Photos of the Cooley Family

“My truest passion is to capture and remember life as it is. The rawness and the honesty mixed with the pure emotion of what our lives have to offer.” Shelby Resler, photographer

As a mom committed to memory making and keeping, I take a lot of photos of our family and get a lot of photos taken – snapshots and formal portraits. I love Mamarazzi pictures like Mandi’s or Kathryn’s Mommy Swap photo shoot. I buy all the school pictures, send them out to relatives, and even get them on our walls – canvases (I especially like the CanvasOnDemand groupon) and frames litter our house.

But nothing has ever thrilled me like our photography sessions with Shelby Resler. 

She spends about an hour at our house documenting our story. As she puts it, “I choose to capture whatever I want, when I want or when you want me to. My goal for myself during each session and my hope for you is to help you see those real and pure moments that you never want to forget, those that you may look past on a daily basis and may already be taking for granted.”

And that’s when all the feels start. The ones I don’t notice until she helps me see them. And I’m crying at the beauty that is my life.

Three year old holding six mos old - close up of their hands.

Our three-year-old’s hands wrapped around the baby.


Close up of baby's mouth with drool

The baby’s drool.


four year old sitting on his knees on wooden kitchen chair with toes peeking out the back and bottom of the chair. Only lower back is visible

Sweet tucked toes.


Mom and Simon (6 mos). Mom is looking at baby and baby is smiling at camera

A photo of myself with our son as I want to look: not fat and messy and tired (and all the unflattering reasons I don’t like my own picture), but pretty and happy and in love. The magic of Shelby is that she helps me see me for what I really am – this mom here, not that one I picture from my self-deprecating inside voice. She finds the true me and then offers this gift so I can remind myself for years to come of how I truly was because that inside voice can be loud and I need this photo to push her away.

Shelby captures the everyday things I’m desperately afraid I might forget – the tumble of stuffed animals and blankets and bunk beds or the way our kids “touch noses.” 

Three boys sitting on the bottom bunk of bunk beds, hugging animals. Middle boy is touching noses with older boy. Youngest boy is snuggling to the back of middle child.

Will I always remember Ruffy the puppy or Ow-Ow the owl?

As I run from cleaning toothpaste out of the sink to breakfast prep, I don’t know if I even see the boys playing with the baby in the mirror. Without this photo to tug at my thoughts, will I remember we called collared shirts “handsome shirts?”

Four boys are standing in front of a large mirror. You can see their faces reflected in the mirror except for the baby that is facing the camera but looking at his brothers.

Shelby sees that soon my other boys will be reading to themselves. Often we don’t know when that last day will come and I’ll have missed capturing story time. But she didn’t — you can even see how much they love this book.

4 boys sitting on couch with oldest reading The Book With No Pictures. Three year old is holding 6 mos. old.

If you don’t have, The Book With No Pictures, get it. It’s one of our favorites!

Years from now, will I be able to bring our messy kitchen art wall into focus?

Kitchen wall covered with various kids craft and coloring pages as well as class photo, gymnastics accomplishment charts and calendars.

Even Shelby’s “portraits” see my boys for who they truly are. We have a keepsake journal for each of our kids. One of the yearly questions is for the parent to write exactly how they remember the child at a certain age. How do I describe Oliver’s lifted eyebrows? Or Charles’ intense concentration? What about Bennett’s absolutely joyous laugh, or little Simon’s willingness to take it all in stride?

Four pictures of four different boys.

Oliver (6) Simon (6 mos) Charles (8) Bennett (3)

And, do you see Charles’ eyebrow here in this bottom left photo? Shelby photographed something she doesn’t even know. My mom was my best friend and she died from Leukemia about 10 years ago and I miss her unbelievably. Charles has her eyes – and more specifically – her eyebrows. Shelby gave me an incomparable gift – a reminder that my mom is still here. She is present in these sweet boys she would have loved so very much.

One of the reasons I am so touched by Shelby’s work is because it echos the message the pastor gave at our wedding, that often the most important things are the “in between.” Sure, Disney vacations, baseball championships and promotions are big, flashy and important, but the every day moments are where life happens. She captures those important moments. Shelby writes, “There is so much more to life if you just look a little deeper. I would love to help you see and remember that from a different perspective.” Shelby understands in between times for what they really are: the true magic of our daily lives. Shelby’s photography helps us see that magic more vividly.  

The Cooley family of 6 hugging with the littlest boys in the middle getting smooched.

Shelby sees the true life moments that are our family.

You can also contact Shelby Resler directly through her facebook page or website.


And the great news? We’re giving away a FREE mini-photo session with Shelby Resler!

*One entry per person per method of entry. Be sure to enter a separate comment for each method of entry (one comment for Facebook, one comment for Twitter, etc.).

1. COMMENT: Leave a comment below telling us the moment you’re most afraid you won’t get captured on film. It can be specific (my son’s cowlick), general (dinner time), or just because (I want some great photos like these)!

2. VOTE: Have your family and friends leave a comment with your first & last name! Every “vote” comment will earn you an extra entry!

3. TWITTER: Tweet about this giveaway!

Giveaway ends Friday, May 5, 2017. Winner is chosen randomly and will be announced as soon as they’ve accepted the prize by email. Good luck, everyone!


Quad City Moms Blog partners with local business to bring you these awesome giveaways! As part of the partnership, we received cash payment, a gift, or something else of value to write it.


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  1. Kari Ahrens April 28, 2017 at 6:38 am #

    Oh I would love to win this. I’m always behind the camera, and I would love to have some everyday photos with me (with the kids) so the kids have something tangible to remember I was there too.

  2. Kari Ahrens April 28, 2017 at 6:45 am #

    I tweeted about this here.

