Leah O'Connell

families, Featured sessions

Featured: A House for Christmas / a documentary holiday session

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. 

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The Backstory

They bought a house when they were newly married, excited for the opportunity it held and the family that would fill it. 5 kids later, they were ready for an upgrade, but the house wouldn’t sell.

For 2 years.

Finally, the right person and the right timing fell into place and they sold their first home – but were still searching for their forever. And for the past 6 months, they have been living with her parents, praying diligently for the right home to open up, and waiting with faith that God would provide. 

They had specific requests from their kiddos:

 “dear God, please let the house have evergreen trees,”


“dear God, please let our new house have a pool!”

They saw dozens of homes, but none were the right fit, in the right area, the right schools, with the right price, to fit their needs.  Then, just before the holidays, it clicked.

They kept the process secret from the kids to be sure all the dotted lines were signed before sharing the news. And they’d waited so long, that news deserved a big reveal. 

Welcome to your new home

As the grandparents picked up the older kids from their last day of school and stalled with the little crew, mom and dad signed the papers, picked me up, and we all headed over to the new house with keys in hand. We did the fastest Christmas decorating job likely ever recorded — when there was no stand for the Christmas tree, we grabbed an old empty pot of dirt and made it work! We hid poppers and boxes with little gifts like cookies or small toys throughout each room of the house and around the gorgeous yard for the kids to explore and discover. They put presents under the tree for an early Christmas surprise. They threw some cookies in the oven that filled the house with warmth, and spread out some festive cups and plates in the kitchen.

In under an hour, it was starting to feel like home. 

When the kids pulled up with their grandparents and saw their parents in the driveway, they were obviously confused.

But the news that they finally had their new home… that was the best Christmas present ever. 

This couple happens to be my brother and sister-in-law, so to have a front row seat to their answered prayers unfolding, then to capture this day – it was such a blessing and easily of my favorite sessions to date.

As adults, we just know that there are some moments, some days, some conversations that shape a child forever. This was one of those days for these 5 kids, and for two incredibly loving and faithful parents, too. 

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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.