When a daughter goes off to college, parents usually feel a mix of emotions: Pride, some anxiety, and the bittersweet feelings of their child flying the nest so soon. I've known the Hills for a few years now, and took Regan's senior pictures this spring. Her mother Nikky and I have often talked about the feelings involved when watching her oldest child grow into a woman. Thoughts like, "Did we prepare her to make good decisions? What if she needs us? Why did she grow up so fast?"  have been part of the process of letting go. It's a process I'm just now starting to go through with my own daughter. It's hard. But it's necessary. 

Regan is a confident, bright, and beautiful young woman, who demonstrates the love and sensitivity that her parents used while raising her. She recently came home from Mizzou for Labor Day Weekend, and we took some photos that radiate the closeness of this family. 

There were lots of hugs, wrestling matches, and general silliness during our session. I can tell that Mason loves his sister so much. They tease each other like brothers and sisters do, but I could see how glad he was to have her home for a few days. I had so much fun watching them laugh and joke around, especially when they told secrets about their parents and played with their lovable dachshund, Polly. 

Hanging out with this family is so easy - they welcome you in like one of their own, and it makes it easy to get great images when you feel this comfortable with your subjects. Warm-hearted fun was had by all, and it was hard to wrap up our session, because I enjoy their company so much!

More than anything, Donald Ray and Nikky have so much to be proud of. They've done an excellent job raising their daughter, and Mason is going to be just as successful. The Hills have shown me that reassuring our kids of our unconditional love and presence, but letting them go to forge their own way, is the most valuable gift we can offer them. Love and stability give children the strongest wings of all when it's time for them to fly on their own.