Just as you are and why I love it

Just as you are.

It sounds pretty simple but at times it can feel far more complex than we’re really willing to admit.

When it comes to photographing my own family I have journeyed through “this is how I’m supposed to do it” to “this is how I want to do it” and the resounding answer is JUST AS YOU ARE.

Why? Because I see this as our most beautiful selves, when we can be just as we are without pressure to behave in a certain way, dress a certain way or even look a certain way. We can go about our daily lives and photograph that it in all its glory, mess and quirkiness.

Ultimately what I am most passionate about is being our selves because there’s no one else we can be, and isn’t it awkward, time consuming, difficult to try and be something we are not.

My number 1 goal is to document as honestly and respectfully as I can. This is not without it’s challenges, for example I am torn about documenting things like tantrums (although these feelings are valid is it necessary to document it? maybe I should be as it brings about more societal acceptance that it’s ok for small children to feel upset about different things - to them it IS important)

I hope through my work we can collectively (myself included) reframe our ideas of what family photography is and what is worthy of being photographed. And to also really embrace the multifaceted dimensions of life and all the complexities and simple joys it brings.

I spent a rainy Saturday morning with this gorgeous wee girl and her Mum who are dear friends of mine. We had a loose idea of some activities that we thought would be fun to document (making pancakes, getting ready for ballet, crafting etc) but litte Miss had other ideas. From brushing her teeth in a variety of colourful hats, masks and crowns, to an all out dance/gymnastic bonanza to the Moana soundtrack, we had so much fun!

Photographing our family holiday; an exercise in managing my own expectations as a photographer and mum

We went on holiday to the beach last week. It was a trip we were all looking forward to, 5 days of continuous holiday is a rare treat for us. Without really realising it I had built up an idea in my head of how I was going to “finally” have time to photograph the children to my hearts content.  We would have the most beautiful location (a beach) and lots of wonderful light to play in which would equate to thousands of portfolio worthy images. Can you tell I had very high expectations?!

As seasoned mothers know, when you go on holiday especially to a self-catering setup, you’re not actually on holiday in the true sense of the word and what it meant pre-children. When holidaying with young children you are still doing all the same things you do at home, but you are now in an unfamiliar environment that is not baby proof, trying to manage the children from destroying everything in sight, all the while trying your best to relax and enjoy yourselves! The only difference with being on holiday is that my husband is there to help me.

Knowing all of this, you would think I would be able to manage my own expectations around how I would fit photography in with everything else. A lesson I haven’t quite mastered and that the universe continues to gently remind me of, is that in this season of my life I need to let go of ALL my expectations. I of course thought I had made progress in this area, I am nearly 4 years into this mothering game after all, 2 and a half as a photographer so you’d think by now I’d be on board with this notion. From “missed moments”, to feeling frustrated that why-can’t-we-for-once-go-to-the-beach-during-golden-hour!!!! I found myself feeling grumpy and disappointed that like usual, I was scrambling for my camera and trying to make pictures with tiny snippets of time, instead of the leisurely approach I dreamed of.

Looking through some of my images from the week I know I captured us in our essence and to the best of my ability. Juggling a 3 and half year old, a one year old and all the other parts of mothering whilst trying to capture what is happening in a beautiful and authentic way, is really hard work. I would say to anyone in this situation, bravo for taking even one single photo! I’m writing this just as much for myself as for anyone else who might be reading this thinking; oh my god me too!

Our few days at the beach reminded me to be gentle with myself, let go of any ideas I have e.g. golden hour (laughable I know), follow a spark, any spark no matter how weird, and ALWAYS always have the camera ready to grab.