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Family photographer Danielle Guenther gets the struggle that is parenting.

As a mom herself, she lives and loves the daily grind. Sure, she relishes those occasional picture-perfect moments, but she also relates to those very realmoments her clients experience before, during, and after she takes family photos.

It was after one such family photo shoot that she decided to capture a real moment.

The mom "just sort of laid down in complete exhaustion," Guenther told me in a phone interview. Then the dad collapsed next to the mom on the couch. Guenther thought it was funny and they came up with the idea to add a few props and take a more realistic family photo right then and there. She titled it "Parenting Is Exhausting." (Isn't that the truth?!) When she posted it to her business Facebook page, "people went crazy for it," she said. "They were relating."


"Parenting Is Exhausting." Don't panic — it's apple juice in the wine glass! (See that jug of Mott's in front?) What parent hasn't felt this exhausted before? This is the photo Guenther described above — the first in her series. All photos belong to Danielle Guenther Photography and are shared here with Guenther's permission.

It was the opposite of all those nearly flawless pics we flood Facebook and Instagram with. And Guenther could see the very real need parents have to connect to these more authentic experiences.

And that's how her photo series "Best Case Scenario" was born.

In addition to or even in place of traditional family photos, Guenther takes staged but oh-so-real pictures for her clients. Guenther gets to know each family, and, based on their lives, she creates a moment in time for the perfectly imperfect shot.

They're hilarious and relatable, and she shared "Parenting Is Exhausting" and 18 other gems with us. Enjoy!

1. Rush Hour

Getting out the door in the morning is an exercise in patience.

2. The Escape Plan

You don't get those parenting stripes until you've army-crawled out of your baby's room to avoid being spotted.

3. She Got the Bug

Nope. Parents don't get sick days ... just bigger messes to clean up when they're feeling better.

4. Welcome to Our World

Multitasking: a parenting survival skill.

5. Playdate (in)Sanity

Now this is my kind of lemonade stand.

6. Why Did the Parents Cross the Road?

Family life = chaos.

7. Oh No...

We've all been there: The baby has finally fallen asleep, and you're deathly afraid to move to reach the thing you want to keep you entertained.

8. Day at the Spa

There's no such thing as showering alone and/or in peace when you have small children.

9. Got Milk ... Yet?

'Nuff said.

10. Fully Loaded

This is why it's easier to do laundry after everyone's in bed.

11. Just Another Mouth to Feed

Those tiny sleep thieves leave parents vulnerable to exhaustion-induced errors.

12. One Year Later...

Guenther photographed the family in photo #11 one year later. Looks about right.

13. Cleanup on Aisle 5

Grocery shopping with three young kids in tow isn't for the faint of heart.

14. Check Please!

That moment at a restaurant when your kids lose their minds and even if they're normally well-behaved, nothing works. You cannot. Get. The. Check. Fast. Enough.

15. Keep Your Head in the Game

Warning: Cooking with babies could result in dangerous mistakes. "They had this awesome sense of humor," Guenther said of the family in this photo. "It was near Thanksgiving and they wanted it for their holiday card. I was laughing hysterically with them. I knew [the photo] had to be funny and quirky." Mission accomplished.

16. Loser Unpacks It All

Moving pre-kids? Not so much fun. Moving with kids? Ugggghhhh.

17. Breakfast in Bed

'Cause there's no such thing as a "relaxing family vacation."

18. Hold on a Sec

That moment when one parent is juggling everything and the other is casually checking their phone. We've all been in both positions!

I know I could relate to more than a few of these photos, and that's what makes them so great.

Guenther loves being a photographer — and the different types of photos she takes. It's a passion that comes through in her work.

"Usually on photo shoots, parents say, 'Oh I'm sorry my kids are misbehaving,'" she told me. "It's OK! These are kids. This is what they do. It's nice to have wholesome, beautiful photos … but it's also just as refreshing to see something falling apart in front of you. This is reality."

And every parent on earth knows firsthand how real parenting can get.

"I think my favorite part about these is that social media often makes even the everyday moments seem perfect," Guenther told me. "But we know better."

She said that even though these photos capture the imperfect side of parenting, "it's also so beautiful when you photograph it. I know I don't want to forget these moments. I want to remember them — even when they're complete chaos."

Because that's what parenting is about — the highs, the lows, and the moments between.

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