So you wanna go on a road trip, huh?

There’s a lot to consider in the planning phase. Where are you headed? Will you camp? Stay in hotels? Crash on friends’ couches? Air BNB? A mixture of accommodations? Will you drive a car? A motorhome? A car with a trailer? How long will you be gone? If you have pets, will you take them? If you have kids, will they need to be out of school? How many hours per day are you willing to be on the road? Will you work from the road, or take vacation time? There are TEN MILLION more questions like these to answer, and the cool part is that only you can answer them. There’s no one Right Way to take a road trip. But here are some of the decisions we made and how we arrived at them.

Where To Go?

This seems the logical place to start your planning, and it’s where we started ours. We made the decision a few years ago that we wanted to prioritize experiences for our family over stuff. For us, that means travel and adventures get more in the budget, and toys and gadgets and eating out and cable/satellite and all the other trappings of modern life get less or none. We want memories, not stuff that breaks or sucks the life out of us.

An idea is born…

Last summer it was time to begin thinking about our next adventure, and around this time I was doing FitBit virtual challenges (don’t laugh) to help remind me to stay active (this relates, I promise). One of the challenge categories was Yosemite hikes. This is a bit of a rabbit trail, but it’s pretty cool – you can take virtual hikes that correspond to the number of steps you’re taking during the day, and the app will alert you when you’ve reached landmarks on your hike. The landmarks all have 360 photos of the actual spot in the hike that you’ve reached, and it’s breathtaking. All this reminded me how much fun I had as a kid taking endless road trips to National Parks all over the US, and how much I loved Yosemite especially. No one else in my family had been there, and the kids had never been nearly that far west at all. And so was born the idea of a Yosemite trip.

From there, it truly snowballed. “Hey, honey, we’ll be so close to San Francisco, we should go there too!” “We should drive, and camp along the way!” “We could totally see our friends in L.A. while we’re in California!” “I could shoot sessions along the way to help pay for the trip, and we could explore different areas of the country!” etc. Our planning was dangerously close to getting out of hand. We realized we just couldn’t see EVERYTHING we wanted to in one trip, even if we stretched out from the original 2 weeks we had envisioned to a month (which we ended up settling on). We made necessary (but sad) cuts in our planning and finalized our routes based on the sessions that I’d booked, and voila! An itinerary.

How To Go? 

This took some thought. We’ve taken quite a few (much) shorter road trips with our little family, and we know from our experiences that long car rides can be super obnoxious. Everyone is packed in tight, seat belted in place; food and activities are hard to access with all the baggage and the aforementioned seat belts and lack of space. Inevitably, someone has to call a bathroom stop every 30-60 minutes, stretching a 7 hour trip into a 10 hour trip (UGH NO JUST NO). And the idea of tent camping every night (ew no) or hotel/motels every night ($$$$$!!!) wasn’t attractive. I really like to a) be clean and moderately comfortably, and b) save money.

This process landed us at the RV option. The hubs and I took a day date to the local RV sales lot, and toured some different models. Holy heck there are a HUGE RANGE of RV’s to choose from! Length, layout, slideouts or no slideouts, motorhome or trailer. There is a large spectrum that goes from pretty rustic to “this is nicer than the home I own!” Soooooo much to consider. For us, the process looked like this:

  • Motorhome Pros:

    You can ride in it, which equals more space and flexibility, and A HUNDRED PERCENT LESS BATHROOM STOPS. This also makes it easier for McGee and I to work from the road; while one of us is driving, the other can be in the back – in relative privacy – working. Also, there’s no moving our stuff around from stop to stop. Everything we need is all in one place.

  • Trailer Pros:

    Having our vehicle with us means we can arrive at our campsite, set up, unhook, and go see the surrounding city/countryside/National Park. Motorhomes can be tricky to navigate around cities, and finding parking can be a huge headache. Plus there’s a lot of “setting up” and “settling in” at campsites that is laborious to un-do if you want to just turn around and go see the sights.

[Yes, I realize there is a third option of driving a motorhome and towing a car, but that seemed overwhelming to us, as well as pricey with the added gas mileage.] In the end, we settled on renting a motorhome, and I’m glad we did. The pros really outweighed the cons, and still do.

How To Pay??

