The story I’m told is that twenty minutes before my scheduled arrival, Dan handed Erin the baby and told her he was headed up for a shower. Erin handed the baby back and said, “No, you’re not….”
The plan to take pictures over pancake breakfast as Archie approached six months of age was made far in advance but the decision to keep our shoot as close to reality as possible was rather last minute. Erin wasn’t sure that any of us would like the idea of pajamas, no showers, no hairdo and no make up. Of course I was on board because, two home births excepting, this might be the bravest picture taking decision I’ve seen a parent make.
Its not the lack of polish that makes it brave in my book but the perspective. There’s a way we want the world to see our family life and its far more comfortable to put forward images where we look organized, happy and having everything together. We want our friends on social media to know that our family is beautiful and happy and this can play out in our minds as nice clothes and nice smiles on a sunny day. When I saw the results of this shoot though, I felt as though it was far more important to D & E for their children to see their happiness, the rest of us and our opinions are not paramount. These images are for Charlie and Archie, not for us.
It also made me think of a line from my favorite movie, Up. Russell is remembering his largely absent father to Mr. Fredricksen, describing a ritual of going for ice cream and counting red and blue cars with his dad outside the shop. Russell says, “That might sound boring but I think its the boring stuff I remember the most.” Birthdays and vacations hold special places in our hearts but its tradition, a.k.a. “the boring stuff”, that defines our childhood simply because we can count on it. My guess is that children yearn for what is consistent over what is special: its the daily, weekly, monthly rituals that keep a child’s universe in order and on course. And perhaps that’s a far more beautiful place to create photos than my own “grown up” vision of the organized world.
I know that shoots like this will not become the norm for me as a photographer. I’ll finish this post and go scope out a lovely, perfect garden for an upcoming Family Day event, not someone’s kitchen. Having had the opportunity to shoot in this space of honesty did, however, give me some insight into that pesky and ever-evolving “about” section on the top right of this site. Regardless of what is put in front of me on any given shoot, no matter where we are or what you wear, what I seek when I look through the lens are the interactions that happen when you make pancakes on a lazy weekend morning. If I have done my job well you will recognize them in your photos and they will too someday. Everyone else can see whatever they want.