ashley, mike, and henry | at home session | chicago, il.

I first met and photographed Ashley and Mike when they got married in 2017 – they were the quintessential picture of ease and laid backness and fun, and their wedding day felt like a reflection of that. In the years since, I feel fortunate to say they’ve started to feel like old friends to me. They’ve kindly referred many of their own friends to me and my business, so I typically (and excitedly) get to see them once or twice a year as they fill seats as guests at some of the weddings I’ve photographed.

So when I found out they had a baby on the way, I was beyond excited for them. Baby Henry arrived around the same time as the start of the pandemic, so they weren’t able to do an immediate “newborn” session. As spring 2020 drew on, we started to discuss how we could safely do an indoor session to document this stage of Henry’s life later that summer, and got something penciled in for July.

As we all know, the early months of the pandemic were particularly surreal. Though now we all feel a bit more like seasoned vets at this whole thing, those first months we were learning as we went and continually trying to adapt to the new understanding of how being around people safely could and should operate. Many of us were staying home and weren’t seeing others, which for Ashley and Mike, meant that many of their friends and extended family members had yet to meet their baby boy. We talked through specifics on how I could safely photograph them in their apartment, and then I got to be one of the few people outside of the two of them who spent time with Henry during those months.

I continually hope and try to not take the honor of any of this lightly – to photograph people throughout the stages of their life is a damn gift, and most days I still can’t believe this is a thing I get the opportunity to do in “normal” times, let alone in a time like the one we’ve been in this past year. So I spent the afternoon with these two new parents, as Mike had created a makeshift office on their kitchen table, and they were both navigating parenthood and life during a pandemic, and they joked about their lack of haircuts and interaction with other adults. There were photos from their wedding day around the apartment – they pointed out the one of them with their wedding party, surrounded by their friends, and I thought about how much they likely missed all of them. And I looked at the two of them on the couch with Henry, also playing with their dog and laughing about each of them, and I loved seeing that they were still those same people who had gotten married a few years earlier – laid back and fun and joking around together – and thinking about how perfectly parenthood would suit them because of this, pandemic and all.

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