Whether it’s for a big fancy occasion or a small intimate dinner, there’s something magical about a gathering amongst friends. To be in the company of people that matter most – who know all your quirks and laugh at your jokes – it’s a wonderful feeling. A close friend had us over for dinner in early July to celebrate my birthday complete with a beautiful bottle of South African wine and candles ready to be lit! They know me well. White wine in summer. Olives, sausage and cheese. Red velvet cake. Garden wine walk to check on the flowers. How could the evening not be complete?


With my camera hanging at my side and my Smartphone nearby, these friends let me do my thing. I snap away, and they expect it. For three years I’ve been capturing our get-togethers starting in 2011 with my 365. They have two small daughters, and I swear the girls love watching me photograph the evening as much as I love shooting it! Asking me to take more and wanting to see the results. Showing off their drawing skills and newfound love of letters. Pointing out to me all the dainty details to shoot.


But my friend and I – we love these photos of our gatherings for a different reason. They chronicle not only our celebrations but also the passage of time by child height, motor skills and hair length. As the night progresses, I situate myself in the middle capturing candids of us as the night progresses. Food, drinks, and little feet. Flowers, cats and place cards at dinner.

While editing my photos from last month’s birthday dinner, I was struck by how many times I captured language in along the way. How many times I opened my heart to look beyond the obvious – food, flowers and cake, which of course I photographed too. But it was those dainty details of our evening framed by communication and words. My special name tag telling me where to sit. The bottle of wine we’ll both search for again. The self-portrait drawn in chalk now immortalized by my camera. All of these things would be gone now except for my instincts to shoot them.


How about you? Do you shoot the special occasions of your life? What details do you like to shoot? Do you find yourself capturing language too? Share with us in comments. I’d love to hear what you think!

Holly  |  Gatherings through the Lens

ps. I kept the bottle. It was too beautiful to resist!

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My new e-course Gatherings through the Lens starts on August 28th where I’ll show you how to capture captivating captures at all of life’s gatherings! I’d love to see you in class!