I think most parents feel a sense of impending doom before a photo-shoot with their children. We live in a society that values Pinterest and perfection. We are inundated with ideas and “inspiration” that can often leave us feeling intimidated, or worse, feeling that if we can’t be “perfect” we are less than. How is it that all of these people seem to have it together and we are just hanging by a thread? I am so guilty of acting like a stress case on family picture day, because it feels like my one chance to pull it together. My opportunity to see my family from the loving eye of another. I so desperately want to come off as adorable and organized. Side note- we can rarely pull it together but what comes out instead is even better. I love my wild children with their funny personalities. I love that they showed up authentic. I love seeing a variety of their expressions captured so I can look back and re-live stories about who they were as young people. Being a parent is the hardest work that I have ever done in my life. It’s work that I am constantly striving to get right and am often left feeling winded by the effort of it all. Because I know how Herculean the effort it can be at times, I feel a great sense of honor to be telling the story of my clients. We can’t control who will show up on any particular day, and the fact that we must show up accepting that is an act of bravery. We come armed with bribes and treats, but the fact is our children are not robots. What if our kids act like jerks to each other, what if they have a tantrum, what if we can’t re-create that perfect pin, what if we can’t be photo worthy for one hour? I have had most of these thoughts when it comes to my own family, but when I go to capture other people’s families I see their life, their stories, personalities that can’t be forced into plastic smiles, and I love the depth of what I capture. I love the highs and the lows. I love real. I love the bruises and snot along side the giggles and the snuggles. We are whole beings, full of imperfection and potential for greatness. I think the biggest gift we can give to ourselves and a lesson I have learned over and over again it to love my story. To love my children and family without comparison of the global Joneses. To treasure my tiny people and to honor who they are on any given day.
I have this particular bee in my bonnet because I have one family who seems to model this particularly well. Anna, the Mom of these three beautiful boys often remarks on how much she loves that I capture it all. When I’m looking through the pictures I’m astounded by her grace and ability to laugh when it’s clearly not going well. She and her husband do their best to wipe the boogers and to line everyone up neatly but you can see on their faces what a great sense of humor they have when it’s all falling apart. This family knows when to hand out the gummy bears and re-group and when to push through. I don’t think they have any idea how much I love watching them parent. Sure, Anna wants the perfect picture just like the rest of us, but she seems to easily enjoy and gush over whatever I happen to capture.
This is the Herculean effort I was talking about. Thank you for trusting me Anna and Silas with your precious family.