! LOVE the photos!

corinne delis - seriously, wow! I think she did such a good job, they are all so amazing but that one where Mckenna is lying on the sand took my breath away, GORGEOUS, what a treasure. Corinnexxx

MelissaFoscardo - Oh my! Simply wonderful!!

AmyC - I saw this last night when Maile posted it and I just fell in love! It is so perfect, it is so you! The first thing I said was how grown up and pretty McKenna looks! Like a young woman :) Drew with his guitar, so great. And the one of you alone, spinning and having fun, just lovely. They're all perfect!! Absolutely perfect.

Heather E Hubert - magic

Amanda - WOW. Speachless. Amazing.

Karen - Oh my, what a wonderful treasure to have this of your family! Just lovely!

Kristal - 15 minutes? Whoa! That is so amazing. These images AND the music to go along with them made me smile a great big huge one this morning while drinking my coffee. What a treasure for you and yours. Maile is incredibly talented. Thanks for the introduction to her work/art.

Trista - That is beautiful!

jen h - goose bumps all over. what a treat for you guys and maile! you are beautiful and so is your family connection.....maile is incredible too. I have her turquoise bag...so fun. (oh...i'm doing a blog giveaway on monday but I'm sure you have everything under the stars for photoshop fun, and some :)....thought I'd share the love just in case it's something you don't have....one I'm sure you have though)

Pam-Tara's mom - WOW!!!!So beautiful is right.....Words can't express Tara the video is amazing. To have to Cherish always,to watch over and over again. This is what good Karma and a loving circle of friends gets you!Get to keep the van too, right??(You Wish......)Love you all. mom

Puanani - Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. And you introduced me to the song I just may walk down the aisle to...Xo

Kirsten J - She so caught you - brought you to life - like seeing you in person again. You do look stinkin' foxy :) And oh that picture of Anna - she is going to be a beauty!

angela auclair - that was awesome. plain and simple.

laura h - Omg! Ever since Pea went up at Pacing the Panic Room, I've made like 73658593759392 people watch and listen. LOVE. Wish I could see the vid on my phone.

Jill - Such a beautiful, real family!!!

april - Gorgeous. Great keepsake for your family.

Gitz - Breathtaking. And seriously, it meant so much more... Held so much more weight... Since you let us more into your world. The pic of M laying in the sand was stunning. And you look full of love. Loved it all!

jessica o'brien - gorgeous! i'm loving your hair! drew with his guitar! how huggy your boys are (love that they'll hold hands)! thanks for sharing.

angi - Love it! Nothing short of awesome!

Beth Ann - Thank you thank you. You and your family are so special. And I thank you for the songs too....I needed some happy.

sarah - brilliant + beautiful! your family is just so sweet. i love seeing how affectionate you all are with one another - the boys holding hands, hugging their sisters, you + jeff...so lovely! how blessed you are!

shawna - oh i never comment, but maile is one of my all time faves and i can't stop watching this! she must have had her groove on from your modeling shoot to catch all this i 15 minutes. oh how i would have loved to see it! you guys are a beautiful family.

Lis - Tara, your family is just so lovely, I can't help but feel a smile stretch across my face seeing you all together. Every family has troubles and trials, but seeing the joy getting through them together is what creates love that is boundless.

elizabeth pellette - can I just say.. for some reason these made me cry? not sure why.. probably because the are so amazing.. because I wish I had photos like these of my family together.. interacting.. I really need to make that happen before they all grow up and dont want to hang out with my husband and I anymore... anyway.. thank you for sharing these.. they are wonderful

meredithwinn - what a beautiful combination! you and maile and a red VW bus. i love her slideshows and i love how she captured everyone's light!

Brandi - You are so blessed to have these lovely little moments captured like jewels to cherish forever and always...I have so many Faves...Mckenna laying on her side looking so peaceful, Drew with his arm over your shoulder (you will so love this when he is towering over you someday soon), I love love love the bare feet pictures. Thanks for sharing the smiles :)

Julie - Um...love it. Why do pictures show how beautiful we really are when real life seems so complicated, and unattractive at times...i don't know...but this is life, and art. So good.

Steph - Wow. Just wow. She is amazing at capturing light in her photos. I was just blown away by the way it looked just like fire. Absolutely gorgeous.

Melissa S. - Oh...the one with Drew's and Anna's backs facing the camera, with Drew's hand on Anna's back. Oh. That one. Gasp.

Erin - Absolutely loved it! I love your family.

Stacie - You . . . YOU, Tara Whitney, are Gorgeous!!! The pictures you take say a lot about who you are, but photos of YOU, shines a light on your heart and soul! loved 'em !

margie scherschligt - Love the shots of you and Jeff, where you are melting right into him. That shots of you behind the wheel...those expressions are so YOU! These are amazing.

lizz - I love it. The photo of McKenna laying in the sand is exquisite.

Le Anne - Seriously!???!!!! TARA!!!!! That was amazing! Oh and by the way, you look super dooper skinny! The kids really have grown up since May! This is just perfect, the VW bug is perfectly you and Jeff...loved the peace sign on the mirror!

Denise - love.love.love this so very much! what a lovely way to peek into your world.

Jo - Love it. Love that you have such a place...you who gives so much to your family. Love the laughter, the togetherness and the especially solitude. Fun fun shoot x

Dawn - OMG...these are beyond beautiful. The connections captured are amazing...I am in tears.

Anne - What a treasure. Love. It.

Caroline - So unbelievably beautiful! I really don't have words... I love the songs, love the images, love all of you.

