The full belly laughs from being tickled, running playfully through a field while barefoot, and the look a little one gives his mom after she whispers in his ear how much she loves him are just a few of the reasons why I love photographing families. And while I have photographed A LOT of families over the last 10 years, every now and again, I get a request for a family session that takes a different direction and has a deep meaning to the family behind my lens.
Earlier this year, I was asked to do a session like this by the Kerr family. The first time I photographed this family (see images below) was about five years ago, and we had so much fun creating memories between everyone. I remember Maddie looking like Beyonce as her hair drifted softly out with the wind, and the laughs between Camissa and John as I had them snuggle close together. Elijah was being silly and laughed at everything (which made the BEST photos!) and Bailey and William were lovingly giving each other a hard time between it all :) It was a good evening.
But this year was different, because we were missing one. In December of 2020, right before Christmas, William, only 17 at the time, passed away suddenly. To say it rocked everyone’s world is an understatement and something that this family will grieve for the rest of their lives.
So when Camissa reached out to me about doing family portraits again this summer, I knew it came with several layers of making it all come together.
It was important to honor William and somehow incorporate him into the images, but it was something they wanted to do subtly and in a way that had meaning to them.
One of William’s pastimes was carpentry and building tables for people. One table that he sold, and was actually gifted back to the family after his death, is one of the pieces that bring the family comfort in his absence. After discussing different options, Camissa definitely wanted to incorporate this table and also include a few other items that meant something to her son as a way of making him part of the images.
But I also knew this session would be a sensitive one on an emotional level, especially as they experienced “firsts” without William. I was prepared for just about anything and knew we would take things at their own pace; but what was beautiful to see was them laughing together, remembering their brother and son, and honestly just taking it one moment at a time.
The final result of putting everything together was better than I imagined it could be. I can honestly say I’ve never worked a table into a family portrait before, especially in a way where it stands for someone who’s no longer with us, but it was perfect. For me, it was as if part of William was with us throughout the morning. Seeing him displayed in so many ways and truly living on through each of them was a gift to witness.
As painful as it is to not have William here on Earth, and I know there are times of extreme sadness for this family, I am in complete awe of how strong each member of this family is. Their faith and dedication to Christ is apparent in everything they do, and that has been the foundation they’ve leaned on throughout this extremely difficult time.
To the Kerr family: Thank you all for inviting me in to capture these memories for you. I know you all understand, probably better than most, the complete and priceless value of having images of your family members captured so you can have these memories live on forever. I pray God gives you peace and helps you through every season you’ll go through with grief and continuing on through life. I’m honored to be a part of your story to help you capture memories of your loved ones. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Kate Cherry Photography, LLC has been capturing memories for families and business owners for over 10 years. Based out of Lexington, SC, Kate is a family & branding photographer whose goal is to create branding content that speaks to potential clients and to capture memories for families that last for generations to come. You can learn more here or contact me today to share your story! Want to follow me on social media? Check out my Facebook and Instagram pages.