Annual photos taken by Sara Welch

boys in garden boys smiling courtney and kids coutney and kids 2 easton and slingshot four kids girls being silly girls in the garden girls kids climbing tree Kids running marlow and basket marlow on monkey bars marlow on quin's back marlow picking berries marlow smelling flower marlow smiling marlow me carrying marlow quin and chicken quin holding marlow quin picking berries sweet ivy walking into sunset
Every year at the end of the summer we meet up with Sara Welch for a quick photo-shoot of my summery babes with their tanned bodies and sun-bleached hair. Sara comes to my dad’s house on the farm and photographs them in this familiar place as they pick vegetables from the garden, chase the chickens and play on the swings.

I love that we have these photos taken in the same spot each year and I’m always so impressed with how Sara manages to really capture their individual personalities in the quick hour she spends with us. Her photos this year are especially insightful, and I thought I would share them here along with some notes about each of the kids.

  • Easton is still so innocent, adventurous and young in spirit. Though still the leader of the gang, this is the first summer I can see him starting to become more independent and taking a bit of distance from the others. He’s been very good this summer at reading and he does most of his chores and tasks without needing to be reminded (most of the time). He’s also been so responsible, always looking out for Marlow and making sure she’s safe and not getting into trouble. If he’s outside playing and doesn’t see her, he’ll come running into the house to make sure she’s with me. He has spent lots of time this summer with Marlow on his back, buckling her sandals and helping her whenever she needs help. It makes me really proud to see how caring he is with her. Those two have a very special bond! Easton has always required the most of my attention, often pushing buttons or testing limits. But summer is always so good for him — he really thrives in the outdoors and does so much better when he’s given independence and space to explore.
  • Quin is, as always, very happy to be wherever Easton is. Their friendship is really heartwarming and I spent so much time watching them this summer, feeling grateful that they have each other. Quin is very easy going and will follow Easton’s lead most of the time and play nicely with all of his siblings. He has loved being near animals, and more than any of the other kids he likes spending time with the chickens and dogs. He also really loves being with my mom and sister. He’s the first one to ask if he can run errands with my mom, and he always asks if he can sleep in her bed. He is less social with strangers, but he is very close with the people he chooses to open up to. Though an eager student at school, I’ve found it surprisingly difficult to get Quin to read and focus on our educational activities this summer. I would have thought he would be the one to embrace home education above the others, but he has so far shown the most resistance.
  • Ivy is such a sweet, happy girl and I love how these photos show this side of her. She has really enjoyed spending the summer with family — she loves spending time with me, and enjoys being in places where I grew up and listening to stories I share from my childhood. She enjoys being outside but she also loves sitting quietly inside, playing with my old American Girl dolls and playing dress-up with Marlow. She is very patient with Marlow, even when Marlow isn’t always so kind to her. She’s very tough and strong, but not in a strong-willed way, and I am always so impressed with her patience and reserve. She is also courageous and willing to take on any physically challenging or daring thing the boys want to do. This summer she swam out to our floating dock in the frigid Puget Sound, a rite of passage for every generation of my family.
  • Marlow is a million things. She is very strong AND strong-willed. She is incredibly smart and spirited and is constantly surprising all of us with her knowledge, observations and quick wit. She is feisty and independent, needing very little help (until she gets tired of walking and asks to be carried). She is very much aware of her position in the family and enjoys being the baby. This summer she carried around a little basket and filled it with ‘treasures’ wherever she went. I loved watching her combing the beaches for sea glass, shells and any other treasure she could find. She would do it happily for hours, just like her mama. She even found four shimmery agates on the rocky beaches this summer (Michael has never even found one!).

20 thoughts on “Annual photos taken by Sara Welch

  1. Hi Courtney,
    Having followed you IG account for years, it is so lovely now to follow your personal blog. Such an inspiration on so many levels. l am so excited to see your year unfold and have already started ‘THE TALK’ with my husband about taking time out to travel! Who knows. Thank you for your write up about your children in particular Easton whom from everything you have written sounds in many ways like my son. He too is very innocent (way innocent than some of his peers) and l wonder if that worry’s you and how you have kept his innocence as he has grown older and peer pressure becomes greater.
    I wonder sometimes if l do my son a disservice when l watch those around him but deep down l feel so strongly that l want to give him a childhood as l feel they grow up so quickly these days.
    Thank you for your time. Please feel free to email me.

