When the opportunity to toss my two preschoolers, my pit bull dog, and my own self into a car and drive 14 hours to a cabin in the mountains in Central Colorado for 5 weeks this summer arose, I grabbed on.
What’s the worst thing that could happen? (Don’t answer that)
But then a brilliant idea struck. If I’m basically taking the summer off, I’ve gotta fill my fall calendar NOW.
And so I present to you, the SUMMERTIME UNPLUGGED FALL SESSION SALE.
I’m here to tell you about a major revelation I had during this week of solo parenting all over Central Texas.
As a professional documentary photographer, I lugged my 600-pound pro Nikon along with me everywhere we went, determined to make great photos that reflect the realities of our “week full of adventures.”
BUT I FORGOT SOMETHING CRITICAL. When you are your own family’s photographer, there’s something important missing. YOU.
Now, stick with me – this point is actually a bit less obvious than it sounds . . .
Let’s just go ahead and discuss the elephant in the room: MONEY. Money is a factor, right? We get tempted, then feel guilty about spending on something that isn’t a necessity. Some things vary so much in price that it’s hard to even figure out whether the particular one you want is “worth it.” And when it comes time for family photos, we may wind up hiring that mom down the street who’s recently picked up photography and offers what seems like a really good deal.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever booked a photo session with a photographer who seems to make families look radiant, golden, and straight out of a fairy tale. Then the day of your session rolls around, and you’re going crazy trying to get the kids dressed, bribing them to behave, begging your spouse to have a good attitude and go along with it, and sequestering yourself in your bedroom for some quick deep breathing exercises so you can be the chill, easygoing parent you always thought you were.
There are times – for sure – that the mess is the point.
Yes, often it involves mud. Or paint. But sometimes, the ordinary mess of real life is independently funny, interesting, or otherwise important. And even though it’s annoying, I often remind myself that someday I’ll miss the mess of life with kids.
Take this photo of my husband and his glorious booty shorts, “organizing” the garage while the children sit in a pile of dirt and leaves reading dusty, cracked books:
Summer seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? Even Texas fall. I met Katie for a documentary family photography session on a late September afternoon – the kind of day that you optimistically slip on jeans in the air conditioned comfort of your house, and kind of regret it by 10am. But you stick with it, because you’re a Texan and, well, it’s FALL, darnit!
Over Christmas, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with my whole family to sort through one of several giant boxes full of disorganized family photos from the 80s and 90s. It was an evening of laughing till we cried, making fun of my mom’s hairstyles over the years, and remembering the stories and details of years past that had all but slipped away. Follow along for the most valuable lessons I learned from this experience.
I'll let you in on a secret. There is ONE major factor that every single one of my clients shares -- one thing that draws them in to documentary family photography and makes them realize they MUST have this for themselves.
We moved to the States in 1983, when I was just four years old. My only memories of living in Poland are second-hand, told by my parents and my grandmothers -- the matriarchs of the family. Growing up, our family traditions were the blood that ran through our veins. Easter was not easter without dyeing eggs pink with boiled beets, or a rich, caramel-brown with the skins of yellow onions. And Christmas would never be Christmas without
Let’s face it: your wife does not want a wine cover/ sock puppet, another bottle of perfume, or a new pair of slippers.
What she really wants is a “magical way to chill out and appreciate the little things” gift certificate. Maybe a “get out of a stressful situation for free” gift certificate. Or perhaps a “slow down and savor your children better” gift card.
But last I saw, these were not available at the checkout at Target (or anywhere else). Damn.
It's an honor for one of my favorite personal projects to be featured over at one of my favorite Documentary Family Photography collectives. Click below to read my interview with Sham of the Perfect, in which I discuss breakfast beer, my hot husband, and creating a family history for my children.