Today is my sweet sister's 34th birthday. Besides being super-sweet (she was dubbed "the sweet one" while I was "the ornery one" growing up), she's an amazing wife and mother, super-smart, good at everything she sets her mind to, and has the best luck when playing games. I rarely beat her and it's maddening.

Natalie is the mother of my two nephews -- Noah (12) and Elijah (10) -- who both have autism. When she was pregnant with Elijah -- before they knew Noah had autism -- there was a point in time where they though Elijah might have Down Syndrome. I remember thinking at that time that out of all the couples in the world, my sister and brother-in-law would be the most loving and sacrificial parents to special needs children. And they are. Those boys are so loved.

I started my business nearly 10 years ago, and shortly before that, I pulled out my camera, dusted it off, and started practicing on them. And I haven't stopped. I've documented holidays, major events, school days, trips and portrait shoots for the past 10 years; sometimes showing up at their house with camera in hand to photograph whatever they're doing at that moment in time.

I've had a goal on my list for some time now to create a photo book of my nephews for my sis. And today I'm finally checking it off!

A few weeks ago I carved some time out of my schedule and culled through the gazillions of photos from 10 years in the life of this family. I designed a 13x11 book that I had printed through Blurb. I spent about a day and a half designing it using my Simple and Classic Horizontal Templates for Photojunction and ended up including 398 photos in 102 spreads. Yikes! Biggest album ever, I know. But it covered 10 YEARS OF CUTENESS so it had to be large.
It was quite the exercise to go through my photos from years ago. It made me fall in love with my family even more and also reminded me of how much my photography has improved. It was slightly painful to include some of my early photos, but I pushed through because it's more about the memories than the quality of the photos, right!? :)
We celebrated my sister's birthday a little early as a family and I stopped by her house before dinner to surprise her, Josh and Noah with the book (Elijah was playing blissfully outside in the mud).
Noah saw many photos of himself that he hadn't previously seen. It was cute -- he got all quiet and embarrassed.
They sat there for about 30 minutes looking through the pages of their new family album and commenting on different memories the photos elicited.
What a gratifying project to accomplish. I feel so blessed.

Happy birthday sis! Love you SO much! Can't wait to capture the next 10 years!!


Equipment used for above photos: Canon 5D Mark III // Canon 50mm 1.2 lens
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