  3. Penny April 28, 2017 at 6:51 am #

    Kari Ahrens

  4. Jenna Martin April 28, 2017 at 6:52 am #

    Kari Ahrens

  5. Erin April 28, 2017 at 6:54 am #

    Kari Ahrens. 😊

  6. Cori B April 28, 2017 at 6:59 am #

    Kari Ahrens

  7. Hilary April 28, 2017 at 7:00 am #

    Kari Ahrens

  8. Tricia G Duhon April 28, 2017 at 7:06 am #

    Kari Ahrens

  9. Jordan Drane April 28, 2017 at 7:16 am #

    I would love everyday pictures of my daughter and I. When we are at home, I take pictures of my daughter and husband together but end up with no mommy/daughter pictures (besides the occasional selfie). I think a photo nursing, diaper changes, playing together would all be so great. I love having memories captured!

  10. Megan April 28, 2017 at 7:47 am #

    We have almost no pictures of our family as a whole. I take pictures all the time of my son and my husband, but the only ones of me are selfies of me and my son. I’m scared my son will look pack at pictures of his childhood and I won’t exist in them.

  11. Erin P. April 28, 2017 at 7:50 am #

    Kari Ahrens

  12. Mary April 28, 2017 at 7:54 am #

    I have 5 kids and we homeschool. Even though we spend all day every day together, I feel like there is still so much that I miss. My littlest one is very camera shy. I worry that a photographer wouldn’t capture her the way I see her. She does this adorable giggle where she puts her tiny hand just over her mouth. I’m determined to capture it one day, so I can remember it always. There are so many fleeting moments that we are certain we will never forget, yet we do… would love to capture just s few of those!

  13. Audrey Klumper April 28, 2017 at 8:09 am #

    KAri Ahrens

  14. Lisa Lawton April 28, 2017 at 8:33 am #

    These photos are amazing! That’s what I want to remember, the little things like how the kids curl up together sometimes (when they’re not fighting!) 😉

  15. Liz April 28, 2017 at 8:34 am #

    Kari Ahrens

  16. Erin April 28, 2017 at 8:49 am #

    Kari Ahrens

  17. Jessica Shulstad April 28, 2017 at 9:15 am #

    Kari Ahrens

  18. Amy Martens April 28, 2017 at 9:22 am #

    My boy/girl twins will be two (!) in July. They’re growing up so fast, and they’re constantly learning and are curious about new things every day. Like when they search behind the couch or crane their necks to look for kitty up the stairs, or when they “hide” behind the kitchen curtains and burst into giggles when they’re found. Or when they try to put their own shoes on because they heard mommy and daddy say the word “outside.” Or when they reach up for daddy to pick them up so he can throw them in the air and catch them, or the way daddy makes them belly-laugh when he tickles them. Or when they just want to snuggle with mommy. I’m constantly running out of room on my phone taking photos every day, but I miss so much being behind the lens. I love capturing moments so that I can always remember my little ones, exactly as they are!

  19. Brittany April 28, 2017 at 9:36 am #

    Kari Ahrens

  20. Deanna Burton April 28, 2017 at 10:05 am #

    Besides school pictures, I haven’t had any photos taken of my youngest (5) due to…life! I have 3 sweet boys so this blog resonated a ton with me. We are almost finished building our house and I would love to capture new memories there with our whole family.

  21. Meghann Fiegl April 28, 2017 at 1:07 pm #

    Kari Ahrens

  22. Keri Woodward April 28, 2017 at 2:45 pm #

    Kari Ahrens

  23. Dana Berggren April 28, 2017 at 4:58 pm #

    With the recent arrival of our second son I’m finding I’m missing out on so many photos of this stage of life. I honestly only have one good photo of our newborn!

  24. Cassie Eissinger April 28, 2017 at 5:12 pm #

    Kari Ahrens

  25. Aunt Mary April 28, 2017 at 6:35 pm #

    Kari Ahrens

  26. Angie Kendall April 28, 2017 at 7:33 pm #

    I love these shots and the story they tell. That is what I most want captured-the story of our lives. The love and laughter we share every day-not just smiles during photos but hard, can’t catch your breath out loud laughter!

  27. Danine Glascock April 28, 2017 at 8:30 pm #

    I would love to win this. My 82-year old mom is nearing the end of her life. She has spent 3 years fighting A blood disease called MDS. I wanted a family portrait with our whole family and I just never made it happen. I don’t think she should go to a portrait studio due to her weakened immune system. But a home session with all of us would be such a treasure. Family love that spans generations – that’s what I want to capture. From my elderly parents to my 3-year old grandson.

    • meghancooley
      meghancooley April 30, 2017 at 10:21 pm #

      Oh Danine, my mom was diagnosed with MDS though it ended up being Leukemia, I read so much about that relatively unknown disease – it’s a tough one. I wish you and your mom peace during her (your) fight.

  28. Jean Lee Jansen April 28, 2017 at 10:48 pm #

    Kari Ahrens

  29. Jill April 28, 2017 at 10:57 pm #

    Beautiful photos!
    I have six kids and I take a ton of the youngest, but I feel like I’m missing out on some great photo opportunities for the older five.

  30. Sheila April 28, 2017 at 11:46 pm #

    ❤️ Kari Ahrens

  31. Sarah McCoy April 29, 2017 at 8:50 am #

    The part where meghan talks about how she sees herself negatively but Shelby captures her beauty as a mom and all the bad thoughts melt away. I need that. I know I shouldn’t avoid pictures and in 20 years or less I’ll really regret not being in as amany pictures. I’d love to have Shelby capture this and remind me.

  32. Lindsay April 29, 2017 at 3:06 pm #

    I love this so much. Shelby is amazing at capturing those moments. I don’t want to forget the chaos that is our life the “mess” I see now but someday will miss.

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