Leah O'Connell

families, for photographers

Big Feelings, Little Houses Project

I'm Leah!

I’m obsessed with stories of family, creativity, and simple joys.  A nostalgia nerd, educator, wife, and mom of 3, I believe life’s most fun when you’re dreaming big and having kitchen dance parties. 

Education and articles for family photographers

TOp categories

FAQ's and guidance for stress-free family and newborn sessions 

Essays, letters, favorites

Highlighted family and newborn photography sessions

Behind the project

The Big Feelings Little Houses project is an ongoing experiment celebrating the big personality that unfolds in the nooks and crannies of home.

It was born out of a desire to bring a new angle to representing artistic family photography in media through more diverse environments than only those that are ultra-styled and aesthetically “elite.”

lifestyle family photo poses on master bed

I encourage other family photographers across the world to use the #bigfeelingslittlehouses hashtag when sharing their lifestyle in-home family work to honor a wider spectrum of what family photography can look like beyond, airy or elite visuals. I want to open the window of opportunity for this medium to feel accessible for more families as a means of holding contentment and gratitude, celebrating our people and our places just how they are.

playful family photos at home
big feelings little houses project example by charlottesville photographer
poses for lifestyle family photos at home
tips for photographing in-home lifestyle family photos

Why Big feelings, little houses?

Bold and creative living starts inside. It ripples through our hearts and into our homes, soaked in by tiny eyes and built into waves, washing the world with its color.

I want to live a creative and inspired life because I know that a good and gracious God created me to worship him through the goodness of HIS ultimate creation – his beloved.

When we choose to live into beauty while equally surrounded by darkness, we are rebels.

It is actively pushing back on fear, on crushing relationships, on greed, jealousy, hate and anger. It is purposefully choosing joy.

Not every day all day.

But somewhere behind the mountains of laundry there is a beam of golden light through the window.

Woven into caves of never-ending bedtimes and the hug that greets you when you walk in the door. 

lifestyle family photos at home by charlottesville photographer
examples from the big feelings little houses project by charlottesville photographer

I’m convinced that the glory is in the middle, in the imperfect dripping of creek-drenched toes and tiny fingerprints on open windows.

It’s in ruffled hair and that time he said “I see you.”

The clarity in a cloudless sky or her bouncing curls.

We cling to these glimpses with the hope of who we are deep down.

And by making art of those feelings, we’re not pretending life is more beautiful than it is, but shining light on the glimpses.

The goodness that’s always there but so often hidden.

An act of resistance to live big in the small.

An acknowledgment that the sparkles of life take place in doorways and worn-in couches, barefoot on checkered tile floors and on kitchen counters. Whether they are modern, styled, or even clean is irrelevant.

Contemporary marble and modern art are not requirements.

Home is the container for an outpouring of hearts and it can be seen, held, and tasted no matter what it looks like.

backyard family photos

Tag your images on Instagram with #bigfeelingslittlehouses to be featured and spread the love of in-home family photography

You might also like:

This behind-the-scenes reel on the #bigfeelingslittlehouses project

How to photograph families in any home

When you’re wondering if it matters

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Hi, I'm Leah.
Family photographer, writer, educator.

I’m  one of the first to meet your newborn baby, the one who won't judge your clothes baskets and unmade beds, and the one who can capture the way your husband looks at you with a twinkle in his eye after 12 years of marriage. I believe in honoring people and telling stories.

I believe art has the power to light up the world in dark places, starting at home.