The Blairs in Central Park 2009 & 2019

In July I told you about our family vacation to New York City. It was the first time Ben Blair and the kids had been back since we moved away from New York — ten years earlier!

A couple weeks before the trip, we considered the possibility of putting together a family photo shoot in Central Park, during our week long trip, that would mimic our original Central Park photo shoot from 2009. But we weren’t really interested unless the amazing photographer of the original shoot, Candice Stringham, was available. Alas, Candice moved away from New York many years ago — and she isn’t really doing family photos anymore, because she’s currently the Marketing Director at My Mind’s Eye.

But I reached out to her just in case, to see if she might be interested and available to come to New York for the shoot, and her response felt like a sign: she was already planning to be in New York that same week for the New York Gift Show!!!

With that answer, I started making plans for a specific date and time during our New York trip, and I also started thinking about what we had in our wardrobes that might work (Olive was a huge help with wardrobe!). The tricky thing was that our summer was nuts. We had planned the trip to New York many months earlier when our lives were more calm, and now here we were facing a move across a continent and an ocean just 3 weeks after the trip.

So I just didn’t have time to plan the ideal shoot and put as much time and effort into it as would have liked. For that original shoot, there was so much planning and lots of props — books, cupcakes, a whole picnic. This time, I was feeling like we’d be lucky just to get to the park with teeth brushed and hair combed.

Because of that, I felt quite tentative about the shoot, knowing that there was a decent chance we wouldn’t be able to fit it in, or pull it off. And we almost didn’t! Major rain storms hit the country the week we were in New York, and Candice’s flight kept getting cancelled. We thought we’d have to nix the shoot.

But she figured out a flight, and we pushed back the shoot until the last possible moment, and right up until 30 minutes before we met her, I was running around the city looking for a few more clothing options and crossing my fingers we could figure out something for everyone to wear. Hah! Happily, the kids picked up cupcakes (there was a shop downstairs from where we were staying) and we called it good.

Other things I want to remember about the shoot:

-Realizing the family had grown so much in ten years that clothing-wise, we were just dealing with a lot more fabric — and that adding any piece of clothing in a particular color could change the look and feel quite a bit. We also take up so much more space. There are more of us now, and everyone has grown which means instead of fitting tidily under an arch, we spill over the edges. : )

-Worrying about Betty who suddenly felt very sick mid-shoot, and was so courageous to stick it out. She was a great sport about the whole thing (and luckily she really loved her yellow jumpsuit).

-Flora June wasn’t born yet — she hadn’t even been thought up yet — when we did the original shoot, and I loved that we got a chance to include her in some Central Park photos.

-Our first shoot was in May 2009, and this shoot was in August 2019, and the weather difference between May and August was huge. Layering on a sweater or jacket for color was just too much in the August heat.

-Speaking of jackets, we still had the yellow jacket that Maude wore in the original shoot — it was in Flora’s wardrobe now. It was mostly too hot to wear this time around, but we did get a few shots with it. We also still had the blue pleated skirt I wore in the original shoot. Maude wore it this time around. (Luckily, we thought to pack both items before we left to New York!) I think it’s fun that we could have a couple of connections between both shoots.

-Shooting in August meant so many more people were in park! In fact, a couple of the places where we were hoping to shoot just weren’t available. There was a TV show filming in the same area, and again, lots of New Yorkers and tourists enjoying the park in the summer (as they should!). We were fine to make adjustments and workarounds.

-We wanted to (loosely) recreate some of the shoots from the first shoot, but we also wanted this to feel like a new shoot. And I think Candice did an excellent job. I’m especially thinking of the shots on the domed stage — I love the one wherever everyone is sort of striking a pose.

-Speaking of Candice, she was amazing. What a champ to re-book flights and make it work! And then, once she’d processed the new photos, she went back through her files to find photos from the original shoot too, so that I had high-resolution versions from both shoots to do side-by-side comparisons. Talking about going above and beyond!

I’m SO HAPPY we did this. I know a project like this can be so challenging, especially when it’s pretty last-minute, and especially while traveling, but what a treat to have these photos. I’m feeling very lucky — I kept getting weepy as I put together the mirrored images on this post. How wonderful to be able to watch my children learn and grow.

Do you have any family photos where the shoot was particularly memorable? Any shoot that you loved so much you would try to recreate it? I’d love to hear.

P.S. — I intended to use the new photos for Christmas cards but haven’t got around to it. Maybe I’ll do New Year’s cards again?