Megan - Could you be any more beautiful? The photos of your kids squeezed my heart. :)

Angela Drake - JUST BEing you! Simply beautiful. After just going through a 7.1 earthquake I can honestly say cherish every moment....JUST BE! xx

patty - love, LOVE it! your family looks "at home" in the vw... oh, and LOVE the songs too! xoxo

Charla - Oh I just love this! Incredibly beautiful!

Janine - that was so fantastic!!

Carla - Ok. So I don't even know you or your family but I am totally crying right now at how obvious it is that you love each other. What a priceless treasure to have that day, that afternoon, that happy little sliver of time preserved.

Jessica Strom - THAT WAS AWESOME!!!! Seriously, it couldn't have been more perfect!! LOVE! SWOON! ADORE!!!

Jessica Hoff - Wow... love those pictures of you and your family. So real. And THANK YOU for the song referrals. They are fantastic. And now you've got me wondering what your other favorite songs are... do share! :)

yvette - It brought tears to my eyes. I saw love.

Kim - What beautiful pics of your family! Absolutely amazing :)

Penny - I can not begin to tell you how much I love your family and this video. We don't know each other and the love your family has and your heart as a mom...as a photographer...as a real genuine person..amazing. LOVE IT.

lisa leonard - beautiful!!!

Christy - What an awesome experience. I had a smile on my face the whole time I watched the video.

robin - just wonderful...

everton terrace - Some of the loveliest photos I've ever seen. So much better than the typical family portraits that grace many a wall and Christmas card. The songs were delightful. All of it, perfect.

Trude - Love, love, love. Maile is awesome. You guys look amazing! Fingers crossed that somebody generous has listened to my pleas and will gift me one of her bags for my birthday! :)

Steff - i loved all of it. and when did McKenna start to look so mature? she really looks like a young woman in these shots.

Dina - beautiful. you might not believe it, but it's a fact, ma'am. you are and your family is. what a gift!

Leslie - I will go, download, listen and be happy. You go, sit down, watch again and feel BEAUTIFUL!

Kathleen - What a treat Tara! These are awesome! And I always love your music choices :)

julie - your family exudes happiness. Thanks for the smile I needed! I can see why you are so thrilled with these. As photographers we take photos because we see the value in preserving memories- it's so nice when we get a chance to hold onto our own.

Domenico - Many great shots, but my favorite by far is the one where you are nestled in Mr Whitneys' neck... love as it should be. For every crummy marriage I see it only takes one like yours to make me believe. Thank you.

Josefina - Tara, you are so beautiful and so is your family. These photos are magical, a true treasure for any family! xoxo, Josefina.

Sue - Fantastic!!! You are a beautiful soul.

cindy b - Freakin' AWESOME!!! Love everything about it!!!

Christina C - :) You and your family are so beautiful! Oh and that van is heaven on wheels someday I will own a van like that.

amy tangerine - SO GORGEOUS. SO YOU. SO PERFECT. XOXO

heather - beautiful.

missy - I don't normally do or say things this transparent with complete strangers. I mean...never. Prepare yourself. But as I sit here sobbing at my laptop, I feel compelled. Your family is beautiful and you are beautiful in all your perfection and imperfection. I've been married for 9 years and we are trying to decide whether we should have children or not. But then I see you and your husband so clearly, like mirrors, in your children and I see your family connection and I read your posts about the happiness and pain that knit your family together...I cry....because I want that....but it terrifies me. Thank you for being so honest, for risking yourself in such a public forum. For being yourself--beauty and honesty and pain and messiness. It encourages the same thing in perfect strangers. So, from the other side of the country---thank you. You make me believe that I could have a family too.

j.ro - what a beautiful tribute to the end of summer vacation!

Helen - Oh you have such a beautiful family! WE too are on the look out for a VW van but its for my daughter. She has her learner permit now and soon will be driving...Unfortunately the ones we have seen require so much work so instead we put a down payment on a vintage VW bug. Hoping she'll like it!

Heather M - I believe that the love I see among you guys is real. I believe it because my children, though much younger, also embrace and love one another as much too. I pray every day that when they are older, THIS is what I will see in my lens. Love.

shelley e - omgosh- so cool- love the pictures and the songs you picked!!!

Stacy of KSW - What a fantastic gift for you family & oh my did she ever capture you guys. Everyone looks so beautiful and loved and happy. You will cherish these for a lifetime I am sure. Thank you so much, what an inspiring post/video :)

Jennifer - absolutely priceless; just a gorgeous capture of your family.

Brittani - =) awwwww!!! You're video was beautiful. You and your family are beautiful. And the song:: amazing. =) Thanks for posting this!!

Marla - What a treasure for you

Georgia - WOw! Can see why you were so excited by these- just gorgeous and so YOU. It's so nice to see you in photos, and I think those photos totally captured you and your lovely family.

emily - Your life is like a dream.

Kelli - 15 minutes! Wow! She has a great eye! And you have a beautiful family!

Krysta - ...so I went back and watched this again after being there. And I am indeed a "hot mess". Tears spilling over and a lump in my throat. She captured what I was lucky enough to soak up and I love it all.the.more. ...just wanted you to know. Loves. xo

Lisa - These are so, so amazing. Love the VW, love the natural beauty of you and your family, love the effortless of it all and yet the absolute 'perfectness' of all of it. And the songs....super love! They are downloaded and new favs!!! Thanks for sharing the amazing Whitney family with us. :)

amy - you are beautiful.

jeramy - this is gorgeous! fantastic!

Carmen - THANK YOU! LOVE the family photos - LOVE the songs, too!

Kristen Hardy - Just downloaded the songs.....L-O-V-E them!!!

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