I’m going to share with you some of my favorite images from the course of 2018. I am so unbelievably thankful thankful thankful to all the people who trusted me to document their lives this year. I know these moments are precious, I feel it in my bones, and I never take that responsibility lightly. I witnessed the very first day of many families, the additions of new life into the world and homes. I captured the momentous and also quite a bit of the everyday. With my camera I documented stories of love, hope, growth, waiting, beauty and joy. So much joy. What a beautiful year spent photographing some of the most beautiful souls. Thank you all.

It started off with Jessica + Ryan’s Hall of State wedding

Included a whole lot of families photographed in their homes (my favorite place to photograph families)

Shai + Brent made Dallas look real good for their engagement session.

My first ever round of mini sessions at The Lumen Room were so much fun that I planned a second round of mini’s just five months later. Here are some from the first round:

More state park weddings in 2019, please. I so enjoyed Adi + Julian’s relaxed and intimate Huntsville state park wedding.

I got the honor and privilege of photographing several previous brides’ and grooms’ welcoming new babies into their families!

I documented Jacob + Liz in their first home before they jumped into a brand new adventure together.

In April I flew to South Carolina for Emmaline + Nikita’s engagement session on Duke University campus.

Aanchal + Nick had two full days of wedding celebration complete with mariachi + barat!

Esther + Trevor’s SMU Perkins Chapel + Filter Building wedding day was a dream dream dream.

I so enjoyed shooting at The Darkroom studio for the first time for Taylor’s bridal portraits.

I don’t always get to do birth photography with my wedding schedule but it just so worked out for me to be at little Ella’s birth and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Taylor + Johnny’s Brik wedding with Cloud Creative Events + Everly Alaine Florals was dreamy as all get out.

Annnnnd then came the second round of mini sessions at The Lumen Room (shot while I was 32 weeks pregnant).

Emmaline + Nikita’s wedding was my first Russian Orthodox wedding ceremony to photography, which was so fun. I so enjoyed their portraits + reception at Hotel Crescent Court.

Jessica + Kolby’s Cliff House morning wedding was such an absolute delight.

And I wrapped up 2018 with Katie + Kyle’s Oklahoma wedding at Southwind Hills.

If you’re still reading, GOOD JOB! It’s a longgggg post, a whole year’s worth, in fact!

 To end, I could think of no better way to further illustrate how much I value documentation and preserving memories than by showing that I do the same for my family. This year we were so blessed by the addition of baby boy Jones Cedar to our family. Here are a few of my favorite images I’ve captured in my own home over the past couple months since his arrival.

Hannah + Jonathan will always have a most special place in my heart. I’ve known Hannah since college and have always been both impressed, as well as personally blessed, by how fierce an encourager she is. I met Jonathan when I had the joy and privilege of documenting + witnessing their proposal, their engagement as well as their wedding. Because of the season of life I was in during the majority of that timeframe (they got engaged when my daughter Juniper was very much a NEWborn + I have a distinct, sweet memory of having to wake my sleeping squishy baby to kiss her goodbye before I left the morning of Hannah + Jonathan’s wedding) I sadly didn’t get most of those images up on my blog. That first year of my daughter’s life was such a (happy) blur and I was doing my best to balance work + life in this starkly different season of life that I had to learn from scratch how in the world to navigate (MEANING like a grand total of four things got blogged that year hahahah). But oh, what joyful memories Hannah + Jonathan’s proposal, engagement, wedding are for me though. I’ll never, ever, ever, ever be able to wrap my mind around the blessing of being entrusted with capturing those for them. So when Jonathan reached out recently about surprising Hannah with a session just because around some of the same spots we hit up at their engagement session two years before (SWEET HUSBAND POINTS, AMMIRIGHT?) I was immediately on board. Here are a few of my favorites from that session around Denton.

I’ve also had the distinct pleasure of seeing Hannah start her own wedding photography business and just BLOSSOM in that. I am so proud, just as a friend, watching her excel and thrive. You can view her work here.

 

As I was putting together this post of Allison + Johnny’s cloudy walk through Brooklyn, right up to the water’s edge, I haven’t been able to get the chorus of the Avett Brother’s “I and love and you” out of my head.

“Brooklyn Brooklyn take me in.”

Although these two have no trouble saying I and Love and You — as you’ll be able to tell from these photos.

Not going to lie, I probably edited every single one of these photos abouuuuut seven times. I kept going back and forth between trying to make the photos appear sunnier than it was but then I would hate it because then the photos didn’t feel like that nighttime, cloudy walk through the city felt. So, as you’ll see, I’ve finally embraced the grey that cloudy sky dealt. This session shows one of my absolute favorite ways to take portraits, just exploring with a couple — a general destination in mind but with the photos less about a performance as much as focusing on genuinely enjoying our time, the company, the evening and, in this case, the city.

