Sorry that you’ll have to leave // Baraboo family photographer


I have known this family for a number of years, and what I most love about Kate is that she keeps it real. She’s the mom I can talk to about always being late to drop the kids off at school. The one I can commiserate with about the duration of Little League games, and the fact that our kids seem to expect us to make dinner every. single. night.

But Kate is a fun, funny, loving and authentic mom, and she knows that this time is her boys’ life is fleeting. And she wanted to stop, for just one Saturday morning, and let me in to capture it the way it really is.

Not all dressed up and posed sitting in a field on someone else’s prop furniture, but in their jammies, eating cereal on their couch, playing football in their yard.

I’ve been thinking a lot about vulnerability lately, and that’s what I love most about this session. This family was completely vulnerable to me: They let me really see them, practicing their instruments and breaking strings and not quite getting it right, snuggling and joking and being honest with each other and maybe a little messy and a little inappropriate.

Oh, and showing off their family wig collection. One of them said, “Let’s go get the wigs.” And the wigs were traded and adjusted and this is a thing they do, which only made me love them more.

Their trust in me gave me the chance to notice little things I otherwise couldn’t have: The way in one photo Kate and her younger son were mirroring each other’s smiles exactly, and they probably didn’t even know it. The pride on dad’s face as his 9-year-old plucked out the intro to “Smoke on the Water” on the acoustic guitar. The way each of the boys was each wearing a shirt with a younger version of themselves on it — shirts that used to be their parents’ — a sort of photo-within-a-photo reminder of time passing.

Kate and Tom are in a fantastic local rock band, Happy Ashtray. Music is a huge part of their lives, and they chose two of the band’s original songs as the soundtrack for their slideshow. The second song’s refrain goes, “I’ll be sorry that you had to leave.” It just made me think about how fleeting this time in your family life is.

These boys are more than halfway to college. One day soon they won’t sit on their parents’ laps and hold both of their hands at once. They won’t kiss the dog on the mouth. They won’t need their mom to drive them (late) to school, or dad to help them crack eggs and pick chords.

This time is going to pass. And then when it’s gone we’ll wonder where it went.

We want them to grow up. Of course we do.

But damn if we won’t be sorry when they have to leave.