This is a big one, because road trips can be crazy-expensive. Gas alone — don’t get me started. But it’s doable, if it’s important enough to you. Around the time we decided to do this thing, I opened a Qapital account to start saving (because if you’re like me, intentional saving can be hard. Qapital kind of tricks you into saving, which is really helpful for my personality type.). I also started squirreling away a bigger portion of my income into my traditional bank savings account. The next phase of saving was booking sessions along the way. Another element of the process was lots and lots of Pinterest searches for money-saving roadtrip tips. There are a lot of people out there who have done this before, or even live on the road with their families as a lifestyle choice. Learn from those who have experienced what you want to do!

The bottom line is that if something is important to you, you can do it. Don’t expect it to be easy, and don’t write it off as a possibility if you don’t already have enough in your bank account to just go for it right this minute. Work hard! Be creative, and be intense about saving.

Where To Stay? 

We have stayed everywhere from National Park campgrounds to KOA’s to RV resorts to weird backwoods state parks. We haven’t done any side-of-the-road overnights, or Walmart parking lot camping (which is totally a thing!! RV’s are welcome to stay for free overnight in all Walmart parking lots), just because we’re not 100% comfortable with that route. But it’s a thing, people do it, and there are even apps that help you plan that kind of thing. It’s just not for us. Here’s a quick rundown of the options we’ve used:

  • National Parks: 

    I am slightly obsessed with our National Park system. Always have been. Camping there is never glamorous and there are rarely amenities of any kind, but it’s beautiful and deeply awe inspiring. VERY important to keep in mind, however: these book FAST depending on the park, and for some parks, campsites are only sold 5-6 months in advance during a 5-10 minute window. So if you want to stay in the park, do your homework and book early. Also, be prepared to have a somewhat more rustic experience here; many park campgrounds don’t offer showers (even though we have a shower in the RV, it’s MINISCULE and it’s so nice to shower in a real shower every now and then), only have vault toilets (glorified outhouses), and there are no hookups available (hookups: Don’t think Tinder, you naughty person – think “electrical,” “water,” and “sewer.”). This isn’t the case at all National Parks, but be prepared.

  • KOA’s: 

    We love KOA’s, every last one of us. There is something for everyone, even the dogs. We’ve stayed in so many, and they’ve all been very pet friendly, had great dog parks, well-stocked camp stores, good playgrounds, and unique fun things for us to do together. Most have great pools, some have hot tubs too; we’ve stayed at some that offer family movies under the stars, putt-putt courses, or giant jump pillows. They’re affordable – they’ve consistently been less expensive than the non-KOA campgrounds, with the exception of state and national parks.

  • RV Resorts: 

    These have been hit-or-miss for us. We’ve stayed at some good ones, we’ve stayed at some “meh” ones. Some have had pools, some have been glorified parking lots. The one we stayed at in Malibu had glorious ocean views, and beautifully landscaped walking trails. The one we stayed at in San Francisco had an obnoxiously nosey security guard and wildly overpriced laundry. Live and learn!

  • State Parks:

    Typically along the lines of National Parks without quite as much grandeur, and reservations are typically not hard to get. Usually inexpensive, generally more primitive.

Feel free to ask me any questions you might have, right here in the comments! I loved planning this trip, and I’m loving the experience of being on it (Day 21!). Go see the country, guys!

. . . . . 

You can follow along on our trip day by day on Instagram (hint: most of the action is in my Insta stories): @emilylapishphotog

Previous Road Trip posts:

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Emily Lapish is a full-time photographer, wife, mom, and crazy person. She likes long walks through Target while cradling a latte. She is fueled by passion for restoration, grace, and also by obscene amounts of coffee. 

To book a free consultation or inquire about a session, click here.

 

 

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It goes without saying that when you plan to do something huge that you’ve never done before, the research can only take you so far. You just don’t know what to expect past a certain point, and that can only be learned from experience. There are definitely stages to our journey, and I don’t mean the parts of the country we’re going through or the time zones or the plans we’ve made. Stage 1 I call “HOLY CRAP THIS IS HAPPENING WHEEEEEEE”. Stage 2 I’m referring to as “Hey, this is kind of unfolding into a routine! We’re good at this!” Stage 3 is somewhere along the lines of “I am overwhelmed by the sheer enormity and constancy of the beauty I’m experiencing and I need to shut down.” Stage 4 is where I’m at today: “HELP ME I HAVE BEEN IN THE DESERT WITHOUT CIVILIZATION FOR SO LONG I’M AFRAID THE OUTSIDE WORLD DOESN’T EXIST ANYMORE.” Mind bending, I tell you.

