I first photographed the Boarman family in 2010, when Charlie was just a little guy and an only child. I was (nearly) brand new to photography as a side gig at the time, so I was beyond appreciative of every person who was even willing to hire me in the first place. Ann and Ryan soon became a few of my “regulars”, and I photographed their family year after year for some time. I remember Ryan telling me he couldn’t imagine having a second child because he thought Charlie was so great, and then eventually they had JP, and I photographed him as a newborn and then as a toddler, and Ryan went on to say the same thing about the idea of having a third. When I made the decision to move to Chicago and stop booking traditional family sessions, one of the things I knew I’d miss most was families like the Boarmans – I loved seeing their boys grow and change each year, and the moments like when Charlie got out of their vehicle for one of their sessions years ago and coyly said to me, “hey, I remember you..” in reference to our session the year before will forever feel precious to me.
I hadn’t photographed the Boarman family in a few years when they announced this past year that they were expecting child number three in March, so I was thrilled when I received an email from Ann that they were interested in booking a lifestyle session with me once the baby arrived. They welcomed their baby girl, Hattie, a few weeks before our session, thus becoming a family of five.
I was greeted by their pups upon arrival, and I couldn’t wait to see how big the boys had gotten. Charlie, the once chatty little boy I had photographed years ago had recently turned ten, and he greeted me with a cool, quiet “hey” as he peered inside the refrigerator. JP and I followed Ann into Hattie’s nursery and he first quietly peered over his mom’s shoulder, disappearing briefly soon after and coming back in with a piece of garlic bread in his hand and a fresh butter stain on his shirt. His mom, noticing it immediately, asked him if he’d be holding his piece of garlic bread up against his shirt (and of course, he had); she simultaneously laughed and shrugged as she suggested he go change his shirt, and I grinned to myself because this is what life looks like, after all.
The boys both joined us in the nursery, each wanting their turn holding their new baby sister. Once they would pass her off to someone new, it’d quickly turn to wrestling or tickling or farts followed by uproarious laughter. I recently spent Easter Sunday watching old home videos with my parents of my brothers and I as children, and I was reminded of the level of wonderful madness that comes with having three kids, no matter the year or generation. When I was young, I watched these videos and reminisced of the memories I had experienced as a child; now, I watch how my parents reacted to the antics, and laugh at the things they said to one another, and the way they videotaped the moment when all three of us children were crying in different rooms because sometimes all you can do is laugh at the whirlwind that life with three kids at home can be. Ann and Ryan laughed and rolled their eyes and disciplined and shrugged and laughed some more throughout the course of their sesh with me, and I realized this is exactly what it looks and feels like to be in the midst of it. In the old videos I watched with my parents, there were times when us kids were whining and crying and pouting and being generally rambunctious, and I said to my mom, “oh my gosh, it just seems like everything was absolutely nuts”, and my mom continued to smile and laugh at the screen as she said, “oh no, Brooke – those years were the best”.