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Family Portraits is one of the most important types of sessions I offer, even more so after I became a mom. There is nothing more important to me than preserving children, parents and grandparents at their various stages. We all know how quickly time passes - the longest shortest time. Before you know it, those adorable little toddlers are teens and soon to be adults. Not only are family portraits important to capture those moments but also because I promise you, your children will want to look back on old photos to see you. Yes, you mama. And you, papa. Don't forget the grandparents - they are a key part of the family. What a beautiful thing it is to have photos of grandparents and grandchildren together.
I absolutely LOVE looking at old photos of my parents and I treasure them dearly. You can ready more about why I have so much passion for preserving moments here. In short, I moved to the United States with my family under difficult circumstances. Our family had lost most of our photos and so I grew up with very few photographs of my parents, grandparents, siblings or even of myself.
My favorite Family Portrait Sessions are in studio. I know, that is quite different than the lifestyle photography that is trending currently. I love studio sessions for a few different reasons. First, I have full control of my lighting and we are not dependent on weather. Second, as you can tell by my beauty and glamour portraits, I truly enjoy creating a fun pampering experience for all women, including moms. Moms are often getting everyone else ready and are so stressed out for their photo shoots. At my studio, mom gets to enjoy a relaxing hour of hair and makeup so she looks and feels her absolute best. Trust me, when mom is feeling great so is everyone else. Then we bring in the rest of the family so we can get all the awesome combinations - siblings, each parent with each child, the whole family, the parents together. The third thing I love about studio sessions is that they have a clean, modern look that does not look dated over the years. These photos make for beautiful wall art pieces and albums.
We live in a digital age and we consume so much in terms of images now that sometimes it is easy to forget the power of a photograph. I’m talking about that sensation when you hold an actual photograph in your hands and you can immediately feel yourself back in the moment - the sights, sounds and even smells. Or when you look through old photographs of your parents or grandparents and realize they have a lifetime of memories before you were even born.
Moms and dads - I am talking to you now. Moms, I get it - you spend your entire day and many times, hours at night, taking care of people. Your little people. They need so much and they need you so much - it is unlike any other relationship and bond. It can be overwhelming even while it is beautiful - there’s no shame in saying that. Whether you are a working mom or a stay at home mom, it can be so challenging to practice self care. I’m a mom of two very little children and most days, I am the last one to get dressed because I have to get the kids cleaned up and fed. And when I do get ready, I grab the closest, cleanest pair of jeans and a t-shirt, whip my hair up in a bun and call it a day. I have a closet full of my pre-baby clothes - cute tops and nice pants, skirts etc. But I don’t reach for them as often as I should because I subconsciously know there will be food, spit up and paint on them by the end of the day. So, sometimes I get that you don’t FEEL like being in the photos with you kids. You’d rather fill your iPhone album up with all of their adorableness. But trust me when I say you NEED to exist in photos with your children. Your children will cherish seeing their parents in the photos with them. They won’t care what outfit you were wearing or what size your dress was. They won’t care that your hair wasn’t perfectly curled or that you weren’t wearing makeup. They will see and FEEL the love that you have for them and just how much you cherish them..
Dads, I’m going to give you a similar spiel. Photo shoots are probably not your ideal way to spend a day. And you’re also exhausted - you work so hard for your family so that they are well taken care of and you put in your dad hours to boot. It takes energy to help around the house, be the best partner possible, chase little kids around and ease their tantrums. When you’re kids are off to college or getting ready on their wedding day and your family cracks open the family album to reminisce, it is so imperative that they see all their fun and loving moments with their dad. These are the moments our children will hold onto long after we are gone.
I feel so strongly about this because of my own story and it is probably what drove me towards photography even from a young age. My family moved to the US as refugees and we arrived with two standard sized suitcases for a family of 6 (later 7, when my youngest brother was born). Our possessions has been looted during political and social upheaval before we moved and that included many of our photos and albums. I have a total of 5 photographs of myself as a baby, a couple of my siblings and absolutely none of my parent’s wedding. Even as a child I remember wanting to use our cheap used film camera to snap photos of everyone. Unfortunately, looking back most of those photos were terribly exposed or cropped...or blurry. But there were some gems here and there which were worth hanging on to.
A few years ago, when I visited my cousin in Australia for the first time they brought out their album. It was like most family albums - the kind you slide 4x6 photos into plastic sleeves. Most of the people in the photos were extended family members I had never met. But then I saw one of my mom with her sisters laughing at something as they sat on a bed - they were maybe in their early 20’s and it was someone’s wedding. And I saw my grandmother when she was in her 40s. I had never seen my grandmother like that - I only was able to meet her when she was already in her 70s. It was a very powerful experience for me and I pored over every detail in the photographs - the bedspread, their shoes, the items on the night stands. I wondered for days and weeks what their daily life was like - the mundane things.
I recently was helping my mom clear out old papers and happened to find her driver’s license from Kenya in one of the boxes. I couldn’t stop looking at it. My mom - now in her late 70’s - looked drop dead gorgeous in her 20’s with her hair coiffed and cat eye glasses. She had this demure but smirky smile like she knew something I didn’t. It sparked this wonder in me about what her life was like before she was my mom - what clothes did she wear, what fun things did she do with her family and friends, what did she look like as a child? I felt this tremendous sadness also though because I didn’t own a single photograph which I could look at beyond her driver’s license. You can only imagine how often I photograph her now that she lives with us.
I already felt strongly about photographing families when I first began my creative journey, but I didn’t understand the full force of my drive until I dug deep into my own story and how not having visual records of my family history has played a part in my road to becoming a photographer.