To combat the Evil Stage 4 Freak Outs, I’m sitting in a laundromat writing this list. You’re welcome.

EXPECTATION 1: We’ll only need to do laundry once a week!

I mean, really – I packed enough clothes for each of us for one week. There are “raggedy clothes for climbing rocks and exploring caves” and “nice clothes for sightseeing in cities” and “normal clothes for travel”; that’s more than sufficient for a week and should require no more than 1 laundry day per week to keep us clothed.

Reality: HOLY CRAP WHERE DO ALL THESE DIRTY CLOTHES COME FROM I AM DROWNING IN DIRTY CLOTHES. We swim almost every day, which means inevitably means my monsters children have changed out of their PJ’s and into day clothes, eaten breakfast, spilled milk on themselves, changed into MORE day clothes, played with the dogs in the dust, and then realized they need their swimsuits on. Then after the swim, obviously they need to put on more clean day clothes. I’ve been a mom for more than a decade – why didn’t I think of this. Why. Also, spills are a constant, which means the neat, economical “1 towel per person” that I packed has been used to clean apple juice off the RV carpet and can’t be used for a shower.

EXPECTATION 2: We can see everything on our list in one month!

I mean, I did the math! Look at our neat, organized Roadtrippers itinerary – it all fits!! We can see Antelope Canyon AND Horseshoe Bend in the morning, and the Grand Canyon in the afternoon, and get to our campground in time for an evening swim (OK, any fool can see that’s just NUTS and honestly that was my major screw up. In the planning phase, I somehow saw that as two separate days and not one. I really do know better than that. But here we are.). I even cut a BUNCH of stuff out of our trip so that it wouldn’t be too hectic and we could do it all (Oh Pacific Northwest, you are my FAVORITE; I weep that I can’t see you this time). So we should be good, right??

Reality: WRONG. Every day is packed, we’re not staying anywhere more than two nights except Austin, (which was WONDERFUL. We had three nights there and it was actually relaxing.). Each time we wake up in a new place, and the kids get to explore it after waking up, they say “This is awesome!! I’m so glad we’re here! How long do we have??” and I look at my watch and say, “Well, checkout is in two hours.” And we all want to cry. Also, refer to Stage 2 above: the incredibleness unique to each place is too much to take in. We have some sensory overwhelm and just need a minute, you know? HOWEVER – it’s still amazing. Don’t get me wrong. If all I have is three hours to enjoy Lake Powell, I’m grateful for it.

EXPECTATION 3: We will go stir crazy being crammed into a small space with each other for a month.

I mean, there’s no way around it, right?? Kids will be kids, and they drive me crazy at home where we have 1700 sq feet and a yard to spread out. It should definitely be far worse in a 28 foot RV. If we can make it home without causing bodily harm to each other, it will be a success.

Reality: KNOCK ON WOOD, but we’re all getting along! The kids have minor spats just like always, but they’re resolved quickly. And unless I’m mistaken, they’re also more ready to give grace to one another. THIS, my friends, is a minor full-on miracle.

And Now A Few Things I Wasn’t Expecting At All

Jet Lag. Time zones CONFUSE MY BODY AND MY MIND. And also my phone. Because right now we’re wedged between Navajo land (where they observe daylight savings time), and Utah (on MST), and a part of Arizone that does not observe daylight savings time. WHO CAN FIGURE THIS OUT? Not Siri, not me. The interwebs are none too helpful on this matter either.

The Effects of Desert Air. I cannot stop coughing from the dust. My eyes are watering. My skin feels like ancient papyrus paper. The good side: clothes dry in about 2 seconds, and my hair has never been this frizz-free. Silver linings!!

The Fun Of Driving An RV. I feel so powerful, y’all. And it’s a lot less boring than driving a car.

