Leah O'Connell

families, Featured sessions

Featured: Home for the Holidays with the Pagels family

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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Between these three family units, the patriarchs + two daughters and their families, each one has moved into a different home or state in the past year. Both sisters had babies within a few weeks of each other, they lost a family dog, both husbands started new jobs, grandparents entered retirement, and the oldest grandchild is hitting toddler life full steam ahead.

So Christmas looked really different this year than it did last year.

You may recognize Elizabeth from her documentary maternity session published last summer when she was pregnant with their little girl. They are dear friends and it was such a joy to see them enjoying their new home as a family of four at Christmas for the first time, alongside the rest of her extended family.


Behind the scenes

There was a dusting of snow on the ground the morning of our shoot, just a few days after Christmas, so we ventured out in their yard for a few portraits to start and then carried on with the morning as usual. The moms fed the little babies while grandma kept C entertained with trail mix and jokes, the husbands gathered in the corner, hiding their beer cans and making goofy faces at the kids. Then it was just afternoon hanging out – they built a big fire, one of C’s favorite things to do with dad, and played with Christmas toys. Just a normal day.

Because when you have 3 generations, 9 people, and 2 dogs, normal is never really normal.

It’s usually loud. There’s a lot of laughter and stories being shared. There’s toys and blankets and overflowing coats and always something to eat or drink.

It’s home.









Elizabeth asked about doing this session way back in July after her mom told her that she only wanted pictures for Christmas from here on out.

As their family grows and each year is different, I can’t think of a more valuable gift. 

Interested in an extended family session at home? Reach out to share more about your crew and we’ll make a plan that’s zero stress and all memories. 

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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.