When I started Love Child, I had a vision of the types of women, some of whom would be moms, that would hopefully follow along. They would be strong, independent, creative, modern, and inspirational. One of the questions I often asked myself when pregnant (and now as a mom) is why? Why do I have to follow all of these mom rules? Can’t I just do what’s right for my family? What’s right for me? Of course the answer is Yes. And so to make a long story short, meet Lilly Neubauer. Lilly is the Director of Marketing for St. Bernard. We have never met in person but over countless conversations and emails, I now consider her a friend and have a total momcrush on her. I love following Lilly and family on their adventures on her personal blog, Pancakes and Beet Juice and Dallas Moms Blog where Lilly definitely breaks the rules (and mold) when it comes to being a mom. She is incredibly honest when it comes to her relationship with her husband which is both refreshing and inspiring and offers advice from her own personal experience of adopting daughter Heidi. When I saw her recent family photos, I just about fell out of my chair. Not only are they are the most beautiful images but they read like a storybook. It made me pause and think, what’s my family story? Shouldn’t this be how we all approach motherhood? Yes, let’s write our own story. Photography by Two Pair Photography
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE PHOTO SHOOT?
I moved out to West Texas to go to college after starting school in my hometown of Dallas. I had never seen a canyon before moving there and had never found them to be really beautiful, but after a while it got to be as I left Dallas and saw the red dirt and big sky on my drive into Lubbock, I started to feel at home and relaxed. I’ve always been a city girl so West Texas was like my secret place where I could be a different side of myself than at home where you have to be a little more polished. I met Markus in Lubbock so it is fond memories of both independent years and the beginnings of my family too.I love photos but don’t decorate much with family photos at home, so I had the idea to take some photos of a landscape I really loved with us in them. My inspiration was less focused on family photos and more like a commission of a place that is very special and majestic to me, made just for me with cameos of my people.Another reason I think these photos will always be really important to me is how much they represent a real love of family. These canyons will take your breath away with their stark beauty and power, and they got that way from weathering almost every element imaginable. The incredible striping on the red peaks is layers of dirt under intense pressure for thousands of years. Family is definitely close ups and wildflower fields and smiling at the camera, but what really keeps me grounded is knowing these people and I have each other to stand with when the elements hit. The elements aren’t a deviation from the plan, they are part of the plan and the only way to become fully what we’re meant to be. We may not be like every other family and we have our hardships, but we are red canyon beautiful and West Texas outlaws.
TELL US ABOUT THAT DREAMY LOCATION.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park is amazing, and has been on my travel list for years after driving through once in college. We stayed in one of their CCC cabins in the canyon, because we are both nature and air conditioning enthusiasts. It was really perfect for seeing the canyon with a toddler as there was no commute into the park to hit a hiking or walking trail in the morning. There’s also great camping spots in the park and in the summer they do an amazing show called Texas, The Musical, in the canyon’s amphitheater. We stayed here two days to break up a drive to Colorado and spend some time together before seeing my family on the second leg of the trip.Once I had the cabin booked, I started looking for a photographer. I searched “Palo Duro portrait photographer” and went through Google images until I found a photo by Two Pair Photography and realized they were exactly what I was looking for. I came to learn that they love traveling to shoot (and their travel fee is very reasonable), so I recommend them to friends who have ranches, beach houses and other family spots they love and want to capture in the special way.
TELL US ABOUT PREPARING A TODDLER FOR A DAY OF SHOOTING…IN THE DESERT.
Having the cabin was a huge help so we could get dressed and then be at the base of a trail we wanted to explore in just a few minutes. We also shot really early for good light and to make sure it didn’t get too hot. This also got us in some spots before a lot of other people were out and was a really special way to see the canyon.The biggest thing with a toddler was rolling with it! We took 149 shots and I think I have 20 with no tears or an adult running after her. I love those 20 so fiercely for being her real personality and they could not have been more worth it. Beaches, hills and places like that where kids can run around break up the time and make for some great photos. Heidi is very particular about how her socks and shoes fit. We tried on her boots plenty of times before, but that morning the zippers on them bothered her. Part of me wanted to throw up my hands, but we compromised and her calves were wrapped in paper towels under her boots during the shoot, which she thought was really cool. She also was not all about the hat, even though she wears it at home all of the time, so I just carried it and would ask her about it when we got to a new spot and let her decide.
“DID YOU COORDINATE EVERYONE’S OUTFITS?“
I try to pick outfits for family photos that work with the landscape and each other but, most importantly, are representations of ourselves. Heidi and I wear our boots often so those were a certainty, where I don’t think Markus has even worn a pair of boots in his life so it would have been really weird if I bought him a pair and made him wear them. I knew Heidi’s dress would be comfortable for her and pretty with the background colors. I thought the same for my white dress against the red dirt and sky, and thought some of the orange and blue embroidery would work well with the surroundings. Kind of like my inspiration for shooting there, we are city kids with a secret plan to run away to the West as often as possible, so a mix of Mexican dresses, cowgirl boots, Converse sneakers and Mara Hoffman is probably what you would find in our getaway bag. :o) I like everything to make sense together but not match. That’s our loose family philosophy and has always worked for us in photos!
ANY ADVICE FOR FAMILIES AS THEY START PLANNING THEIR HOLIDAY SHOOTS?
I am really inspired but how people are making family photos individual. It seems like gone are the days of matching sweaters or sitting around props in a photo studio, and I love seeing family’s personalities when I get their photos in a holiday card! Sense of place was a big story for us with these photos, so that is a great way to go if you can get family together in a spot that holds special meaning to you. We’ve also had photos taken in and around our home, which I think it a great way to share a more intimate part of your family life with others and remember the best part of days with a little one that go by all too quickly. I had a friend let her 3 year old dress herself for a fun shoot around town and she still pulls those out as a happy memory now that her daughter is a pre-teen! Think about what sets yourself apart and decide to treasure it over being one in many.
Lilly Neubauer lives in Dallas with her family, where she is the Director of Marking for Saint Bernard. You can keep up with Lilly on her personal blog, Pancakes and Beet Juice, or on Instagram at @LillyNeu.Chad + Tressie Zellner are the eyes behind Two Pair Photography. A husband and wife duo based in Texas. They are passionate about telling peoples stories fully and authentically from a unique artistic standpoint, and having a BLAST doing it! Stay up to date with Chad and Tressie on their website Two Pair Photography and on Instagram at @Twopairphoto.