Why I Love Documentary Family Sessions
For those of you who don't know, I'm expecting my first baby on October 25th of this year... and it's a girl! *raises roof in excitement* I still can't believe that I'm just allowed to become a mother and raise a child in this crazy world. While learning about all of the physical steps I'm supposed to be taking to keep Baby Ellie healthy, I've also been thinking a lot about how I want to prepare this sweet girl emotionally. I was so lucky to be raised by a strong, intelligent, beautiful mother who has worked hard her whole life and been the greatest example of love and laughter. (Shoutout to you, Shari! Best mom eva.)
One of the things I've been trying to practice before the baby comes is this:
stop trying to freeze time. Much easier said than done. When I married my husband Cameron, I became "Aunt Alex" to four of the most beautiful, perfect, wonderful nieces in the whole world. And every time I saw them I would say something along the lines of, "would you stop growing up already?" They were so little and sweet and silly and they liked playing with me... ALL the time. Am I supposed to just let them grow up and go through puberty and get heartbroken by mean people and not want to draw a house in sidewalk chalk on the driveway and play in it all afternoon?
And yet, they have been growing up. They're doing it right this minute. And with each new year comes some awesome new step in their lives that I get to witness.
Here are two of my nieces. Aren't they incredible?
This is one of my favorite quotes EVER from the book "Einstein's Dreams" by Alan Lightman.
In one chapter, he asks the reader to imagine a world in which you can travel to the center of time, where time stands still.
"And so, at the place where time stands still, one sees parents clutching their children, in a frozen embrace that will never let go. The beautiful young daughter with blue eyes and blond hair will never stop smiling the smile she smiles now, will never lose this soft pink glow on her cheeks, will never grow wrinkled or tired, will never get injured, will never unlearn what her parents have taught her, will never think thoughts that her parents don't know, will never know evil, will never tell her parents that she does not love them, will never leave her room with the view of the ocean, will never stop touching her parents as she does now.
Some say it is best not to go near the center of time. Life is a vessel of sadness, but it is noble to live life, and without time there is no life. Others disagree. They would rather have an eternity of contentment, even if that eternity were fixed and frozen, like a butterfly mounted in a case."
So while I'm over here taking my prenatal vitamins and struggling to exercise with my ever-expanding belly, I'm also going to actively try to enjoy the time I have with all of the little ones around me and whatever stage of life they're living.
And guess what? Freezing time is not entirely impossible. Just look at all of the frozen moments on this blog post! I believe that documenting your family as it grows and changes is so important. To quote the pilot in the new movie adaptation of The Little Prince:
"Growing up isn't the problem, forgetting is."
Most people dread having family pictures taken. It can be so stressful to find outfits for everyone that look good together, to get everybody to the chosen location on time all in one piece and in a good mood, and when young children are involved, there are almost always going to be tears shed at some point. But... there are almost always going to be some smiles as well! And with a little luck there will also be some belly laughs, some nose picking, some dog piles, some muddy fingers, some smushy kisses, and some real life. These are the moments that help us all feel connected to each other. It is OKAY and realistic to not have a perfect, smiling family that's happy all the time. With my documentary style of shooting, I try to catch a little bit of everything in the time we have together during a session.
So. Every once in a while, I'm encouraging you to invest in a photographer that you're comfortable with for a family session. Find someone whose style you love and who won't try to photoshop you into a smooth-faced Stepford family. Freeze some of these hectic, beautiful, candid moments so that you can look back on them fondly when times are tough and look forward with hope
to the next stage in your life.
Here are some of my favorite family moments from the past few years.