While in Pensacola shooting a wedding recently, we were able to catch up with a few people who hold a truly special place in our hearts. As we walked up, I very unexpectedly heard, “Hi Kay-ee” from the little three-year-old I hadn’t seen in over a year, and my heart was in a puddle of mush on the floor.

This little project has been on my mind for a while, so seeing it come to fruition has left me with big smiles and a full heart. Shane, pictured in the green shirt, is another Marine and member of 3rd Force Recon with Preston. I met Shane just before meeting these beautiful people I blogged about recently, and he’s been a true, close friend to both Preston and I for the past six years. The truest of true.

Apart from being a beautiful friend and an accomplished Reconnaissance Marine, I’ve watched Shane instantly become the most perfect father over the past three years to the most well-mannered, stylish toddler I’ve ever had the pleasure of dancing the night away with. Yes, Leo took me on a “date” after our session for a little dinner and dancing. If you’ve never spent the night dancing with a three-year-old, I warn you, it will fill your heart with giggles and the best memories. I’m pretty sure Leo will steal your heart through these photos with his boyish good looks and generous dishing out of his love, just as he did mine.

Here’s where my “little project” came in. I mentioned to Shane that apart from capturing he and Leo, it was on my mind to have his dad in some of the photos. Shane’s dad, Pat, is a Vietnam Veteran and retired Reconnaissance Marine also. Pat was a machine gunner with Lima Company in 1969, then he was with 1st Recon Battalion in the 70’s. How cool is that?! Two generations of Recon and one ultra adorable little boy from the third…of course this needed documentation. Not to mention, we’ve known Pat almost as long as we’ve known Shane, and I know exactly where Shane learned to be such a pro-active, caring father.

And just in case you thought every family photo had to be perfectly posed, I’m here to assure you that, much like life, sometimes there’s just as much beauty in the more unkempt ones.This one below may not be perfect, but it’s more likely the one that would get framed in my house! It’s an, umm…”conversational piece.” You see what I mean? This little boy has my heart overflowing, as he clearly does to all of those who surround him.

And this beautiful soul here? Well, this is Brooke. When you meet her, you feel the love radiating from her bubbly, mindful aura. There’s something about a beautiful, smiling female–on that you know has a truly happy soul–that creates a more beautiful photo than anything else on Earth, to me. Brooke, your generous persona and the fulfillment I can see that you clearly bring to this family has left my heart so full.

Shane, Brooke, Pat, and sweet Leo, having the pleasure of doing life with beautiful friends like you gives me so much faith and fulfillment. Six years is only the beginning of the lifetime of adventures, love, and memories I hope Preston and I continue to create with you.