Mudslides In The Big Sur. Should have seen this coming, because apparently it’s been a problem all year, but we can’t drive the Pacific Coast Highway through the Big Sur; it’s closed from all the mud slides. But that’s OKAY! We ended up with a slightly different route that still gives us some good PCH time and also shaves some time off our trip (allowing us to have LESS rushing around – score!). More silver linings!

More to come, y’all! This trip is indeed epic and overwhelming and utterly worth it and exhausting and incredible.

. . . . . 

You can follow along on our trip day by day on Instagram (hint: most of the action is in my Insta stories): @emilylapishphotog

 

Previous Road Trip posts:

Prepping For Our Trip

Packing Do’s and Don’ts

 

 

 

 

 

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Emily Lapish is a full-time photographer, wife, mom, and crazy person. She likes long walks through Target while cradling a latte. She is fueled by passion for restoration, grace, and also by obscene amounts of coffee. 

To book a free consultation or inquire about a session, click here.

 

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We’re on Day 10 of our month-long Epic US road trip, and I finally feel like I’m getting a bit of a handle on life on the road. In case you’re not up to speed, the five of us Lapishes and our two dogs are packed into a 28 ft Class C motorhome making a big loop around the country. I’m reflecting today on how to pack to get the most out of the journey (and the space!). If you’re packing for a glamorous beach getaway, or a business trip in a big city, or a weekend at the in-law’s, you probably won’t get much out of this post (sorry!!). But if you’re looking for tips on packing for a long trip with kids (light on the glamour), then read on. 

First of all, can we all agree that “Don’ts” is just a rotten word, from a linguist point of view? I want to put an apostrophe after the “t” but I CAN’T. I don’t like it. The end.

Ahem. Now that that’s out of the way…

DO create a capsule wardrobe.

Capsule wardrobes are your friend. And fortunately, there’s approximately 957,475,518 posts on Pinterest about how to build them. Bottom line: say yes to pieces that can mix and match in a maximum number of ways. And obviously take into account what you’ll be doing: i.e. nice restaurant/outing? Throw in the appropriate outfit. Bonus points if it’s an outfit constructed from pieces you can wear for other more casual events as well. Also, this is common sense, but DON’T forget to pack all the required underthings for said outfit (strapless bra, shoes, Spanx, etc). Not that I’ve ever done that myself, mind you…(*cough cough*).

DO pack smart. 

There’s no one right way to actually pack your crap for a trip, but what has worked for us with our specific situation (starting from home with all our things in our car, driving a full day to another state to pick up our RV, then unpacking our stuff and living in the RV for a month) is this:

  • We packed enough clothes for one week for each of us (which enabled us to use small bags instead of big suitcases – space saving win).
  • For actually packing up the clothes, packing cubes. These are the ones I have, and they are great for organizing and packing everything from socks/underwear to games/activities. We used them for categories of clothes (“Sam’s t-shirts,” “Charlie’s socks,” etc) then packed them into one bigger bag for each one of us. Now that we’re unpacked with our clothes squeezed into tiny cabinets, this system makes it MUCH easier to locate the clothing item you need at any given time. Economical hack: use gallon sized ziplocks instead.
  • For most non-clothing items, plastic bins with lids are perfection. I have small ones for kids’ gadgets, a huge one for non-perishable food items, and everything in between. They’re stackable, and fit well in the under-cabin storage of the RV.

This was my Target cart when prepping for the trip. Don’t judge.

DON’T bring all your makeup/skincare.

There’s just not room, OK? You’ll be fine. Deep breaths.

It’s actually really fun to limit yourself to say, two lipstick colors, one blush, and a tiny eyeshadow palette. You can get creative with the looks and matching with your outfits. Too girly? OK, I’m done, I promise. 

Just DON’T forget to bring sunscreen. That’s not the skincare item to skimp on. This one is my personal favorite. It’s especially good for packing light because it’s tinted, so it does double duty in your makeup bag.

DO trust your instincts.

I did a lot of research on what to pack and what to leave at home. I read things that said “don’t bring bikes or scooters because they take up space and you probably won’t use them.” I’m SO GLAD we brought the boys’ scooters. Every night when we get to our campground, they grab them and go exploring together. It gives them some independence in what is otherwise (for them) a very prescribed daily schedule. Plus, they fold up nice and small and fit neatly into the under-cabin storage, so NBD.

