Leah O'Connell

families, Featured sessions

Is it possible? Family photos in a dark, small home

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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Before this session, the mom and I chatted on the phone to iron out the details. We talked about letting the kids have input about their outfits, choosing things they already loved from their closets, and about her biggest concern – the light. She was worried about their crew of 6 doing family photos in a dark home.

But I wasn’t 😉

After talking through the specifics, I learned that their house is a temporary stop between a previous home and a home they’re in the process of building. It is a unique season in this space. Under 1200 square feet and nestled in the woods, the home was tiny and dark.

And with four young kids, it’s a tight squeeze.

But they have a big backyard and a counter where everyone migrates and they have a lot of fun making the best of it.

I assured her the home environment was no problem at all. Truly, I was giddy with excitement because this is my favorite scenario – when people think their environment is less than ideal for photos but I can show them how it is just perfect.

It’s in these situations where I can shine a light into those same dark corners and reveal the beautiful glimpses that come from a different perspective.

About half an hour before the session, mom texted me this.

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re ever thinking “is this weird?!” I”m probably going to be obsessed with it.

The ‘weird’ stuff only seems weird because we don’t generally see it often in the family photos people share online.

But that’s exactly what makes it so wonderful and why it needs to be photographed – these are the stories of family interaction that are largely hidden and where some of the most magical moments unfold because they are special.

Sure they can be for the greater good of breaking down stereotypes of family photography “shoulds” … but they can also be just for you.

Logistically, it’s also important to follow whatever light we have available when making family photos in a dark home, no matter where that takes us. If it’s possible to incorporate a natural activity in that space, it will feel way more natural.

family photo ideas in a bathroom

After I delivered the gallery, I got another text from the mom:

This is why we do this.

What it looks like to make family photos in a dark home

Enjoy some more favorites from this intimate and fun family session as example of what’s possible. You don’t need to have sprawling architecture and large rooms and huge windows to do a family session at home.

You can absolutely do family photos in a small, dark home and this session is proof that they can be every bit as magical.

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Would you like to work with me to make heartwarming family photo in your dark home (or any other home?!). I would be SO THRILLED to meet you and make images that speak to whatever season you’re in these days – whether it’s with teens, a large extended family, or a newborn babe.

Explore my session options here and reach out to get started.

You may also like:

One year old family photos at home | The Dunn Family

Summer newborn photos at home in Winchester with baby Wilder

Charlottesville outdoor family photos with baby

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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.