I first had the opportunity to document the life of the Van Nice family (Jennifer, Brandon, and their kiddos Charlotte and Nicholas) back in 2017, when they had just grown from a family of three to a family of four. It was hard not to fall in love with them back then. But this time? I was completely obsessed, and for good reason. I got to see how close this entire family is and how much love they share. But this time, they had a mission: to document and remember 2020 and all that had happened to them, and to create their own memories despite it all. They genuinely wanted family celebration photos.
I was blown away when I found out about their year. While all of us have been dealing with the heaviness of 2020, this family was battling their own tremendous stress. Brandon was diagnosed with brain cancer and underwent extensive treatments to overcome it. During a pandemic. Can you even imagine?
Now, if you ask me, this doesn’t look like a man who has gone through that kind of struggle. But something tells me it’s because he has this amazing family on his side, plus it speaks heavily to his own character. And of course, in a community like Lawrence, Kansas, you always have people pulling together for you. I’m in awe over how this family overcame these significant challenges and are thriving today.
Brandon also celebrated his 40th birthday in 2020. Talk about some reasons to celebrate! I was so happy to capture this couple and to help them remember what they’ve achieved this year.
As if that wasn’t enough, their gorgeous little 5-year-old, Charlotte, started Kindergarten this year—again, during a pandemic. So on top of the stress of starting regular school, this amazing family was figuring out that giant Kindergarten milestone, at-home learning, and how to move forward after brain cancer! Just incredible. They make it looks easy. And doesn’t sweet Charlotte look like she was made for the camera?
On top of that, Jennifer’s parents, Lori and David, celebrated their own giant milestones. Both turned 60 this year. And look at the gorgeous family they have to show for more than 40 years of marriage. I’d be celebrating every chance I got if I were them.
Because of all this family went through this year, Jennifer wanted to celebrate the family. Her sister and brother-in-law joined for the session, and we got such sweet pictures of them and all of the kids, too. Nicholas and Anne are both three, and as any parent will tell you, that time is fleeting. I loved to capture moments with these kiddos as well as Jessica and Joshua.
I learned something big as I documented the Van Nice family. Never let your circumstances define you. Tackle setbacks full-on, and when you come out on the other side, take the time to remember what you’ve overcome. Thank you, Jennifer and Brandon. I think I needed this as much as you did.