The value of documenting your family's story is in more than just preserving your changing looks, it is about celebrating the ordinary things you do together, and the special details of your relationships. This session perfectly captured an ordinary walk by the shores of Thunder Lake, where this crew spends much of the summer camping. They will undoubtedly look back fondly on these routine moments, and now those memories will be just a touch more vivid.
These images are from my personal collection from about this time last year. At that time, I didn't share them here, because I was afraid to pollute my "brand". My artistic heart was pulling in two directions, and I wasn't sure how to fit the two together. How does one balance the desire to create beauty, to draw out connection, with a passion for acknowledging and capturing the simple beauty already present in the everyday? Looking back at these a year later I am more confident than ever in the importance of these images.
The same love and honesty is the driving force behind both my connection images and my documentary images. The beauty and appeal of connection images is more obvious to the casual observer, but that does not diminish the significance of documentary sessions.
As a mother, this is why I am sharing these images with you today...
Because some things haven't changed... This little girl is still most at peace with a quiet room, a crisp sheet of paper, and a healthy supply of colouring tools. That dress is still in her closet, and she still only wears it if I have packed it in her bags and she doesn't have a pinker, purplier, or frillier option (this was taken at Grams' house, so I know that is exactly why she was wearing it then).
...But some things have, her nose, her cheeks, her lips, they are all a little less plump and baby like. That first haircut is again stretching down her back...
Her baby sister still watches closely to learn all the tricks of how the big kids do it, although she now has stronger opinions of her own.
The phase of trying so diligently to grasp every crayon has passed, and her knuckle dimples are all but gone for good.
She still sits on her feet on this bench, but will not need to for long. Those grippy bunny socks have been loved to the point of holes and are long gone. And most importantly, that precious curl on the bottom of her hair has grown out and I miss it to pieces.
Anneliese still layers as many accessories as she can find, and her drawings have only grown more detailed.
And this one, oh my! Accidental naps are much fewer and farther between, that beloved soother is finally gone, but the "dot blanket" remains. Those jeans, well, don't tell him when he gets older, but they are in her baby brother's closet now ;)
Last year, these were sweet images of my girls colouring together. Today, this is a time machine that pulls my momma heartstrings back to a very particular moment in our lives. As this moment grows more distant, the value of these images will grow immeasurably. These are my girls. They are real, they are beautiful, and they change every day.
In honour of thanksgiving, and in support of living wholeheartedly, I offered up a session by nomination to a family appreciated by their friends and family as living with daily gratitude for the little things. The nomination came in from Jenny's friend Lisa:
"As soon as I read your post on Facebook, Jenny and her family came to mind. They have helped our family in so many ways despite any problems they were having at the time. My husband fell off a roof at work. He fell 14ft onto his head. He was lucky enough to walk away from it, but he needed major therapy to get him back in shape. Jenny at the time was about 8 months pregnant and didn't hesitate in providing him with the help he needed to be able to function in day to day life again. We were so excited for them when they welcomed their baby boy into the world. When he was 6 weeks old it was discovered that the newest member of their family had a severe heart condition. He has a hole in the bottom and top of his heart. He will need at least one, but very likely more, open heart surgeries. Much to their disappointment doctors at this time aren't wanting to operate. They want to wait until he is older. Jenny watches him gasp for air while eating, she bundles him up when his hands and feet turn blue from the bad circulation. I can't even imagine the grief they are going through as a family, let alone Jenny herself as she has to sit and do nothing while her baby boy struggles. I think it would be amazing if this family could get some memories caught on tape of their amazing love for each other and how they are overcoming this obstacle on their lives."
The video clip below highlights just a few of the special moments that I was able to capture in our time together, the beauty of the relationships that this family shares, in a candid and honest way. These documentary sessions are a special way to showcase the beauty of mundane everyday moments. Not only are these films and albums a treasured glimpse into the beauty of your love, they are an incredible legacy for your children, a true portrait of the love that surrounds them and the beauty of their childhood glee.
Jenny admitted to being skeptical of a session so candid, of being vulnerable to capturing the imperfections that all mothers feel. Sometimes no matter how grateful we are for what we have, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the heavy moments of parenting. Those moments when it feels like a lot of work, a lot of nagging, a lot of bickering, and a lot of chaos.
My favourite part of the process is being there when my clients are able to see their images for the first time, the emotion that washes over them as they realize that their life is every bit as beautiful as everyone else's appears to be. That in the moments of chaos there is always beauty. The youngest girl was with us as we viewed the images, and honestly did not see what the big deal was. I think that this speaks so much to me as a mother. To her, that beauty is always apparent. That is the love that she sees and feels every day, because even though it feels hard for mom and dad sometimes, her parents are doing everything right. She doesn't see that it is hard, she only sees that she is loved.
After I left, I received the most beautiful words from Jenny:
What would it mean to see your family this way? What would it mean to your children to see this moment of their lives in such an honest way when they are grown? Are you ready to be vulnerable, to open your eyes to the beauty amid the struggle? Are you ready to be brave?