This week as Ben was flipping through a photobook I made for our parents, he commented on how serene the pictures from certain months looked despite the fact that life was extremely stressful and difficult during that time. His comment got me thinking. I often read about how our social media feeds are full of “highlight” posts that don’t reflect the everyday realities of our lives. It also brought to mind a very fascinating article I read in one of my college theater classes that criticized Thomas Kincade for sentimentality that promoted a false image of our world (“I like to portray a world without the Fall” [article here]). There have been a few times during this “project” of mine, and in photographing other families, that I’ve wondered: what does authentic, honest family photography look like?
I prefer candid, minimally staged photography in general. I certainly think there’s real value in capturing the precious, constantly maturing faces and personalities of my children and clients. But I also recognize that I’m more likely to reach for my camera when the lighting is lovely, my kids are dressed and everyone is in a good mood.
In order to counteract this tendency to depict my family as perfect and polished, I intentionally snuck over to my camera during some meltdowns this week. You’ll also see Margaret’s carpet burned nose, Caroline’s band aid covered forehead (she face planted into our gravel driveway this week), and runny, crusty noses. In fact, as I type this, Caroline is snuggled up in our bed watching a Christmas movie while Ben makes a Walgreens run to get some benedryl to treat the hives she broke out in this evening.
You’ll also see some pics from our Christmas visit with Ben’s family. While you’ll see smiling faces, the truth is that there was a lot of heartache as we celebrated our first Christmas without Ben’s Pop. I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I should have because I simply was not in the mood. It felt weird to document a Christmas without him there.