Goodness gracious I’m obsessed with shooting in cities. I love the natural energy, excitement and exploration that comes with being in New York City. There’s so much story there, hence why I can never get enough and am always looking for an excuse to go back.

And in case you made it to the end of the post and are scratching your head like, “Wait, didn’t I JUST see these people on your blog, Jillian?” The answer is yes and yes. The reason is that they are wonderful and I’m obsessed with them. Which brings me to the second song this post reminds me of, a Whitney Houston classic:

“AND IIIIIIIIII-EE-IIIIII, WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUUUUUUUUUUU-OOOOO-OOOO-OOOO”

That song goes out to Allison, Johnny and NYC — xoxo, Jillian

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When you go into the kids’ room in the morning before the sun is all the way up and brother has climbed into baby sister’s crib.

When cooking waffles as a family means wiping batter off of quicker-than-you-remembered baby hands and was that egg in Beckham’s hair?? How did that even get there . . . ?

Grabbing a dry waffle in your hand so that you can set up paints for your two-year-old to keep him busy. When mom and dad tag team eating because you can’t both really sit down at the same time for very long with two kids this little.

When a bath is required after breakfast because there is food all over just about every inch of that babe’s body.

When daddy makes sure to kiss everyone goodbye before leaving for work.

When you’re finishing your now cold coffee after laying your baby down for a morning nap. When you pull your firstborn into your lap for his first one-on-one momma time for the the day.

It certainly isn’t the easiest or most glamorous of life seasons. But DANGIT if there isn’t so much sweetness in it that it hurts sometime? This is what I’m passionate about capturing. Real family moments. Because as cute as those posed photos of everyone smiling at the camera are (and I mean that, they can be so cute!), what do they actually tell you about that particular season of life in your family? In the short (and yet long?? and absolutely wonderful and yet completely imperfect??) nine months that I’ve been a mom, I’ve been finding myself thinking “Oh, I wish I had a photo from all of us snuggling in bed together early in the morning” because that time is so, so sweet to me. Or “I wish I had a photo of how giggly Juni gets on her changing table when she’s sleepy but still happy before bedtime.” These are the things I’ve found myself wishing I could have documented. So when I think of cute baby bed head and a family trip to the donut store or those towel-wrapped cuddles after bathtime and yeah, even those moments right after time-out when you’re having to lovingly explain why it’s not okay to hit — it’s in all of that that I see a lot of real and sweet moments just waiting to be chronicled.

Keep in mind I’m not proposing this naively. As I write this post as my 9-month-old plays with books she’s ripped the pages out of and climbs over empty print boxes and packaging materials she’s scattered on my office floor. My husband had to get up out of bed to rock her back to sleep three times the night before last. I have a constant underlying fear that she’s going to eat a bobby pin off the floor that’s fallen out of my hair. One day that won’t be what life looks like anymore. And that’s well and good but I don’t want to forget a bit of it.

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When I first pitched Darby the idea of coming to their home before the kids were even awake and documenting a morning in their home without posing or “okay now everyone smile here!” she said:

“I have a small anxiety attack when I think about actually being vulnerable enough to let someone take photos of my home and what an actual morning looks like (which is basically uncoordinated chaos with the babies). I don’t think of us having a lovely, picturesque morning routine. Mostly we look horrible in our mismatched pajamas and the whole house is in shambles. Confessedly, I’m not particularly proud of my home decorating / housekeeping skills as well.  Usually we are tag teaming children and don’t even get to spend time together in the mornings”
I told her that her house was definitely allowed to be more picked up than any given Wednesday and that I’d love for her and Wes to think about their families most favorite type of morning vs a daily-grind-just-gotta-get-out-the-door type of morning. So making waffles together (a Saturday morning favorite activity) it was. I admire Darby and Wes and the way they raise their family, serve each other, love each other and their kids. I admire how go-with-the-flow, honest and open they are. And I just want to say on the Internet that I truly believe y’all are some of the best parents around, scout’s honor. Thank you for inviting me into your home and letting me document a piece of your family life right now.
So there it is. This is how I want to document families now. It doesn’t always have to be a morning routine — it can be an outing to your favorite park, or bedtime routines, a family trip to the Grand Canyon, sky’s the limit as long as it’s an activity in the life of your family that you treasure. It’s not a show. It’s not bribe-your-kids-grit-your-teeth-JUST-ONE-MORE-SMILE-AT-THE-CAMERA-PLEASE. It’s just living your life with the ones you love most and OH HEY Jillian just happens to be there, ISN’T SHE PRETTY!!
Okay I really have to go now because Juniper is bored and crying at my feet and doesn’t care if I have any more to write or not. XOXO!
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