Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Lennon Mornson peeks around the corner of the dining room in his Ellsworth home, giggling mischievously with a blanket cocooned around him.
"Hello you, wanna come say hi?" his mother, Jessica DeVoe-Mornson, chuckles. She urges her 6-year-old eldest son to come out near her in-home photography studio.
Lennon's little brother, 2-year-old Jude, seems to not be available for a photoshoot.
After a quick sweater change and the addition of a St. Patrick's-themed costume hat, Lennon situates himself atop a white furry stool in front of bright white studio lights. The blue backdrop featuring a cartoon rainbow image behind him emphasizes his playful expressions.
DeVoe-Mornson crouches on her living room floor with her camera. With a few snaps of the shutter, she captures her son's modeling techniques which don't come without a bit of stubbornness and some wiggling around.
DeVoe-Mornson's husband, Chuck Mornson, stands behind her watching her do what she loves with their son.
Before Lennon came into the world and graced their family with his bright personality, there had been a chance he may not survive after birth.
"When I was 22 weeks with him, I went into preterm labor. We got some terrible news that he might not make it, but we made it to 23 weeks and were able to go up to United (St. Paul)," DeVoe-Mornson recalled. "At 28 weeks he decided time to come and it ended up being an emergency C-section Christmas morning. His umbilical cord prolapsed and he was in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for six weeks."
Now older, Lennon still suffers mildly from a chronic lung disease and relies on a nebulizer especially when he is sick, but is not required to use a scheduled inhaler like some children.
"He's really lucky," DeVoe-Mornson said. "He just had a bout of pneumonia last month so we got to do the nebulizers again. He understands, he'll even say 'I need my nebulizer,' so it's nice he's aware of it. At the same time it's just kind of sad for being only 6 years old he already knows that stuff."
It was during and after this distressing time that long-time photographer DeVoe-Mornson wanted to lean into her interest in photography again and capture intimate, precious moments like those of her first son with her camera.
Throughout high school, DeVoe-Mornson had studied photography using a film camera. She pursued pre-med at college and almost switched her major to photography but hit a roadblock.
"My professor didn't jive well with me," DeVoe-Mornson said. "He didn't think family photography was a good photography, he was an extreme artist photographer. He just kind of broke my heart and dreams for awhile there so I took a break from it."
Her official business, DeVoe Photography, came to be by "accident" in May 2018, she said. DeVoe-Mornson had created a Facebook page for the business that was not quite ready for the public, but she showed Chuck and he liked it a lot. Chuck eventually shared the page himself on Facebook before DeVoe-Mornson.
Pam Dusbabek, a photographer for her business Heart of Life Photography in Red Wing, sold a camera to DeVoe-Mornson and gave her a few lessons in digital photography and editing.
"She's extremely talented and so helpful so I feel like my camera has good mojo because it came from Pam," DeVoe-Mornson said. "I was still used to film photography from college. Going to digital was different. I'd never edited pictures."
Photography gives DeVoe-Mornson an opportunity to provide people with memories that last, capturing personalities and moments. She enjoys working with natural outdoor light but has recently set up a small studio in her living room.
For future work, DeVoe-Mornson would like to take photos for those with special needs as she is inspired by her brother with special needs. Photographing for the NICU is also an aspiration. DeVoe-Mornson just signed up to voluntarily photograph incoming dogs for Coco's Heart Dog Rescue.
More information on DeVoe Photography may be found at www.facebook.com/DeVoePhotography/