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The Story Behind the Session

Hollybush Mansion, Rowan University November 2022

family, family photography, nj photography, rowan university

It’s not very often that I blog about a family session, but this one holds a special place in my heart and it’s a worth a share:

Growing up my family always celebrated 3 Christmases – yes 3. First, with my immediate family; second, with my Grammie and aunt; and third, at my Uncle Mark’s house with my dad’s side of the family.

At Christmas #3 there were several kids including: Myself, my brother, and our cousins: Alicia, Kayla and Mark. While the girls played barbies in the hallway, the boys celebrated their joint birthdays, and we all played once a year until our parents had enough eggnog and it was time to head back home.

family, blended love, family photos, hollybush mansion

Once we got older, we brought our girlfriends/boyfriends/husbands to this gathering, but eventually grew apart. We entered different phases of life – some of us got married, a few went to college, others took a more unconventional route, but eventually Christmas #3 was no more. And when my Uncle Mark passed away in 2014 I thought I most likely would not see this side of the family for a long time. Well low and behold, life had different plans. Fast forward, 8 years later, my boyfriend and I settled on our first home in Glassboro, NJ. And well, I can say this because I love Jersey now, but if you told me at 15 years old that in 20 years, I’d buy a house in Jersey, I would have laughed. See at that time, the thought of “crossing the bridge” from PA to NJ was a long journey; yet alone to live here – no way. Now being from PA I knew of a few places and areas in Jersey, but not many. However, I did know that my Uncle Mark was a president of a college. Turns out, that college was Rowan University, which just so happens to be within walking distance of our new home. It is incredible to see his name on the Student Center and know that my uncle was so influential to the community.

Dr. Mark Chamberlain was the president of Rowan University, formerly Glassboro State College, in 1969 and served until 1983. Afterwards, he taught chemistry until he retired in 2000. Then in 2006 the college honored him by naming the student center after him. He is known for the legacy of change that he instilled during his presidency and for shepherding the college through turbulent times. Okay – so now I’m in Jersey, next to Rowan University with a connection to the community and I see a post from one of my long-lost cousins that she’s moved to the next town over. And so, in my eagerness to make friends, I reach out to see if we would get along as well as we did when we played barbies all those years back. Spoiler Alert: We did.

It was a friendship meant to be. With all the time passed, loved ones lost, kids had (her not me), apartments moved, animals adopted (me not her), and life changes we instantly bonded and the rest is history. It also helps we are a total of 3 minutes away and share a love of antique shopping and craft beer, but that’s neither here or there. As we discussed where to take her family fall pictures, it was decided she wanted to honor our family and its ties to the community by doing a session at the Hollybush Mansion on the Rowan campus. The mansion has a historic history all to itself, but at one time it was used as the president’s home when her grandpop, my uncle, was president, and both of our father’s spent time there throughout their lives. We wanted to take a moment to honor the generations of Chamberlains that lived and loved the area as we both forge ahead and create our own memories with our families in this special town, that we both now call home.

The Credits Family Shown: Alicia, Greg and the kids Photography by Roseann from MRCreativeCo @mrcreativeco Location: Rowan University @rowarnuniversity

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