What's it all about?
I want you to think about the people who you love the most. Go ahead and picture them. What are your favorite, most treasured memories with them? What do you love to do together? Think about it. Picture it. Maybe even write these things down. Got it? Okay. Now I want you to think about your parents' and grandparents' photo albums - you know the dusty things that get taken out once a year with totally embarrassing photos of you in a diaper? Yes, those. What makes these photo albums special? Most of the photos in there probably are a little blurry, a little out of focus; probably people aren't too dressed up; probably these photos aren't perfect. Sure there are the typical tourist "smile and look at the camera" photos, but probably most of those photos are there because they captured a moment, because they are a memory, because they are a tangible way to look back, and they are precious. You might argue that we have even more of that now due to cell phones and digital cameras, but what happens when your phone gets full? Probably, all of those photos are stored somewhere in the cloud where you rarely see them, and what about mom? I am guessing you aren't in most of them.
This is what documentary sessions are about. The most precious photos that I have are the unposed, natural photos of my kids being kids. They are dirty. They aren't dressed up (or even dressed at all in some instances), but when I look at these photos, I can feel that moment. I am taken back to that time, and that is what makes them so valuable.
Now, I want you to go back to your list (that you totally wrote down, right?) and think about those people and those memories. What things on that list are still occurring? What moments are still happening? What things will be precious to you in 5 years, 10 years, even 30 years from now? Maybe it is your bedtime routine. Maybe it is your camping trips or walks through the woods. Maybe it is a lazy Saturday at home. Maybe it is making pancakes in the kitchen. Whatever it is, I want to be there and unobtrusively capture those memories for you.
Just in case your mind has gone blank and you can't think of a single thing you want to remember, here is my list for inspiration. These are my favorite people and what I want to remember about them.
Them being born. Carrying them. What it means to be a mother. Quiet moments at home. Loud moments at home. Their size. How they feel, smell, sound. The way the house feels when they are here compared to when they are gone. Their footsteps - always running. The mess. The dirt. The energy. Tears. Laughter. Boo boos. How they love me and want to be near me and touch me. Meals. Baths. Night night time. Dance parties before dinner. The wind down before night night time. Olive laughing at Madeline. Jude pouting. Madeline coloring. Them playing. Jude playing outside in a diaper. All of us exploring outside. Vacations. Their excitement. Gardening. Our yearly trip to Spicer Orchard. Summer ice cream stops and the park. Baking cookies together. Nursing Olive. Cuddling.
Our family. That feeling when we are both watching our kids and we are silently telling each other that we love our life. Just a look between us.. His rough hands. My hands. Being held. His big clunky muddy boots. That black hat. His freckles. Crinkly eyes when he smiles. The way he looks at me when he tells me he loves me and I am his everything. Drinking wine and watching TV together. Cuddling in bed. Skin. Our mornings. Coffee. Saturday mornings when he makes breakfast. Being parents. The love. The joy. The chaos. What it feels like to be in it together, good and bad. How he looks at me, how I know he really believes I am the most beautiful woman in the world. How he hugs me when he gets home.
There are many things that could fall under the documentary session category, such as:
In-home session - Maybe these are photos of you and your kids making pancakes in your pajamas - just you being you at home. Maybe you're playing games. Maybe you're working on the yard. Maybe you're doing your nightly routine. Whatever it is, I am there taking natural candid photos and documenting your every day life, just like I do here at my house.
newborn session - We could be at home, or these photos can be taken while you're still in the hospital and it's just mom and dad and the baby. It's all about capturing those intimate first moments.
out & about - This could be: a trip to the zoo, a hike through the woods, a trip to the lake, camping, vacationing, etc.
engagement session - Think about who you are as a couple. What are some of the things that you love to do together? We could be at home or maybe we'll taking a hike. Maybe you love to have picnics. Maybe you love to get coffee. Maybe you just want to stay in bed. Maybe you love to camp. Whatever it is, do it, and let me document it.
birth - Birth is an amazing thing. I know. I have done it three times. I never thought I would want someone there photographing it...until my sister was present for the birth of my second child and took photos. These are so precious to me. There is so much emotion in birth. It is a big event - not that unlike a wedding. Having it properly captured it a big deal.
past examples & testimonials:
Evan's first birthday - balloon release at the cemetery - VIEW GALLERY
One of my closest friends delivered her baby at 18 weeks. He lived for two hours before passing away in her arms. A year later, on his birthday, she and her husband and four other kids went to the cemetery where he was buried and released balloons at his grave. They wrote messages of love on the balloons and remembered and celebrated his short time here on earth. My friend called me at the last minute and asked if I would be willing to document the balloon release for them. Of course, I was honored. This is exactly the kind of thing my documentary sessions are about. She wanted to remember this moment without having to worry about taking photos herself and, of course, she wanted to actually be in some photos too. It allowed her to focus on the moment instead of her phone as she took photos. I didn't pose them. I didn't tell them where to stand or what to do. I simply stayed out of their way and snapped photos quietly as they wrote messages on the balloons, prayed, and released the balloons with their children. These are the kinds of photos that are so precious to me and that I was so happy to provide for her.
The Stoner Family In Home Session - VIEW GALLERY
Alison was worried about cleaning up her house. It's the same thing I hear every time I suggest doing an in-home session. "But my house isn't pretty." or "we aren't that interesting." It doesn't matter. What this is about is giving your memories to you in a tangible form that makes you feel those moments again. I posed her and her husband with their two kids on the couch for starters to get warmed up and get that one group shot of them all. Most of the photos on the couch were silliness - their two kids messing with each other while mom and dad laughed, tickles, and cuddles - that kind of thing. After that, each kid played with each parent in their own room, and I photographed these moments quietly. Sometimes, I would ask one of the kids to show me his or her favorite toy or tell me the name of each of their toys, that kind of thing. Mom and dad cuddled on their daughter's bed and told stories just like they do every night before bed. Mom read to her son in the chair in his bedroom. Dad and son played with light sabers in the living room. At the end everyone ate cookies in the kitchen, the kids then went downstairs to play (with my kids and my husband) while I took a few photos of mom and dad cuddling in the living room and kissing in the kitchen. When Alison saw the photos, this was her response: "I LOVE THEM. By far my favorites. I'm going to get a photo book made!! And show it off to everyone! Thank you so much!!"
My Own Family Photos - VIEW GALLERY
Every day, I am a mom. I have cameras around. Sometimes, I bring them out and take photos quietly while my kids are most into playing and just being themselves. I don't really pose them (although my older daughter likes to pose) - I just let them be and capture them and how they are. These photos are some of my most previous possessions. Each year, I make a photobook of these images and cry when I look back through the books and see how much our family has changed. My favorites are the ones that truly capture the essence of my children - Jude right now is always dirty, always serious, always in just a diaper, always in the dirt, always has sticks, but loves him mommy fiercely and loves his cuddles. Madeline always wears dresses and wants to be a princess, loves drawing, loves birds, loves to help me in the garden, has quite the imagination, loves to play outside. Olive is the smiliest baby you've ever seen, loves her brother and sister so much, laughs when they dance and play, and loves being outside. The photos that show all of that, I just love. And that is what documentary sessions are all about.