Have you ever seen pictures and just wanted to hop right into them, a la Mary Poppins?! That is how I feel about this family session by Jonathan Canlas. The way he captures every detail makes you feel like you could smell, taste, see, touch everything that was going on before you.  This shoot is a little bit of a trip down memory lane and a whole lot of new memories captured.

The backstory on this shoot is sad, but life.  The family is Krjsten Madsen‘s  (remember her genius of a feature here?).  Kjrsten’s mom, Val,  has terminal cancer.  This  is how Kjrsten tells the story:

“my mom LOVES hawaii (don’t we all?) and we usually go as a family every spring, but this year she was too sick to make the trip so we brought it to her…since she won’t be around much longer (a few months the doctors say), we called it her “ALOHA” party, (hello, goodbye, and we love you). This might sound odd to outsiders but we have been watching her fight cancer for years now so we are used to talking openly about it like that.”

To tell this family’s story,  Jonathan Canlas started at places where the Dan and Val Dyer (Krjsten’s mom and dad) hung out when they were dating, think Frisco Freeze,  and then moved on to each house they lived in as a married couple and raised their six children.  Then he went on to shoot the giant party of a Luau at their house in Tacoma, Washington attended by their six kids and their spouses and children.  That makes for 2 parents, 6 kids, 5 spouses of kids, and 12 grandkids.  Quite a party.

As for the luau itself, “The whole party was pretty in-house… the decor and the food included. My sister Anna is a culinary expert and did all the dinner, and my little sister Marion is a baker and made pink Guava cake for desert. We had polynesian dancers come and do some traditional dances, then they taught us some sweet hula moves afterwards. The dinner was followed by a family swim and s’mores by the fire.”

And a fantastic time was had by all, as well documented by Mr. Canlas.


I am sure these fantastic photographs will be treasured by the family forever.  Sometimes life slows down and really lets you know how important family is and its a gift to have these photographs to remember.

And in case you were wondering, because I was, those cute rainbow balls?  Just cupcake liners glued to foam.  And the woman’s very cute striped dress?  H&M.  (Darn, not in Hawaii).



Tory + Wendy



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *