There are moments as a photographer where I’ve had to take a step back and just smile and take in the incredible moments I get to not only experience, but get to document. Stories I get to tell. All filled with emotion, joy, legacy, and milestones. And being able to document sweet baby Daxon’s first birthday was one of those times.
Before we get into this emotional and memorable first birthday session; if you are looking at these images thinking “Do I know them?” The answer is “Yes, that is Sydel Curry-Lee (content creator, mental health advocate, podcast host, super mom, amongst many other things) who is married to NBA star Damion Lee of the Phoenix Suns (formerly Golden State Warriors).
Now that we’ve cleared that up, Sydel and I had been talking about scheduling a photoshoot for Daxon’s first birthday for some time now (we have previously worked together on several other shoots including maternity, newborn and 6 month session). So naturally, I was over the moon to round out Daxon’s first year with a birthday photoshoot. But between her family moving from San Francisco to Phoenix, Damion leaving the Golden State Warriors and joining the Phoenix Suns, along with both of their busy work and travel schedules, it was proving to be much harder than we had anticipated narrowing down a time to actually schedule a date. Knowing it would be hard to come back to the Bay Area for the shoot, Sydel decided to bring me to her in Phoenix where we were able to spend an amazing day in their new home celebrating Daxon.
Sydel, who has been very open about her fertility and IVF journey on Instagram (you can see here), had been very excited and full of anticipation for this shoot. Sydel and Damion’s emotional ride to become parents had been 100% worth it. And now, they were celebrating their son’s first birthday, and I was there to document the culmination of this wondrous year. I was so excited to document and celebrate this beautiful boy of theirs.
We basically got through three different sessions in one day and we had so much fun.
We started out with a solo portrait session for Daxon with a custom-made backdrop I made (and somehow pulled together with only three days’ notice) of photos from Daxon’s first year of life. I want to pause here real quick and say, getting to look through all these images of Daxon and his first year of life and knowing what a journey his parents had been on and how much they prayed for him was an emotional and moving experience for me.
We chose to do a mix of professional photos (from previous shoots we had done together) along with more candid captures Sydel and Damion had taken on their camera phones. Sydel made sure to include everyone’s photos which were an important part of Daxon’s first year of life and made it all the more special.
After this, we moved onto part two of the days’ sessions – family photos. Their attire was so cozy and fitting for the space, especially with the coziest sofa that you literally melt into! I loved the warm light that dappled through the trees and enveloped their living room.
We then moved to the backyard for some fun moments between Daxon and their adorable Husky, Nobu, and Goldendoodle, Quavo.
Quavo was extra excited to be a part of the shoot, as you can see, hah!
Daxon was running all around the yard (yes, running at 11 months, he is definitely his father’s son), chasing after a ball as mom and dad chased after him. The weather was perfect and everything felt really natural.
In between our sessions, I was uploading images onto my computer and was giving Sydel little sneaks, and I could see how overwhelmed with happiness and joy Sydel was, saying “I’m going to cry!”
As the day started to come to a close, we finished up a cake smash session back inside. We weren’t sure how he would like the cake – which is often the case – since most babies have never tasted cake or frosting prior to their 1st birthdays. He didn’t care for the taste of it much, but he did enjoy playing with the cake, getting a little messy, and feeding mom and dad.
Honestly, working with Sydel and Damion has been nothing short of honor. Not only have they been some of the most fun and easiest clients to work with, always down for any idea I have, but they have been the most generous, kind and down to earth people. Damion even had me cancel my Uber and drove me to the airport himself.
Being so close to this family and getting to document this season of Sydel and Damion’s life has been really special for me. I’m so honored they continue to trust me to capture their growing family.