Dreamy Family Portraits in Carley Summers’ Home

August 11, 2023


There’s a palpable magic in Carley Summers’ home. It’s almost inexplicable. As much as I tried to capture it on film, it’s something that can only truly be understood with experience. It was possibly the first time I’ve ever witnessed each and every furnishing having a purpose—one of crafting an environment where real conversations can happen, and where you feel utterly safe having them.

For those of you like me who are endlessly inspired by a timeless, layered approach to interior design, you’ve likely come across Carley’s work. Her designs have graced every big-name design platform you can think of, bringing a fresh perspective to classic interiors. Carley’s eye is iconic to say the least.

And while I was most definitely drooling over every inch of her North Carolina home, it wasn’t the design that impressed me most. It was Carley, Jon, and Max—who they are as a family, how far God has brought Carley, and the redemption that is her marriage and motherhood. Their presence in that gorgeous abode transformed its walls from a mere dwelling into a sanctuary. It’s clear Carley’s designs are for living, not just for looking, and that the Summers live fully within their home.

Carley and Jon invited us into their home on a warm June evening. We had dreamt of working together for quite some time. In fact, images bounced around in my head for what felt like years. I’ve learned that being a photographer—an intentional one—is having a vision for the images you’ll craft while leaving space for the ones you could have never predicted. Photographing Max climbing underneath the “island” was one of those delightfully unpredictable moments.

As with any in-home session, we let the Summers be the Summers. Carley donned a stunning set from Doen, while Max and Jon coordinated in striped linen attire. We spent most of our time in the heart of their home, the kitchen, as sunlight poured in through the windows. Max even snuck a few bites of the bouquet of chamomile on display (a fairly common occurrence from what I’m told). Jon pulled out his guitar in the sunroom—the very sunroom Carley’s parents would pray over her with their neighbor, the former homeowner.

Documenting families is such an intimate, unique occurrence. No two families look the same. And so, no two family sessions look the same, either. I’ve found the best approach to photographing families is an honest one, leaving them with heirlooms that unlock an innate understanding of who their family is while also sparking curiosity.

It’s the “Oh, yes! There’s Dad’s squinty smile we adore” and also the “Wait, I played under the kitchen island?” we’re after. Conversation pieces. Time capsules. Keys that unlock a treasure trove of stories.

On that early summer evening, we did just that—light flashed across my film and quite literally ingrained these moments into history. We created the conversation pieces. We added to their family’s archive of memories. Yes, these are some of my personal favorite images to date, but I love them more for the responsibility they carry to tell the story of Carley and Jon Summers’ home honestly, intimately, and timelessly.

Carley Summers in-home session with the Summers family on the floor of their kitchen
Carley Summers in her kitchen with her son Max
Carley Summers kisses her husband while their son sits on the countertop during their in-home session
Carley Summers plays with her son underneath their kitchen island on black and white film
A family session in Carley Summers home with Carley and Jon's one year old son, Max
Peeking out the windows of Carley Summers' home while they play with their son in the backyard
A portrait of Carley Summers next to her son in their backyard
Carley Summers laying in the grass with her son in a Doen set
A lifestyle portrait of Carley and Jon Summers in their home watching their son eat a snack
The Summers family playing in the kitchen of Carley Summers home
A lifestyle portrait of Carley Summers in her home in North Carolina through the exterior of her kitchen window
Little boy playing in the curtains at Carley Summers' home
A lifestyle portrait in Carley Summers home of her and her husband with their son in the kitchen
A lifestyle portrait of the Summers family in Carley Summers home through the exterior of their kitchen window

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My heartbeat is crafting artful, intentional images for the most important moments of your life.

fine art wedding and portrait photographer