Also in my research, I relied heavily on posts by Emily Jones of Jones Design Company who was on a similar (but longer) road trip. I love her blog, and REALLY loved her insights about their trip. In one of her posts, she said she regretted not bringing even just a small bin of Legos for the kids. So I got a small Sterilite bin for each kid, outfitted each with a label denoting who is belonged to, and had them fill them with their favorite Legos. They’ve been INVALUABLE in helping retain some normalcy and keep away the “I’m bored”‘s (in ten days, I have yet to hear anyone say that dreaded phrase. Knock on wood.).

DON’T overpack technology.

In the early stages of planning, we kicked around the idea of bringing the xbox. I mean, you know there will come a time in a trip this long where it would be a relief (to everyone) to plug in the video games for awhile. But I’m so glad we didn’t. Each kid does have a device to play/read on/etc, but their screen time is more limited on this trip. Right now as I type, they’re all three voluntarily buried in a book. Does that happen at home? RARELY.

Also – and this is going to sound crazy – don’t overpack cameras. I have a go-pro mounted on the dashboard for some fun travel video, and we have our iPhones, and I have my two work cameras, and I packed my Instax. But it can be a little overwhelming and hard to exist in the moment when I’m juggling 14 cameras. So, you know, just cool it a little.

. . . . . 

I’ve got a Q&A post in the works, so I’ll (hopefully) be posting again soon (Lord willing and the wifi holds out). You can follow along on our trip day by day on Instagram: @emilylapishphotog

 

Previous Road Trip post:

Prepping For Our Trip

 

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Emily Lapish is a full-time photographer, wife, mom, and crazy person. She likes long walks through Target while cradling a latte. She is fueled by passion for restoration, grace, and also by obscene amounts of coffee. 

To book a free consultation or inquire about a session, click here.

 

 

 

 

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You may have heard on my various social media accounts, or if you’ve been anywhere near me in the past several months, but the Lapish crew is headed out on the open road in 10 days. We’re packing the three boys and two dogs into the car, driving to Pensacola, picking up a rented RV, and hitting the road for a month to see the country. To say we’re excited is an understatement; my 8 year old told me yesterday, “If we don’t leave soon I am going to EXPLODE.” I have games and books packed, notebooks full of reservation confirmations, endless lists written everywhere (“to do before we leave,” “to pack,” “to see/do along the way,” “capsule wardrobe” for each family member, etc). SO MUCH TO DO BEFORE MAY 25, y’all.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about our trip, so I thought I’d answer a few of them here, and let you know how you can follow along on our journey. Ready?

Where all are you going?

We’re starting in Pensacola, then on to New Orleans, then Houston, Austin, Lubbock, Albuquerque, Mesa Verde, Antelope Canyon/Horseshoe Bend, The Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, up the Pacific Coast Highway to McWay Falls/Monterey, San Francisco, Sonoma, Yosemite, Salt Lake City, Cheyenne, Fort Collins, through Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, and back to Pensacola (gotta return that RV!).

How do you plan something like that? 

With a lot of guts and grace. There are so many unknowns; I’ve had to learn to let go of my need to control every detail. Roadtrippers.com is an awesome resource, and I’ve done most of my planning there. Pinterest has been great for helping me find blogs by people who have done this kind of thing before. I’ve left a few “flex days” in our schedule to accommodate for things like unpredictable traffic, tired cranky kiddos, and tired cranky parents (let’s hope to avoid those things!!).How come you can just take off for a whole month??

I work from home and make my own schedule. McGee works remotely and can work anywhere there’s data/wifi. So we’ll both be working from the road (some days; we’ve worked in vacation days throughout to help us relax and bond and enjoy the journey). I’ve booked sessions all along the way (which makes this trip tax deductible, and also helps finance it!), and I can’t wait to photograph families in new and fun locations.

As far as the kids are concerned, we’re leaving the same day they get out of school, so no one is missing any school, sports, or activities.

^^^My actual husband on an actual family outing during spring break, kicking ass and taking names on the clock.

The dogs are coming with us, and Cersei the cat (“squish” of #squishandpup) will be holding down the fort at home (she’ll be well looked after!! Don’t worry!!). We will miss our cozy house, but it will be looked after faithfully. 

How will you do laundry?

