18 realistic family photos. Because we know parenting isn't picture-perfect.

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 real moments 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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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