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Ruth’s Family Portraits and Pregnancy Announcement at the Bel Air Mansion

A smiling couple holds their young child and a series of ultrasound images, standing outdoors on a sunny day, perfect for family portraits at Belair Mansion.

Ruth reached out to me last November when she had some big news: she and her husband were going to have another baby. She wanted to make this a family session that would double as a pregnancy announcement. Pseudo maternity sessions with the whole family are a great way to commemorate the changing tides in the life of a family, and kids love to look back on them when they’re older—I digress.

Ruth expected her toddler’s attention span would be precarious, and they wanted to include their very cute, very sweet, and very distractible golden retriever. I don’t remember his name, so I’m going to call him Pickles because I love that name for a dog. Ruth decided to keep the session short and sweet with an Express Session close to home at the Bel Air Mansion. The day of our session was in early January, and the weather was unseasonably warm. The afternoon light was damn near perfect.

We started our session on the north side of the building in a backlit patch of grass with the mansion’s historic arched windows behind them. Their son was a mix of quizzical expressions and smiles. Pickles was, as promised, a distractible ball of energy—basically Dug for Up—but we coaxed him into participating. We did a few walking shots and meandered toward the mansion’s main lawn for a few more photos of the family before changing gears and focusing our attention on their son.

Ruth had put together a cute marquee sign for her son to hold which read, “Yay, I’m going to be a big brother.” We photographed the toddler with the sign on some stone steps on the side of the mansion. He was a mix of acquiescent and entirely misunderstanding the assignment in a cute way that seemed to give the sign’s message—and its lack of exclamatory punctuation—a different, and funnier, meaning. One particularly cute photo with the sign featured the whole family, the boy’s father showing him the sign and the whole family helping him hold it up.

We moved on to some maternity-style photos of Ruth with a onesie she draped over her belly, and then some photos of Ruth and her husband holding up the sonogram images. Before we wrapped up, we tried one more time for some photos of their son holding up the marquee. We made a game out of it, which magically, was working. When the opportunity spontaneously materialized, the light wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t about to make perfect the enemy of good here by stepping in the way of something that was working.

We finally got what we were looking for in those images at the last minute. The marquee sign was just a little too big for the boy to hold up, which produced some very cute “organized-chaos” type images that capture the energy of a growing family perfectly. In the final shot, the boy is holding the sign in front of his face, and the whole thing really does feel like the sign is expressing his mood: “Yay, I’m going to be a big brother,” but this time, finally, with an exclamation point.