Fall Family Session // The Rucker Family


This family session holds a special place in my heart. I feel like I’ve already said that about a couple sessions/weddings, but this one goes deeper! In this family session, I was photographing my former boss with her family.

Let me take you wayyyy back. To before I became a wedding photographer, before I moved to D.C., even before I was in college! I want to go back to when I was 16. My very first job was manning the front counter register at a McDonalds. Yup, I was a McCrew Member. Eventually I moved to being a drive-thru girl. At one point, my manager Kenny trained me at the fries station. In a short time, I began to whip out fresh fries during crazy busy lunch hours like you wouldn’t believe. But that’s beside the point.

The Back-Story

The franchise owner of the McDonalds I worked at was a super bubbly, friendly elder man named Larry! He would come in with his booming “How you?” in his thick southern accent and greet every one of us with a pat on the back. Usually following not far behind his heels was his daughter Amanda, who now owns the McDonalds since Larry’s recent retirement.

Amanda is very hands on, and always worked hard to make our store a clean, well-oiled machine. From the time I joined on orientation day, we made a connection. She pointed to my tote bag that I used to carry my belongings in. The tote had a sheet music design on the front with the words to a church hymn. When I first met Amanda, she pointed to my bag and asked, “Do you love Jesus?” I nodded and she answered, “I love Jesus, too.”

My Boss Was Also My Friend

From then on, we had many side conversations on my shifts about faith, work relationships, work ethics, church, etc. She became a friend, and I respected her so much as my boss.

I worked at that McDonald’s for nearly four years. After just a year, I was promoted to Crew Trainer. I was responsible for training new employees and keeping everyone accountable to corporate policies and procedures. Then another year passes and Amanda moves me to their second store to be a manager. I loved working for her, even though I knew this wouldn’t be my job forever. When I left for college, she and Larry always welcomed me back during school holidays. I was even welcomed back after graduating, and I stayed until I found a job about two months later.

From McD’s to DC

Fast forward to now… It’s been about 2 years since I worked for her, but she kept in touch with me and my parents. She has been following my story as I began building Emily Nicole Photography. And she booked a family session with me even though I lived all the way in D.C. I was more than glad to make the trip home for her!!

I loved photographing her sweet family. Reconnecting with both her and her husband Simon, and also seeing her two little ones was so special for me. I remember going to her baby shower when she was pregnant with her son Eli. I loved being able to hold him as a baby when she brought him by on my shifts at McD. Then, Anna was born and I met her for the first time after I already got another job post-graduating. Now I got to laugh and play with them and get them to run around with their parents for photos!

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Mommy and me portraits, baby girl, hugging mom, mother daughter picture
Married Couple Portrait, walking pose

I love all of their images, and it’s not only because they just look like a model family from a retail magazine. But because I felt like my story was connecting back to some of its roots. I was using my new career and passion to serve people who helped shape me and teach me what it’s like to love people and give 110% in your job no matter what it is!

After the session, my parents invited them home with me for a coffee and donuts breakfast. When Amanda left afterward, she turned to me and my parents and said, “I am really proud of you and all you’re doing. I love being able to brag that I helped raise you.” She was joking at the last bit, but Amanda, if you read this, I hope you know that you did help raise me. Mom and Dad did most of the work, but you taught me in a very specific area of my life… work. To this day, I still say you were the best boss I ever had! I hope one day I run my business with the same love and respect towards my clients that you gave your people. I can’t wait to see you again soon!

If you want gorgeous family session of your own, I still offer family sessions!! Send me a message on my “General” Contact form here to ask about pricing and details. I’d love to meet you!

Prepping for a family session and need more outfit inspo? Check out my Pinterest board full of my favorite combinations!

Xx Emily

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