I have a big bag of quarters and a bin of detergent. Every RV park we’re staying in has laundry facilities, so we’ll have plenty of opportunities to keep clean. 🙂

Speaking of keeping clean…How do you plan on keeping clean?

Our RV has a shower! YAY!!! Also, we’ll have shower facilities every night at the campgrounds – so plenty of showering venues.
What about food? 

The RV has a full (TINY) kitchen, with microwave, oven, stovetop, fridge, and freezer. We’ll be doing plenty of cooking for ourselves. But never fear – we will be dining out from time to time to enjoy the local cuisine! True story: as I looked through all my lists of “must do” items in the main cities we’re exploring, somewhere around half of the items were local donut shops. So apparently we’re making an epic tour of the nation’s best donut establishments. I WILL REPORT ALL MY FINDINGS. I take this job very seriously. What about sleeping arrangements? 

There’s a “master bedroom” in the back of the RV that will, obviously, be for the hubs and me. In the main living area, there is a loft over the two front seats, and the dinette converts to a double bed. We’ll let the kids work out amongst themselves who sleeps where. And just like at home, I’m sure the dogs will be in bed with us.

How do you plan what to pack? 

Space is extremely limited, so I’m packing as minimalistically as possible. I’ve been using the Stylebook app to help me visualize outfits and what pieces would be most versatile to pack. I’m an EXTREMELY visual person, so just writing down what clothes items to take isn’t sufficient for me. In the app, you can put together outfits based on the items in your closet, see stats about usage, and make packing lists. It’s a visual learner/OCD sufferer’s dream come true.
As far as other stuff goes, my priorities are Things That Keep Us Entertained and Things That Are Strictly Necessary For Life. Everything else falls by the wayside. In the first category, I have a packing cube just for games, which includes Uno, several decks of playing cards, the Minecraft card game, the Oregon Trail card game, our Tabletopics set (we seriously love this), The Game of Things, and a few other random games. We have a case of art supplies. Each kid has a bin with their own things; top items include Harry Potter wands, notebooks, favorite legos, and headlamps. Diverse, I know. We also have a bin of playdough, bubble wands for stress relief, a giant beach frisbee, sand toys, and goggles for all the pool time. 

Strictly Necessary For Life includes every medicine known to man (let’s please avoid all Urgent Care visits, kthanxbai), chargers for all devices, daytimer, reservation notebook, first aid, flashlights, Eno hammocks (last Christmas will forever be known as The Christmas of The Eno Hammock, as every relative we have accidentally bought us the same thing. We love them!!), laundry supplies, dog food/leashes/toys, and of course, our clothes. The RV is fully stocked with linens and kitchen utensils, which is a huge relief not to have to worry about.

Where will you be staying? 

Mostly campgrounds with RV hookups. We have a KOA membership, which isn’t the most luxurious way to stay, but they consistently have pools, showers, and laundry facilities, so sign me up. 

How can I follow along? 

I’ll be Instagramming quite a bit. I plan to use a LOT of IG stories/IG live to share along the way, but also traditional posts. I’ll be blogging as well (fingers crossed, anyway! Blogging sometimes eludes me) right here.

I need a hashtag to keep all our trip posts organized and easily accessible – any thoughts?? Please suggest some! If we choose your suggestion, you’ll get one of our trip photos (your pick!) as an art print. Leave your suggestions below in the comments!

To be continued….

 

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  • Val

    #wanderlustinglapishesReplyCancel

  • Bekah Larson

    Trip title ideas (since you have young wizards):

    Stellaradventuresmugglestyle
    Or
    Destroyingdementorseverymile
    Or
    Dumbledoresarmyonvacation
    Or
    Pursuingtheflightytemptress_Adventure (Dumbledore quote)

    Or to go Brene brown route: wildadventuresinvulnerability

    Toodles.
    BekahReplyCancel

There is no greater joy for me as an artist than documenting in-home life with real families. This one was no different – the breezy curtains, the dreamy light, the cuddles and snuggles and slow pace of life with a baby. I love it.

Enjoy. xo
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emily lapish photography

 

Emily Lapish is a full-time photographer, wife, mom, and crazy person. She likes long walks through Target while cradling a latte. She is fueled by passion for restoration, grace, and also by obscene amounts of coffee. 

To book a free consultation or inquire about a session, click here.

 

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