  2. These pictures came out so beautifully. And I loved reading about their personalities. Sounds like your oldest and youngest keep you the busiest! My older daughter is definitely the most challenging, but is also a completely different (easier) person during the summer. So interested to see how this will shake out as they grow older. Thanks for sharing. xo

  3. Gosh what beautiful pictures. I haven’t heard about other families doing photos at a particular time of year (other than the holidays – max stress!), but I love it. I wish I knew how to go about finding a photographer I love where we live (Los Angeles); so many pictures seem forced.

    On another note, your romper is adorable. May I ask where it is from?

  4. The photos Sara has taken are stunning! I love how you have made it an annual event and in the same location, what a wonderful way to document how they each grow and change, year by year. x

  5. I really regret not sticking to traditions. What a lovely montage of yourselves you’ll have to look back on when the kids are all grown up.
    When I first read about your year’s sabbatical, I thought how exciting for you all to visit new and interesting places. Of course the kids will have varying memories of the places they will have visited but after reading this post I realise that what you will look back on and cherish most is really getting to know your kids, it seems you are already experiencing this with Quin. Perhaps even more impotantly your kids are getting to see their parents relaxed and at their best away from the day to day humdrum of ‘traditional’ family life. I’m often cynical about new trends, but the Slow living trend is much needed by us all.

  6. Courtney,

    Thank you for sharing “our” photos.
    I love getting to spend that hour with you all each year. I’m so excited to watch your travels for the next year.

    I hope to get to do photos with you all in London sometime in this lifetime and with Michael.

    Thanks for all the sweet words everyone (my heart is warmed)

  7. Gosh I just found your blog! Love it! And these pics are the most beautiful captures I’ve seen of childhood in a long time. Perfect blend of setting, your great kids and Sara’s art. I LOVE!

  8. Love your descriptions of the children’s personalities. Your eldest boy sounds very similar to mine, currently aged 6 and going through a tricky stage. I’m struggling to know how to “help” him get through it and return to the sweet boy I know he is.

  9. Oh my goodness, the backdrop for these stunning photographs! The tall trees and all your muted blues…a picture tells a thousand words and all that…how stunning they all are x

  10. What beautiful, natural photos. Wonderful keepsakes. I have to admit that reading your personal descriptions of each of your lovely children made me feel quite emotional (hormones & age may be to blame in some part but also being a Mum too!) as the depth of your love and pride in them shone through in your writing Courtney. I look forward to reading your blog throughout your travels and wishing you all much happiness in the year ahead and beyond X

  11. Lovely pictures!
    Reading the description of your sons’ personalities made me picture my own sons. They are incredibly similar.
    Good luck with your travels this year. It sounds like a fantastic adventure. If you need any tips when you’re in Uruguay (I’m from there, but live in Brazil) let me know!

  12. Dear Courtney, I follow you on Instagram and always look forward to your pictures. I’m so happy that you’re blogging about your adventures in a dedicated space, as opposed to just on Babyccino (which I also love!).

    These photos of your family are wonderful. Having seen your kids so much in pictures, it’s surprisingly moving to read your thoughts about their characters. I really feel as if I know them! (Is that weird?!) I’ve always thought Ivy looked like the sweetest, gentlest soul and I’m so interested to read what your say about her patience with strong-willed Marlow, I think because it reminds me of my relationship with my big sister, who has always been so funny, smart, wild, sassy & larger than life. I adore her but think I had to develop a quieter strength to handle her sometimes. My own daughter is 8 weeks old and already showing signs of having inherited some of my sister’s bold character – how will I cope with another one?! Anyway just wanted to check in and say thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to read more about your journey and am really inspired by what you’re doing xoxo

  13. What a great thing to do every year…with a large family it all goes by so fast and must be lovely to have such beautiful pictures to look back on!
    Already enjoying your blog! Exploring the world has always been something I so desperately want to do with my children! Next year we are driving through Europe to Italy but we plan to do a west coast USA drive 2017 and Aus in 2018, so very interesting to see another ‘4 child family’ do something similar….I will be taking note of all your recommendations 😉

  14. Courtney I just love these captured moments, but even more than the photos I love your sweet words about each of your babies. I have followed your beautiful family for years and it’s so lovely to read about each of your littles growing personalities. So excited to follow you on this incredible adventure! Xo

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