Leah O'Connell

families, Featured sessions

Charlottesville outdoor family photos with baby

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

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

Essays, letters, favorites

Highlighted family and newborn photography sessions

It seems like so many of the things people frame as “avoid at all cost” scenarios in photography – the things that you’re supposed to try to work around or prep against – are the exact things I find most inspiring. 

A dark lit nursery. 

A cloudy day.


Full sun. 

A home with no furniture.

Wild kids. 

Each scenario lends itself to the unexpected, and the most interesting photographs are possible when there’s an element of the unexpected. 

You can plan and prepare and style your heart out, but then there’s mother nature.

Then there’s the baby’s spit-up.

Then there’s snow in the forecast.

Then it’s not perfect.

But oh, is that not the whole point!?

close up pose of mom with 6 month old baby in outdoor family photo session

The whole beauty in family photography to me is the opportunity to see your life as a canvas, to celebrate the unusual, the chaotic, the dreary, the vibrance, every angle and with a little messiness.

Of course you want to capture the growth and the memories. But that is so accessible on a daily basis.

What’s not as readily available is the ability to see yourself being held and loved.

The blur of vibrant connection between people. The roots of family. A painting of movement and closeness and abundance in spite of any scenario. The honoring of people who are beautifully unique and folded together regardless of sun, rain, wind, or storm. Regardless of attitudes or wardrobe.

Uncommon elements only support the idea that you are you, together, no matter what.

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Behind the scenes

This outdoor family session with a sweet little 6 month old baby took place on a cold December day. It was about 35 degrees and the sky was completely covered with clouds. We kept little guy bundled and close to mom and dad to stay warm and feel safe, moving a lot and working quickly to beat both the cold and quickly approaching sunset from overcast conditions.

Perfect weather is not a prerequisite for meaningful, heartwarming photos of family – any age, any conditions… you are the art.

If you want to experience what that feels like, read more about the Firefly session experience here and let’s connect.

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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.