Family photos can be tough to find time for. We have busy lives, and the expense isn't always easy to justify. We worry about our weight, our wrinkles, our clothes. Those photos are an easy thing to put off, year after year. Our kids get older. Our weight goes up, then down, then up again. Our wrinkles get deeper. 

I often tell my photography clients that right now is what you have. Those moments and precious times are worth capturing. They may feel mundane or not as exciting as another family's lifestyle. But your story is worth telling. Your story is proof that you lived, laughed, loved. No one who looks at your pictures fifty years from now is going to be criticizing your muffin-top, your daughter's eyeliner, or your son's cowlick. They're going to see how much you were loved.

I have known Jill for quite a few years. She messaged me a few weeks ago, and told me that it had been awhile since she and her family had gotten portraits made. Her brother Mike was going to be in town for Christmas, and she asked if I would be available the weekend after the holiday. I was, so I drove out to the Clear Creek area to photograph her family the following Sunday.

 The Slack family has a love you can see and feel.

Jill's mother Mary is a feisty spitfire of a lady, with an unstoppable spirit. She tells things the way they are. There's a twinkle in her eye. You can see the pride she has in her children, her grandson Matthew, and his girlfriend of three years - Alexa. We shared lots of memorable moments during our shoot.  

 Mary has also had two fantastic love stories.

Don - Mary's husband of 51 years, her sweetheart since high school and the father of her children - was a career educator and one of the founding instructors of OTC.  In 2006 he was hospitalized, and the Slack family was faced with saying goodbye long before they were ready. Avery, a longtime friend and classmate, came to visit Don in the hospital and check in with his family. After Don passed, Avery and his girlfriend would sometimes take Mary out for dinner, and he would check up on her occasionally as any gentleman would.

Three years later, out of the blue, Avery called Mary one afternoon and said, "Hey, you wanna go to Oklahoma and get married?"

Mary's response?

"I don't think so."

Obviously the other girlfriend had been a passing fancy. Avery hadn't been able to get Mary off his mind.

Mary did agree to a first date at Downstream Casino, and it must have gone well. They have spent the past five years rambling through the countryside on his Harley and in the two classic Chevys he has lovingly restored. He and Mary have had lots of adventures, with many more to come. I love the way they look at each other. It's pure happiness.

Spending moments with families like the Slacks is gratifying in a way that I can't describe with words. In fifty or a hundred years, no one will remember that I was the one who photographed their family. It doesn't matter. They will look at these pictures, and they will say:

"This is what real love looks like."

Thank you Mary, Avery, Jill, Matthew, Mike, and Alexa for sharing an afternoon in late December with me. Together we did something pretty amazing -  the thing I love most about photography. We froze time.