Grandma + Papa // Beloved.

This past September, my sweet grandparents celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary, and they asked of I would be willing to take their photo for their Christmas card and to document this important milestone in their lives. Yes, they only wanted me to make one photograph. And well, I told them I don’t do that. Haha. I’m more of a series of photos kind of guy. So I suckered them into doing a mini-photo shoot at their home in Riverside, and in true j. shipley fashion, I busted out some beloved invites to create some authentic expression. I nearly lost it after the first frame. It hit me right then and there what an honor it was to be photographing the love between two extraordinary people after being together for 60 years! This series of images has become one of my most beloved and cherished to date and each and every photo makes my heart smile. Le sigh.

When I asked them to think of one of their favorite moments together after having been married for so long, they both started laughing hysterically. I’m not entirely sure what first had come to their minds but my grandma immediately deflected to my papa. Hah. He then recounted the time when my grandma tripped coming doing the steps on their honeymoon and went ass-over-tea-kettle. He found that to be quite hilarious and so did she. I love that about them.

My grandpa has always had the most beautiful rose garden. I can’t tell you how many times I’d find a vase of fresh roses on my grandma’s drainboard when I’d visit. Luckily, there was a lone, yellow rose even though it wasn’t exactly rose season.

Le sigh. They thought I was ridiculous for taking a picture of their hands. But I love it.

This image is a replica of one that my Auntie took of my great-grandparents at one of their anniversary parties in this very tandem adirondack chair thinger. Isn’t this the most precious thing you’ve seen?!

Funny story about the chair…once, when I was a wee lad. I was playing tag with my cousin and while I was in hot pursuit, I followed him in a dramatic leap over the arm of the chair and totally mis-stepped and landed on the arm and broke it. I was mortified because I knew how special the chair was to my grandma since she had inherited it when they passed. Luckily my dad is a carpenter so we made a new arm in no time and I was able to repair the beloved chair. Dad saves the day yet again. Whew.

And how about this plum tree? Purdy ain’t it?

Meet Papa Walt. His real name is Waldo but he goes by Walt. I think he should go by Waldo because well it’s cool. Ha. He is one of the sweetest and most genuine men I know. He writes notes and poems for my grandma on a regular basis, and he always makes sure the fridge and pantry is stocked. He has no problem going to the store for just a loaf of bread or can of green beans. There’s always ample cereal and “pop” on hand. And batteries. He always has lots of batteries which he keeps in the fridge in the garage. So, he’s on a waffle kick right now since he got a belgian waffle iron for his birthday. So after we took photos, we had waffles with peanut butter of course. He had the “slick” kind and I the “lumpy”. I’ll never forget that conversation we had about peanut butter all those years ago and how he had assigned his own labels to them.

Meet Grandma Bonnie. Is this not the sweetest picture? It warms my heart. So much. My grandma is a hoot. She’s in her late seventies and is still in a bowling league. She has her very own ball and shoes. Yup. And every time the whole family is in town we all go bowling. She adorns all over her blouses–as she calls them–by hand with various beading, appliqué, puff paint and buttons and she makes earrings to match. She ALWAYS matches. And she never fails to notice and then take it upon herself to straighten a cockeyed photo on the wall no matter where it is. She makes the best toffee you’ve ever tasted and her scrambled eggs are to die for. She always has a stash of hard candies next to her chair in the den, which I promptly raid the moment I walk through the door.

Her smile and laugh it so precious to me.

They are awesome and I love them ever so much. And I’m so blessed to have both set of my grandparents with me still and am very much thankful they are alive and well. Here’s the celebrating their 70th in a short 10 years. :-)


  • Jana Marie - So darling! I love grandparents!!! Great job once again :)ReplyCancel

  • Nicole Montero - Um, this is absolutely wonderful. love love love everything about it. Made me tear up. Stories like this remind us that forever-love is a real thing. And what an honor to have such a beautiful love story in your family. Great Job Jeff. You are kinda my idol photographer.ReplyCancel

  • Janet - These are the most precious pictures ever. Love how you captured the love between them. I know I need more of these. You did fantastic work. Thank you!!ReplyCancel

  • Laura Cottril - I LOVE these so much! I’m so entirely happy for you to have the gift of that session and expressing everything you love about them!!!
    Beautiful in so many ways! :)ReplyCancel

  • morgaine - jeffrey, these images are so beautifully honest and sweet. I love these two beautiful people! …and I’ve obviously never met them, but I can feel the connection and it makes me happy!ReplyCancel

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