At the end of a fun-filled day in San Francisco – frolicking on the beach as the Golden Gate Bridge loomed bright and bold in the background, visiting “Smitten”, where the liquid nitrogen they use to make their famous ice cream sinks eerily underneath the glass partition and bellows out like a ghost – I asked my client’s 8-year-old son Donovan, “What was your favorite part of the day?” His answer: “Being with you.”

And then my heart exploded.

Because what I love most about documentary photography sessions – along with the love I have of simply being able to create my art – is that I get to make meaningful connections with the families I photograph. It’s literally my job to get to know the families so I can better capture their essence. And I love that. I love people.

So I was extra glad that the Winner family had booked me for an entire day. They had flown me out from Denver to Oakland the night before and so first thing Saturday morning, I was up with the sun and ready to start documenting their day:

Some people needed slightly more prodding to get up than others, however.

The morning passed much like many others – the kids lazed around a bit, ate breakfast, and, of course, what morning would be complete without an epic battle with an unkillable fly.

Seriously, they zapped that thing like 8 times before he finally croaked. Mad respect, little fly. You gave it your all.

After finally getting the family ready we made our way to San Francisco to spend the day there. And…what can I say? Take a look:

Luckily for me, even their back yard was beautiful and we had just as much fun back home as we’d had in San Francisco.

But the best photos of the day – the best photos during any documentary family photography session – have nothing to do with novel backgrounds or pretty scenery. Sure, they may contain those elements but it’s not what makes the photos beautiful. What does make them strong is, in a word: love.

And I miss them. Lisa has promised to come visit my family in Denver and I so hope that she does. I haven’t made clients, I’ve made friends. Thanks again to the Winner family for inviting me into their home, treating me so warmly, and letting me document a day in their lives.