Whoever invented the idea of ‘going to your happy place’ wasn’t really dreaming large enough. I’m pretty sure that in this day and age we all need a catalog of happy places we can actually manage to hop in a car or on a bike and get to when we need to deal with the catalog of unhappy moments that we all wish we didn’t have. For me, when my house is out of control, I go to my happy place in Uptown, Paper Source. Something about rows and rows of perfectly stacked, smooth and tidy paper, lined up according to hue and texture, completely calms me down. I can stand there with a coffee and pretend my life is as organized, categorized, and color-coordinated. But Paper Source really only calms the messy-house nerves (and at some point they make you leave). What about the computer crashing? The cold no one shook off for the month of September? The amazing friends you haven’t seen since your baby was half his current size? The okay-this-isn’t-cute-anymore one-sided toddler food fights? For me there is a gotta-get-away place that doesn’t require a plane flight, a long-term savings plan, or even much forethought at all: Camp Van Vac in Ely, MN.
Van Vac is one of those places that, upon arrival, your blood pressure instantly drops. Your shoulders relax, your mind wanders, and your nose remembers what true nature smells like. The thick woods, the clean lake water, the quaint log cabin, all combine their charms into a perfect up north moment. If you’re lucky that moment will last for at least a few days.
The charms of Van Vac are many, but part of the pull is the incredible lack of fussiness. Within all of the adorable log cabins is a mash-up of old thrift store dishes and furniture, seemingly from any one of the last ten decades. The bed loudly creaks a warm welcome when you sit on it, the glazed enamel tea pot stopped whistling years ago but gets the job done right, and the oilcloth table covering is bright and colorful, but hardly chic. There appears to be no attempt to keep the place modern or hip, which is incredibly refreshing to a brain that needs to just turn off for a few days of cards, row boats, bonfires, and wildlife. Van Vac is our catch-all happy place, over-flowing with calm and coziness, and always there no matter what the world throws at you…
How to turn this into a shoot? Like Weddings, family portraits can become more meaningful if the details are also captured in addition to the people. Whether those details are a part of a location that is special to a family (such as a family cabin, a favorite park, or at home), or just a photo shoot at an interesting location (such as a pumpkin patch or out building a snowman), adding these details to your session can make a more meaningful collection of portraits. These detail shots combine beautifully for photo albums and for grouped framed art. Please talk to us about including these shots in your family session.