I've been photographing Gavin and his sister Riley for a couple of years now. I met the family for the first time during Riley's baptism in 2007. And before this one, I also took pictures of Riley's 2nd birthday party last year. Mommy Rhoda told me that she's decided she will continue throwing birthday parties for the kids until they tell her to stop, so I'm really hoping I could still be part of all their celebrations.:)
A few days after I sent out the photos to Rhoda, I got a really nice email from her that made me cry. I asked her and she said I could share their story on this blog. She said I'm a great storyteller because I have photos to match. But you know what? I think I'll let her tell their story. Here are excerpts from the email (posted with permission, of course) that she sent me:
Just wanted to thank you for the great pics and for being there during the most important events of my life. From Riley's baptism to Gavin's birthdays (I think you covered 4 out of 6!). You have a really great job, you see the kids grow up and you see them at such a happy occasion...
...Anyway, I wish I can book you for Riley's 3rd birthday in September (I decided I'd celebrate all their birthdays until they tell me to stop, and I'm sure there will come a time that they'd do that) but we're leaving sometime in June so Gavin can get more intensive therapy/education in the US. It was after his second birthday that he got diagnosed with autism. We've been going through almost 2 years of therapy already and he has shown great progress! I'm just so proud of him. And you really captured his happiness on his birthday! Did I tell you he spelled z-o-o when I asked him where he wanted to have a party. I think he did that on 2 separate occasions so I booked the place. Sometimes it crosses my mind that if he could only speak then everything would be okay. But with autism, there would really be good days and bad days. It's a lifelong condition and there is no "cure". So I just focus on all our good days (and we're on a roll lately!) and prepare for the not-so-good ones.
I hope in a few years time when you cover our parties again, you can still capture his smile and his eyes. Again, thank you for sharing the great memories with us and for capturing those once in a lifetime events. We love looking at the pictures!
And yes, everytime I see Gavin, I see great progress in him too and I couldn't help but feel proud as well. :)
Here are some photos from the party.
The yummy cake and cupcakes!
Riley is such a smart little girl. Rhoda says she's not too fond of the zoo, but she seemed to enjoy herself during the party anyway.
And here's our birthday boy Gavin.
It was quite difficult to get good shots at the zoo because it was too dark and everyone had their backs on me (because they were looking into the animal cages.) This one, however was one of my favorite shots and it was taken by one of the animal cages. Side story: Rhoda came earlier than the kids to do last minute preparations at the venue. And when she found out that the kids had arrived, she hurried downstairs because she wanted to see the expression on Gavin's face when he sees the place. And I think this photo captures how happy Gavin was to be there.:)
The host giving the guests a tour around the zoo. Look how attentive Riley is.
Gavin looking into one of the cages.
He's such a handsome boy, isn't he?
At the feeding area.
Riley wasn't really interested in the animals. :D
Then it was time to head back up and get on with the program.
We didn't get the chance to take family portraits, but I was able to capture this moment and I loved it.
The whole family helping out with the candles.
Riley helping out with the giveways.
Some animals were brought up and this dog was my favorite.