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The amazing Smith family!

Sometimes you fall into people. You didn’t know you needed them, didn’t really know them, didn’t ask for them. Yet you turn around, and they are there. We needed a babysitter. We had run out of options. Someone recommended Meleah. I had no idea that after that wedding day ended, and the next, and the next… that suddenly, what had been a business arrangement had become something different. Sometimes I think Meleah might be a better mom than I am :) She’s AMAZING with my kids. And she and her mom and dad (Wayne and Jewel) have provided support for us in many different ways over the last 2 years. They’ve kept our kids for long stretches of time when Nathan and I have needed to travel together, and they’ve shown up for just 30 minutes when we needed help out of a scheduling snafu. They’ve picked Austen up from school, taken the kids to church, played countless games, and cooked many dinners… They’ve saved our lives.

The least I could do in return was document an afternoon in their family’s lives as a thank you.

So last week, that’s what I did. I headed over to the Smith house, and spent the afternoon with them. It’s so rare to see a family with kids who are “all grown up” that still actively spends time together on a regular basis. When I first started talking to Meleah about the shoot, I wasn’t exactly sure what we would do. Most families this age don’t actually DO things together… everyone is generally busy with their own stuff. But not this family. It was really exciting to hear them talk about their lives… and the crazy antics that they fill it up with.

I’m going to go ahead and warn you all that the upcoming post may be one of the silliest ones you’ll ever see on here :) In the 2 hours I spent in the Smith household, I was reminded of the importance of laughter. There was laughter happening constantly!

Zach is a wonderful musician… I had heard him previously when I photographed Calvary’s youth group, and was impressed… but this acoustic, quiet sound was very moving. I really loved it.

Love feet…

After the mini-concert, Zach and Wayne played a little one-on-one. It was pretty intense ;)

And Meleah and Shelby hung out in the hallway for a girly heart-to-heart. I believe they were discussing someone named “Eggwardo”.

I loved the light in their front room! It was so fun to photograph them playing games from the second floor. Love this!

They played a scrabble game and princess go fish. This is a VERY competitive family! I noticed that there was one person in particular who seemed to take issue with losing, but at least they all had fun!

Then everyone decided to pile onto the couch together… Jewel claims that they are a “perfect fit” but I’m not so sure :)

Meleah and Zach did a few musical numbers for us. It was not the most amazing music I have ever heard, but is it by far the funniest Sound of Music/Celine Dion performances I’ve ever experienced.

We headed outside to play a bit of ping-pong… and Wayne disappeared for a second. When he returned, he had transformed just slightly… It’s amazing the difference a simple mullet wig can make in someone :)

They played ping-pong “round robin” style. I’ve never seen anything quite so exhausting. It was utter madness, but it seems they were having a blast!

We finished the session off with a serious session between father and son. The girls were wonderful cheerleaders in the background, and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves… particularly since Wayne won. I’m thinking they might still be there, playing right now, if he hadn’t won :)

And finally… the most ridiculous self-portrait in the history of self portraits :)

Smith family, I hope you guys enjoy your crazyfun slideshow… thanks so much for giving me a glimpse into your real lives. It was beautiful!


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  • March 22, 2010 - 7:39 pm

    Meleah - Thank you so much Amber!! Thank you for sharing your beautiful gift of capturing the essence of others through your photography! And thank you most of all for sharing your family with mine!!! We love you guys!!

  • March 23, 2010 - 10:14 pm

    jewel - Amber, what a special gift you and your family are to us! Thank you for sharing your life, your children and you skills with us – we are the ones who are blessed! Now I can finally fill the photo screen Meleah made for me 3 years ago!

  • April 15, 2010 - 11:45 am

    Danny - Amber,

    Your photos are awesome! Do you shoot in B&W or in color then post-process? What settings do you use to get that high contrast look without blowing out the highlights?

    By the way, my wife, Cindy Wright(formerly Withrow) is friends with Jason’s wife, Teresa. We met you guys at their wedding in Indiana. Cindy was the only bridesmaid not related to the bride.

    Teresa sent us a link to the photos from Bree’s 1st birthday. They were amazing. I loved the different angles and I’ve always preferred the candids and “staged” candids over plain old posed photos. To me they show people’s character and make for better memories. Keep up the good work!

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