Jennings’ Boys


I hope that everyone is basking in post-turkey bliss, well rested after lovely tryptophan and wine induced sleep and perhaps continuing to munch on leftover pie and turkey sandwiches.  Happy belated Thanksgiving to all.  I saved this post for this week to keep the warm, family buzz going because I love this family…

Ings and I go way back.  Far back enough that her now teenage nephew, Chandler, was 4 years old and calling her “Ings”.

I was a first year grad student and Jennings was my digital photography teacher.  Bless your heart for the assumptions but truth be told, I was far from her star student.  “Command Z” was all I knew.  I spent the majority of class time with arms folded, rolling my eyes and blowing exasperated sighs through my bangs while muttering something about throwing a computer through a window.   I didn’t have time for this digital crap.  I had real art to make, in a darkroom, and this class was a waste of my precious time.  She allowed me to sulk but she wouldn’t take crap from me or anyone else.  And so it was, that first horrid semester, that we spent many late evenings together as Jennings tutored a hopeless case of a student, enrolled against her will in a graduate level digital class without ever having opened Photoshop.  She earned my respect twenty times over and we became friends.

Two and a half years years later I completed my graduate thesis work in a computer lab rather than a darkroom and was teaching Photoshop classes at two different colleges.  Trust me, neither one of us saw that one coming.  In fact, Jennings frequently uses me as an example with discouraged students: if Mel could do it, there’s definitely hope for you.  Look to the sky because pigs can fly! Its really just a testament to Jennings’ mad digital and teaching skills though.

And now we’re both mothers to young boys, no one saw that one coming either.  Taking photographs for Jennings, her husband Kurt and their two beautiful boys, Kael and Gaige, has been an incredible honor and privilege for me.  We got together at Carter Mountain where Jennings and Kurt have been coming together each fall since they began dating.  Once married, they invited family to pack a picnic basket and join them and over the years it has become such an important tradition that Jennings and Kurt, who now live in San Antonio, packed their bags to come home this fall and make the drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Texas-born Gaige was not used to cold weather and wearing so many layers.  He found his jacket very confusing so we likened him to Randy from A Christmas Story


The family boarded a tractor for a hay ride around the property and afterwards we took a few family photos in the pumpkins.  The photo with Gaige, Kael and cousin Skylar is going to be especially priceless someday…



While the mountain view was amazing, we headed towards the apple groves to picnic and run.  I loved the solitude and light there so much that we really didn’t stray, it was the perfect play stage.

Check out Kael’s big bro stance here:



There was some quality control related apple eating…






And a whole lot of running and tickling.





While taking photos of Jennings and Gaige, Kurt and Kael staged an ambush.  These are definitely my favs.  L-O-V-E.  Love.







Jennings tasked me with picking a slideshow song, always a risk because you never know what I will come up with.  So I chose the theme song from Raising Arizona. Because hey, its bluegrass with a nod to the follies and adventures of parenthood.  Besides, who knows how we will surprise each other next?  Hopefully not by putting “a panty” over our heads and running down the street with a pack of Huggies but you never know, the two of us have done crazier things and pigs can fly…

Enjoy the slideshow and online gallery and thanks, Huletts and Sheffields, for such a lovely day.   I know how weird it is to be in front of the lens instead of behind it so thanks for letting me play.  I’m so sorry that my and my boys had to leave before the vineyard leg of the tour but we’ll make up for it with some beers very soon, December is almost here, can’t wait to see you and your boys then!




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