If you're a parent, chances are that you've been told to appreciate every moment because kids grow up too quickly.
Depending on where you are, this advice can be hard to swallow. Especially if you’re in the throes of nighttime feedings, sleep schedules, potty training and endless loads of laundry.
This past summer, I took a week off work to help two of my best friends who both needed a little extra help with their families.
I mistakenly confused this as a staycation pour moi. A week away from the office would surely give me the chance to catch up on work, work out every day, prepare healthy food, and live my best "mom" life with coffee in hand.
That slight misunderstanding was corrected on Day 1, when I learned that hot coffee is not baby safe and me is a toddler-only kind of word.
Now I love my friends’ children as if they were my own. They are the sweetest, smartest, most charming and beautiful natural disasters I’ve ever known. That said, these unstoppable tornadoes that swirl through neatly-folded laundry stacks with food-gritty finger and wildfires that jump from furniture are in constant need of emergency support.
Being a constant rescue squad is beyond EXHAUSTING, disgustingly messy and sometimes very dangerous.
Parenting Is Not Pretty. Or Is It?
The reality is that raising children, being a good partner, and showing up for your family in all kinds of ways, EVERY DAY, can feel a bit repetitive and also overwhelming. From preventing crises to being the sanitation crew, it’s probably difficult to see how you and your daily life could be photographically beautiful - without a set designer, stylist, hair and makeup team and a flaw-fixing post-production expert.
Understandably, this may be a reason why the term “candid photography” has gotten a little skewed by the family photo biz. See not many families actually want candid family portraits. Sure, they don’t want a generic studio backdrop or maybe they don’t want to be looking directly at the lens, but they still want to be posed, directed and for their hair flyaways (and double chins) to be “photoshopped.”
After that one week that I spent on the front lines, I completely understand why a photograph of a well-dressed, smiling family in a crisp autumn scene is certainly a fitting trophy to hang on a wall; a reward for all the unsightly duties and hard work. A flawless snapshot to remind one of how beautiful their life is, as they wonder when was the last time they showered?
But what about that flawed, sometimes smelly reality? The yoga pants that you’ve worn for 3 days straight, your toddler’s unbrushed hair that has dried Mac & Cheese in it, and the old couch that you hate, but won’t replace until your kids are older and less prone to spills?
How can we find the reward in that photograph as well?
So Soon You Forget.
Just as your little newborn grows into a baby, then a toddler, then a first-grader and then a…high-schooler right before your eyes, you realize exactly how quick they (and you) grow up. You can hear the irony in your voice as you retell that same phrase to new parents, that had once made you want to scream.
This is when the wisdom really kicks in and you stop yourself from wishing your teenager, who just got suspended for a stupid prank, to grow up faster.
Every stage has its unique nuances, crazy moments and different routines and those all create your family’s history. In fact, there will be so many of these, that one day you won’t even be able to remember all of them.
A kitchen table with kids doing homework as a dad cooks dinner in his boxers, a family packed in the car heading to a soccer tournament, or a mom playing video games on the floor with her son. The overly worn jeans, the favorite baseball hats, the pacifier obsessions, or the lego pieces that are constantly causing foot pain. What about the neighborhood friends who are always over, movie and popcorn nights in bed or lazy Sunday mornings that last until nap-time?
It’s boggling to think that behaviors so ingrained in your regular life today, will eventually become distant memories tomorrow.
The Bigger Picture.
Though time does not stop, it is not impossible to capture those momentary rainbows that quickly pop up, in between all the flash storms. To me, these are the scenes that are most precious, fleeting and deserving of high-quality preservation.
A few years ago, when our political landscape shifted and fake news began to buzz around, I couldn’t help but wonder if something, ever so small, like a perfect family photo could somehow be connected.
While this is just one tiny trend, I still believe that it carries a tremendous amount of influence - both culturally and personally.
I’ve unfortunately witnessed a horrifying amount of bullying, competition, judgements and critical assumptions between from PARENTS.
Even without being a parent, I’ve hypocritically sold my own fake news, while also scoffing at another person’s perfect Instagram feed.
It’s so easy to fall prey to it.
However, I want to try and change that. I want to help parents feel beautiful in their reality and proud of where their family is right now - whether they are in the midst of a severe ice storm or witnessing a rainbow. These are the moments that make a parent and a child who they are and I want to photograph them - for free.
What’s the catch? There’s always a catch.
If you are a parent and open to allowing me to photograph your family candidly for a few hours, I would be honored to do this for free in 2019.
You will be given all the final images for free. Though, I will ask you to sign a release, allowing your participation in this photography series on family realities.
So, if you’re interested in taking a stand against fake news and doing something to promote a positive shift within your family AND community, contact me and I would love to chat!