A Picture of Our Family

In the archives of posed family photos from my childhood, there are stories buried in 3 x 5 prints and the occasional Olan Mills 8 x 10 splurge. Stories range from “Dear God, why were my lips always chapped?” to “Turtlenecks Are Awesome” and “Argyle is the New Black.” But less obvious and more important, were the other stories buried in those photos–we were trying to hang on, sometimes for dear life, to what we knew was the greatest thing we had…family. I wonder how many of those photos were taken during the rough times–when, without a clue of what else to do, our parents curled our hair, coordinated some outfits, dragged us to Olan Mills and paid for a 5 x 7 that would be framed and put on their night stand so that they could look at it every morning and think “that’s it right there–that’s why I’ll stay and that’s why I’ll try harder.” That and they needed something to put next to our name in the Free Methodist Church directory. Our family didn’t end up staying together–rightly so–but I wonder if that break-up–the years leading up to it and the hard ones that followed–could have been softened if there wasn’t so much pressure to fulfill the image of what a family is supposed to look like.

For our own family now, it’s been over a year since we’ve had an organized family photo. It’s just harder to make it happen with grown kids and two different homes and busy schedules. But as a photographer and photo-lover, I believe in documentation and capturing love in all our different places in life. And there are some walls in our home that beg for big prints to remind us “This is it right here.” So the stars aligned last week and a quick photo shoot was organized.

For all the pretty pictures I share–that anyone shares–there are accompanying stories. It’s easy to believe that those stories are all glossy and perfect and cozy, but I know better than to assume that. In fact, part of what I love about following friends even with the most breathtaking photos where life seems nothing but light-filled scenes of dreams–is knowing that those moments are earned through unseen moments of really hard work. There are so many stories we don’t share–stories of humor and heartache and beauty and joy and messing up and fixing it and hoping and trying and love…lots of hard work.  That’s the real beauty of family.

So here we are. Our Family. A blended mix of pasts and presents, figuring out a little more each day how to make it. Sometimes it’s really hard. But we love each other and that means everything.

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And I may have tried to coordinate outfits for a somewhat cohesive look, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: life doesn’t follow your coordination plans.

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But bring your color anyways. Show up. Make it interesting. Tell a story. Love the ones who have been given to you.

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We’re not perfect, but we show up. And that’s all it takes for a perfect family photo.

I love these people.

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And my favorite photo in the whole bunch…

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Top that, Olan Mills.

Thank you to Heidi for capturing our family…and for always showing up.


Leave a Comment
  1. Love❤️

  2. Wonderful pictures! It looks like everyone’s having so much fun!

  3. Marsha Kern says:

    I love the picture! It is great!

  4. Love that you shared this. Your beautiful family…it’s what’s kept me coming back. Family & love & babies & crafts & decorating &…real life. I love your photos & your writing & your humor & your honesty. Thank you.

  5. Kelly, I just flipping LOVE you & your family! Thanks for sharing them with us!! XOXOXOX

  6. Loving all of you right now. Preach it! 💚👍💜

  7. I love these they just scream happy. I really need to get some photos done, since becoming a single mom 2.5 years ago I haven’t taken a proper photo with my son, since there’s no one around to take it. We have lots of selfies and I take his portraits regularly, but I need to step up and do it, even if it’s just with the tripod and timer!!

  8. Love!

  9. Need Nella’s outfit. Your family always looks adorable but that dress is in a league of its own!

  10. i haven’t been following here all along, only for a year or so, but today i figured out one reason i feel drawn to your blog… the Free Methodist Church! we most definitely have to have ended up with some of the same neuroses… um, i mean, character traits! from the church of our upbringing. also, i see grown kids and am super intrigued… my partner has 2 grown kids in their late 20s (one with his own two kids) and i have an 8 year old son so we have a hilariously staggered blended family that we love so much and almost never have in one place for a photo, either. <3

  11. Beautiful! I LOVE the kids red, blue and yellow outfits!!!

  12. How can you be the mom of the bunch, woman?! You look positively radiant and sooooo young and gorgeous. I love your energy :-)

  13. You were there for me during my divorce and now here for me as I am blending two young boys (8 and 4 stepchildren) and a girl (my 7 year old) together. Different parents, three homes, many emotions. Those times where I put my head in my hands and want to ask what the hell happened. I pull my shit together and ask “what would Kelle do” When I come to this place, my church your blog I always know that I’ll leave with a little more insight in how to ride the wave of life and let go of the image of what my family “was” supposed to look like. My fence right now is a lot of colors but hey isn’t that better than just the boring white…
    Love you girl
    Planning very hard to get to your retreat next year

  14. These pics are wonderful. Much preferred to super posed, all hairs in place, grimacing smiles. Love the candid and action shots. Inspiring!

  15. Fantastic :) This inspires me to get a new family photo ourselves :)

  16. Shelley Johs says:

    Kelle, your family pictures are “JUST PERFECT”.

  17. Carole arnold says:

    I love your site……..love you and your stories and pictures and optimism and wit………..AND THE RED SHOES~!!!

  18. Such great pictures! And I know it wasn’t the point, but your hair looks amazing. :)

  19. Happy and real and authentic is so much better than perfect. What a wonderful family! Thanks for letting us have a peek!

  20. Oh my Gosh Kelle this just hit me in the heart
    “We’re not perfect, but we show up.”

    That just evokes so many emotions and feels. Seriously sooooo good. Thank you for authentically blogging your life over the years. You honestly inspire me so much as a blogger, and as a soon to be mama to show up and live.

  21. good for you for knowing that it doesn’t to be perfect to still be great!! i wish more people thought like you

  22. Wow look how grown up they are! I’ve been reading your blog since Nella was born – what a sweet family! <3

  23. This serves to remind me that we need a family photo desperately. Beautiful family. Beautiful life. :)

  24. Love, love, love all the pictures full of smiles.

  25. LOVE!!! Love the one of you and Brett. <3

  26. Great photos!

  27. I have read your book, and passed it around the family. Also, my name has been in that directory several times through out the years!!!

  28. Your floral writing always seems to pull me in and I am always better for having ready your blog posts. You see the world in a way that so few even notice and I love that you bring these small beauties to light. I wish I could write even a tenth of the depth conveyed in your words!

  29. SO love this!!!!

  30. Thank you for this post, we have a blended family as well and I know all too well the good days and bad days, the things we want to share and the things we don’t. I think this might be my favorite post!

  31. So true there’s a story behind every picture. Beautiful pics btw

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