P.P.S — Here are a few more photos from both the 2009 and 2019 shoots:

This one of the kids making barfing gestures makes me laugh! I don’t even remember this one from the original shoot. I don’t think I’ve ever shared it before:

52 thoughts on “The Blairs in Central Park 2009 & 2019”

  1. Wow!! What a great idea! And what treasures for you to have always.

    Could you tell us more about your choice to wear a wig? Since this projects highlights how your family has changed and grown I would have guessed you’d want it to feature your current look.

    1. We shot some with my bleached hair, so we have those for our personal records, but the bleached white hair felt out of place with everyone’s brown hair — it was drawing too much attention — so I decided to go with my original color.

  2. Oh my heart! Honestly, I got chills looking at these! How tender they were in 2009, and how elegant and accomplished they look now. Gah!
    It also makes me look at the season I am in now, with a 7 and 8.5 year old and I think, in 10 years, they’ll practically be adults.
    I might have to try ever-so-hard to get a few really good snaps in while we are home here on Christmas break, in somewhat solid colors, in the hope that Future Me could have something to attempt recreating. :)
    High five to you, Mama Gabby. What a flock of fascinating, lovely people you and Ben are raising. :)

    1. Thank you, Karen. Now I’m trying to imagine what our family will be like in ten years and drawing up blanks. Where will we live? Will any of the kids be married? Or had their own kids? Who knows! Fun to imagine.

  3. Oh, how I loved the original set, which came out around when I started reading your blog, right around when we bought our first house and had our first baby. Love the mirrored update so much… and am wondering why with all the times we’ve scrambled for coordinating family picture clothes, I’ve never gone primary. Next time!

  4. Beautiful photos!
    I actually send out Valentine’s Day cards, to completely avoid the holiday craziness. An additional benefit: if you have many friends who don’t celebrate Christmas, this avoids the winter holidays. Also, who else sends out Valentine’s Day cards?

    1. Paul & Julia Child sent out Valentine’s Day cards! I always loved that idea.

      We sent out a “Happy New Year” card that gets delivered at some point in mid-January. I like sending them out when they’re not just one of dozens. :)

      These pics are great, Gabby! Beautiful family. Hope Betty felt better quickly (I know these are from August. Haha!) — hard to take photos when you’re not feeling well, she did an amazing job. I covet her yellow jumpsuit!

    1. Wouldn’t that be fun? We’ll all be together for a couple of weeks starting Monday, but alas, I don’t have a photographer nearby. Maybe we should do something with a self-timer and our phones. : )

  5. The way you pulled together a primary color scheme without it shouting PRIMARY is amazing and speaks once again to why you’re a designer. The pictures are absolutely precious and the setting is spectacular. Kudos to you, your family, and Candice for these gems. Merry Christmas!

    1. Good idea! I can tell you off the top of my head that the red stripe dress and yellow jumpsuit came from Aunt Jordan when she cleared out the Oh Happy Day studio. : ) And my dress is vintage Liz Claiborne — Olive bought it at a thrift store in Paris a few years ago.

  6. Love these photos and the color palette! With your wig, you look a bit like Zooey Deschanel! Also – those shots at the bandshell made me laugh only because all of my NY Road Runner races finish up there and it rained every single race I had this year – nice to see it looking white and dry (instead of grey)!

  7. This was Lovely..Thank you for sharing.. you make the Holidays so loving..Merry Christmas to you and your Family.. May God Bless you 🌲

  8. This was the photo shoot that brought me to your blog for the first time. I saw it linked elsewhere and I stuck around.

    These pictures are perfect and proof that modern reboots sometimes turn out ok!

  9. Ok, I love your short platinum hair, but I also love your dark locks in this shoot! How fun that you look amazing in such completely different looks!

  10. I don’t know quite why, but these photos made me tear up. I guess realizing how quickly a decade has gone in my life, and seeing how many changes has happened in your family with the pictures side by side…well, my heart. What a gorgeous family! I think yall did a fabulous job with the photos!

    1. Same! When I first saw the photos from the new shoot, I loved them, but they didn’t make me cry. Then, when I started putting the old and new side-by-side, it was so emotional!

  11. I love these! I remember when you shot the 2009 ones. I loved them so much then that I actually used them as inspiration for our family photos that year (which are actually still some of my favorites or our family). Amazing to see how your kids have changed.

  12. Très bonne idée de faire ces photos aux fils du temps. Je me souviens de superbes photos de votre famille avec des vêtements de toutes les couleurs très fleuri superbe, c’était il y a qq années. Vous avez des idées formidables. Bon séjour dans mon beau (et compliqué) pays !.

  13. Beyond gorgeous. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you sharing the real struggle it is to coordinate this- it looks effortless!! Tres magnifique.

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