Like so many other photographers that I know, my journey into photography began with a desire to capture my family in a real and beautiful way. I wanted more than my, then, run-of-the-mill snapshots. I longed for pictures of my kids that were worthy of the coveted space above the fireplace. I wanted my house to be plastered with the connections between my children and my husband and I. And I wanted to be able to provide those images myself..
So I delved into learning the art of photography with both feet, as well as both my arms, my neck, my entire body. I took workshops, I spent hours poring over books, I read online forums wee into the night.
That vision that jump-started my journey into photography is still a vision. It has yet to be fulfilled. Like so many of my fellow photographers, my vision sits, waiting for me to take the time to make it a reality. Too often we are so busy working for clients that we miss capturing our own families as life passes by.
So I’ve decided that now is the time to fulfill my vision.
I’ve been lucky to have met so many incredibly talented and wonderful photographers during this journey. People who share the same desire to capture their own families in a real and beautiful way. I’m teaming up with eleven of these women on a very personal and meaningful project called, “What ________ Looks Like.”
Our goal is to capture our own families in a real and beautiful way. Some people call it “lifestyle”, some call it “real life”, some call it “unposed”. No matter what you call it, our desire is to snatch the moments that represent the relationships, the dynamics, the reality, the beauty, the truth, and the life of our families and record them here on our blogs as well as in print at the end of the project.
Each month we will each choose to fill in the blank with our word of choice. Some of us may choose to use the same word all year and some may choose to change it up each month. We will each link to the next photographer until our circle of 12 is complete.
We hope this project inspires you to take more pictures of your own families so that those unique moments that make your family unique will never be lost or forgotten.
Each of us will put our own spin on this project, making it more meaningful to us. I wanted my monthly post to be in the form of a letter to Brooks. When the year is complete, I hope to compile the monthly letters and images into a book. My gift to him and to myself.
As we went into the last days of our summer vacation, one of our jobs was to go through all of your old toys, books and clothes to donate. You were so helpful in finding all of the things that you were done playing with. Some of these items were much harder for me to give up than for you. I remember when you got this Buzz and Woodie … I think you were two. So many hours playing and playing with them. And the beautiful stacking toys. I bought them for you before you were born and loved watching you build and stack them over and over and over. In this set, I also included Big Red (yes, you named him as soon as you saw him). From the moment we found him at Nordstroms 3 years ago, there wasn’t a day that went by that you didn’t put him on first thing in the morning. When we had jammie days, Big Red was all that you needed. Then one day you got really mad at me and to punish me, you threw away Big Red. I left him in the trash for the day to see if you would change your mind the next day. But you didn’t. You were done and you didn’t need him anymore. Just like that. I saved him from the trash that day and have him hidden away. One day I’ll share the story with you, but I didn’t want you to ever forget your love for him.
All summer long you were begging to go to the Botanic Garden to play and explore. We spent the first half of the day looking through the orchard. I think it was the moment that you discovered you could really read. You went from plant to plant, calling out the name and some interesting fact. I’ve never seen you so excited to read! You discovered that reading was more than just going through a book that your teacher gave you. Instead of learning to read, you were now reading to learn. I can’t wait to watch you blossom and grow as a reader this year. I’ve always tried to teach a love of reading to the children in my class. Now, that is my wish for you. My dream is to see you so into your book that you need just 5 more minutes. We’ll see.
Also on this day at the Garden, we spent time exploring in the Children’s Garden. You loved this day!
As we were sitting around one late afternoon, you mentioned that you wanted to go to the beach and since it was summer, we could simply hop in the car and drive. I loved the quiet time enjoying the sunset and watching you enjoy your snow cone and chase the birds. You were a little disappointed that the snow cones at the beach didn’t taste anything like the delicious shaved ice that we usually get. It was a lovely evening and I’m so glad you wanted to go.
Before the rush of the school year started, we also fit in another two week trip to Santa Barbara. You’ve been saving up and counting money all summer long and you couldn’t wait to spend it at the candy store. I’ll be sure to remember to share your love for counting and stacking up coins another time. At the candy store you were in heaven! Candy is your thing! You don’t eat pastries or cookies and you don’t like cakes and pies. You love candy! You tightly held on to the bag filled to the top with taffy chews, mints and root beer barrels. Another favorite treat you picked out was an old fashioned orange cream soda! Delicious!!!
You are so happy at MomMom and Grampy’s house. So, so happy to be there. You probably don’t remember how Grampy used to get on the ground to play games with you and throw the ball back and forth with you. I wish I had more of those everyday moments with the two of you. Grampy is pretty far into his Alzheimer’s disease and now you often see him sleeping or resting in his chair. We were supposed to document more of the two of you this summer and it just didn’t happen. We will do it the next time we’re there. This set also shows you with Skyler and your ‘stick place’. You have a special little hide out that you spend your days. When you get home from walks with MomMom and the dogs, you take your sticks up to the special place and you spend hours and hours with your amazing imagination.
Oh, sweet Millie! I think Millie is your greatest love of your life so far. She’s your very best friend in the whole world. You give her no less than a thousand kisses and hugs each day. MomMom has always loved that you go on the early morning walks with you. And I know that Millie adores it! You two are quite a pair!
As a special treat for being so cooperative doing your back to school pictures, I promised something from Target. You picked out this incredible lego castle. There were many directions and many bags to go through to build this cool castle. Right away you sat down and got to work. I was so proud to watch you tackle the challenge and a bit sad that you didn’t want my help. You are so independent! The castle has so many neat features and fun people. TV took a back seat to this creation for the rest of the week.
The weekend before we went back to get ready for school we went to see Mary Poppins at the Civic Theater downtown. This was our 4th performance of the season and by far our favorite. As was our tradition, we arrived a little early to have a yummy lunch at the Yard House. Of course the favorite part of your meal was the delicious soda. You’re always so curious to see the tall buildings and different people downtown. I cried at the end of the show when I was holding you up for the standing ovation. You clapped so loud and so hard and your eyes were smiling with happiness. You LOVED this show! And even now, you are still singing the songs from the show each day.
Here we are at Trader Joe’s just before school starts. You still love having your own cart to find your groceries. One of your new loves is ‘the other green stuff’ … spinach. We also picked up popcorn and applesauce for snacks. The next day we went to school for the first time. The classroom looks so empty and strange without all of the children’s projects. It won’t take long to fill up the walls with beautiful work. And finally, you … just one quick snap of you at your big first grade desk. You’re right next door to me through that door. I have loved taking a quick peek at you and seeing you hard at work. I’m so proud of the student and friend that you have become. Looking forward to a wonderful year.
And finally, I had to sneak in a quick glimpse of our daily routine … a game or 3 of Star Wars Trouble. You often make up the games we play and I’ll now get to document some of those crazy, inventive games … but one of our favorites is this game. You’ve learned so much about strategy and are still working a little on sportsmanship. I know you don’t like to lose, but you are so much better at it now.
Well … that was quite a month! I know September won’t be quite so filled with fun outings now that we’re back to school.
I love you to the moon and back!
Thanks so much to my wonderful new group for joining me in this new project. I’ve been so inspired by them and can’t wait to be motivated by them.
Now, please be sure to keep going through the circle to the incredibly talented Nichole Van | Nichole V Photography in Woodland HIlls, UT