I first met this family in 2008, and fell in love with their friendly nature and joyful connection. In 2010, one week before our second session was scheduled to take place, I received an email from a family member letting me know that their son Max had passed away in an unexpected accident, and they wouldn’t be able to carry out the session.

My heart shattered for them. It was unbelievable, I couldn’t imagine how it could be true. But it was. Over the next few years, I thought of Max and the rest of them all the time, sending them my love through the universe.

Leanne reached out to me last year, and I was thrilled to hear from her again. Also to find out that they had moved to San Luis Obispo with many of their extended family to start a farm. She told me that one day she had googled “the happiest city in america”, up came SLO, and they decided to move there on a whim. They had also added to their family by two – with twin boys!

We planned the session and it was absolutely amazing to see them again. Max was there, he was all around them. It was an important thing for me to capture, and I wanted to honor him. Sharing this story and these images is simply a continuation of that. Their home was beautiful and where they lived was beautiful, but what I found most compellingly beautiful was how they have overcome and chosen to live their lives, after losing their child, their brother.

I told Leanne that I was going to blog the images from their session, and asked if there was anything she would like to share. This is what she sent:

‘When I gave birth to Max, I gave birth to the heart of our family. He was wise beyond his years and carried with him an endless supply of love, love that he shared freely and abundantly. He still is the heart of our family. The way he lived and the way he loved grounds us and brings us all closer together. Life is fragile, life is hard, and life is beautiful.’  – Leanne



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  1. i read all of your words, and my heart was breaking. then i read leanne’s words and i sobbed, that is exactly how i feel about my payton. i can’t imagine life without him, and i found myself putting myself in their shoes. God Bless them. they are courageous, and inspiring. so are your images. incredible as always!

  2. This might be my favorite post ever. The images are simply gorgeous and you can just feel the beautiful spirit of the family leap off the screen. Thank you for sharing

  3. When I got to the bottom and read about Max, I thought, “Well, of course he was there– I saw him in the pictures!” I had to go back and scroll through all of the pictures and was actually surprised NOT to see him. I felt his presence loud and clear–kind of crazy! I have never had anything like that happen before! What a sweet family and it looks like the farm is doing them good. Beautiful pictures and a session to be treasured forever!

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