KNOTHE SIBLINGS || Santa Barbara, CA || I think in life, we have certain experiences with certain people that—in looking back upon them afterwards—feel almost destined to have unfolded just as they did. Literally, with each step, each turn, each movement made. My annual holiday session with Ava and Dallas was that for me this year. As sure as I'd been that I wanted to photograph them up at Lizard's Mouth, I couldn't even present it to their mom and dad with much conviction, feeling pretty certain they'd turn it down. Not that they don't trust me, because I know they do, but because (lo and behold) people other than me might not actually think a sanctuary of boulders 3,000 feet up with a four- and seven-year-old and an objective of Christmas pics is the greatest idea in the world. Go figure. But this is exactly why I love this family so much.

We began the day lamenting over the high 80s predicted for the weather during our shoot, almost picking a closer and easier location because of it, or rescheduling altogether. But when we realized our calendars wouldn't align again for months, I think we shared a collective sigh of resign over text messaging and forced ourselves to just get on with it. This is where I'll direct you back to the sentence I led this post with. How could we not have done this?! The kids were in awe, the parents were in awe, I was in awe—maybe of different things—but all in awe nonetheless.

Over the past three years photographing these guys, it's been so fun to watch our dynamic change. Dallas has gone from a quiet, timid baby to this gangly little man giving me a run for my money and running off ahead on his own. And Ava. What can I say. If I didn't have a muse of my own, she'd hands-down be it. Which, let's be honest, really means I have two. I could photograph her every day. And then this year, I finally got to see a side of Mom and Dad (especially Dad) that I'd never seen before. The images we made with their whole family together are some of my favorites from this set. I don't know how we're gonna top this next year, Knothes, but we'll need to set our sights somewhere out of this world.