Family Photos at the Oakland Cranes

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Katrina Davis.

It was a Friday, and Ralph was leaving us for two years the next Tuesday. Ben Blair and I were running errands and I had a pang of regret: I wish we could get a family photo shot before he leaves. I wish we had a little more time!

And then I thought, maybe we still can. I studied the calendar and found a 2-hour window open the following morning, then I texted Katrina Davis, a local photographer I’ve worked with before, to see if by chance she was available. She was!

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I started to get my hopes up, thinking we might really be able to make this happen! For location, I knew exactly where I wanted to go — a public park on the Bay with the iconic Oakland Cranes in the background.

Date? Check. Time? Check. Location? Check. Photographer? Check.

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It was all coming together so quickly. Hooray! I texted the teens to keep their morning open, told myself we’d figure out what to wear that night, and went about my day.

Outfits came together quickly that night, the photo shoot went smoothly in the morning, and the I didn’t think about it again. Until a few days ago when Katrina sent us the photos. They are such a treasure to me! I love how they turned out, and I love the very Oakland location, and I’m so happy we captured this moment in our family before everything changed.

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It was a particularly crazy weekend, and even after we sorted out the details of the shoot, I kept second-guessing myself and wondering if it was too hard to it in, wondering if we should cancel. I’m so glad we didn’t. It was worth it one hundred percent.

35 thoughts on “Family Photos at the Oakland Cranes”

  1. What special pictures! I can’t believe how long I have been reading your blog, and seeing the family photos really make it sink in! I used to think “Poor Gabrielle, all her kids look just like her husband” and then sometime you posted young pictures of yourself and I thought “What was I thinking?!?” Anyway, hard to believe how adult they are all getting.


  2. These are beautiful and a great variety of pictures. I like how you got just the girls and boys, you and hubby, and just the kids plus b&w and color. Awesome!

  3. @designmom, we got a family photographer who turned out to be rubbish. Can you do a post on how to select, interview, and choose a family photographer? What’s a reasonable rate for a really great one? Who should pick the venue? How do you know which poses will come out best, with everyone looking trim and slim and happy? What colours do you wear? I’m sure this would be great for all of us who read your blog.

  4. So wonderful! I don’t know how long exactly I’ve been reading – sometime before you moved to France, I think – but it’s so great to see how your kids have grown. You have such a beautiful family!

    I would love to have professional pics taken of our family – but since it’s just my husband and me, I always talk myself out of it. Which means it’s been 18 years since we have professional pics taken of ourselves as a couple – and now that I write it, my excuse sounds absolutely silly!

    Like the previous reader, malaika, however, I am clueless how to find a good photographer. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

    1. What worked for me is to find a photographer whose style you like (I’m very unfussy and natural – the whole posed/ studio look doesn’t work for me, for example) and even when you engage with them first, tell them what you have in mind. I love to choose an amazing location because that (for me) is part of the shoot.

      I have young twins so I’ve checked that they are familiar with kids and patient…… I like us to co-ordinate but not match 100%

      And then a lot of gut feeling.

  5. These are absolutely fantastic! How lovely you were able to make it happen so quickly and capture such a special time. Treasures, indeed :)

  6. I adore the first photo of your babies in the grass! It makes me tear up a bit reading about them leaving ( which is silly as my Winnifred is only 2 months).

  7. I guess I’ve been reading your blog for longer than i thought…or your kids grew up over night! Wow! They’re like for real adults now…well almost! What a fun way to capture your beautiful family!

  8. Just had to chime in with my “WHEN DID THEY GROW UP!?’ comment. :P Seriously, I was thinking Betty was June, and where’s baby June, and is that a cousin before finally figuring it out!

    Wonderful pictures. I’m always so impressed with your parenting. You truly make it look easy, though I know it’s challenging. Way to make time for pictures and helping your birds leave the nest. :)

  9. Oh I love these! We traveled a bit in Europe this summer and it was so distressing to me how much the Kardashian family gets coverage world wide. I remember thinking it was just awful that for many people, they represent American families. How I wish a family like yours was what was people from other countries could see. You guys are amazing!

  10. All of your family photo shoots have been so special and beautiful, but this one is my favorite. Maybe it’s because you can sense the special family moment before the two oldest leave. Or maybe because it has a special ease about it. I love how casual and “everyday” the outfits are. They capture exactly who your family unit is at this moment in life, and that is truly special. Something to truly cherish, indeed!

  11. I would be curious about how you assembled the outfits. We have a photographer coming next week so this is a timely post for me!

  12. these are so lovely. i am glad you were able to make them happen. (and what a good lesson for all of us about seizing the moment to do domething special…and not always waiting for the perfect time and place.)

    what is so incredibly touching to me is the underlying sadness in so many of the photos. in the 5th photo down, your daughters who are 2nd from the left and on the far right (forgive me for not double-checking names) both look like they are about to burst into tears. it is clear that your children love each other. that must bring you much joy.

  13. What cuties! And such an amazing moment in your family story to capture. I always enjoy the posts where you share personal thoughts about parenting and family – you have such great wisdom and perspective. Also, ps, I love the short, dark hair!

  14. Wonderful photos! What a great reminder for us all to take the time every now and then to get those photos taken. Thanks for sharing!

    Vivi /

  15. What wonderful photos! I’m so happy you were able to pull it off. These are photos you’ll treasure forever. I think a lot of older mothers (like me!) wish they’d pushed a little harder to have family portraits taken more often. Time flies.

  16. Cute! Glad you could make it happen. We have plenty of family snapshots, but I keep putting off family photos because of outfit coordination, time, cost, etc. All the while, my 6 kids are growing up.

  17. This made me tear up. What beautiful pictures of a beautiful family. I LOVE that you chose that park as the location! Miss you all.

  18. The pictures are perfect!The children are all getting so big and growing up! So exciting to have your son on a mission in South America! Hope all is going well for him. Can’t remember if you mentioned if he was going to be in the Provo MTC or one in South America?

  19. This isn’t really connected to this post, except that I love seeing how your family interacts, but I wanted to tell you how much I look up to you and admire you as a mom and family. We live really different lives (my oldest is June’s age; I’m just now pregnant w a surprise 3rd; I’m not the least bit entrepreneurial; and we are nominally Episcopalian, if anything!) but I think about things you’ve written about all the time and you’re for sure the blogger I most often reference to my husband (“remember the family with 6 kids who picked up and moved to France…?”). Thank you for sharing your family and life with us.

  20. Beautiful pictures! It is such an important moment in your family life. Kids will look different in 2 years. They will always be a treasure. Love your blog!

  21. Hannah Beth Reid

    I’m so, so glad you were able to capture this time in your family, even in the midst of it all happening!

  22. Hello, I’m not sure if you’ll see this right away but I believe someone is using your families photos attempting to scam people. They probably won’t get many donations either way but they’re going around Instagram claiming that their mother has lung cancer and is using your family photographs to do so. I thought you might want to know just in case. Here’s the go fund me link they’re using:

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