Originally published in Posh Seven Magazine.
We’ve all heard it before,“The days are long, but the years are short.”
As mothers, we’re continually reminded that time with our children is fleeting. We do our best to cling to the sweet moments and imprint them into our minds as we blink away tears of exhaustion on our most challenging days. We often feel like we’re not “present” if we snap photos of our children in an effort to make time stand still. How do we manage not to forget the small moments that make up our lives as mothers? How can we invest in these memories?
Maybe you’re on top of things this year and you’ve done your job to book an annual family portrait session. You can check holiday cards and grandparent gifts off your to-do list. Then once you’ve chosen the perfect outfits and location, you cross your fingers and visualize everyone cooperating that day to get the “money shot” to smile for at least one amazing family photo. Everyone knows that’s the ultimate goal of traditional portrait sessions.
But in 10 or 20 years, when you look back at your perfectly posed family portraits, will you remember the mother that you are now? Will you see a mother who rocked her teething babies at night and kissed their foreheads? Will you see a mother who played on the floor with her infant and washed and fed and loved fiercely from the moment she first laid eyes on them?
Traditional photography sessions are a great way to remember the various ages and stages of your children, but if you’re looking for more spontaneity in the documentation of those endearing moments, you might consider a style of photography that will highlight your role as a mother and honor your unique story as a family.
Documentary photography has become popular as families grasp for authenticity in their busy lives. It’s a photojournalistic approach to storytelling and capturing the every day. Documentary photographers will spend hours, or in some cases even a full day, with families observing and photographing or taking video clips. The focus is on natural and organic connections and the tender family moments that frequently go overlooked in traditional family sessions. It is here where motherhood can shine, captured as something that will be cherished for generations.
Documenting moments in motherhood can be accomplished in several ways. Here are some options you have in telling your family story:
Documentary maternity sessions celebrate the miracle of growing new life in the context of your current environment. It incorporates your partner, your home, excited siblings, curious pets, and your steadfast role as mother while highlighting your changing shape and the general family emotions surrounding your pregnancy.
Birth photography is quickly becoming a popular choice for parents who understand that birth is not just a process, but a highly emotional experience to be celebrated. Parents want to be present for a birth without feeling anxious that they may one day forget what an incredible experience it was to bring a child into the world. Hiring a birth photographer allows priceless details of the event to be remembered, like a mother’s strength, emotions in labor, a partner’s first glimpse, support from loved ones, baby’s first breath, and those precious first moments and hours as a new family.
Baby and Child.
Infant and child sessions focus on daily life as a family and capture the personalities of each member. Although these are family sessions, they naturally highlight the mother and child dynamic. They might feature babywearing, breastfeeding, playing, and other details that tell your story as a family.
These sessions are also great for older kids, where perhaps your story will be about Saturday morning pancake breakfast and soccer games. No matter the age, this is your family, your story, and it is worthy of being remembered.
Consider giving the gift of documented time together to grandparents. It’s such a meaningful gesture, and one that promises to be treasured for generations. Some ideas to have documented are family reunions, going to ice cream with grandparents, cooking or enjoying a hobby with grandma or grandpa, or simply spending time in their home with its rich history and familiarity.
We mothers are so often found behind the camera, taking photos of how we see our babies while they grow up before our eyes. We deserve to be in the frame not only for ourselves to remember when the kids have grown up and moved on, but also as a time capsule so that we’re able to offer our children and grandchildren a glimpse into what life was like for mothers in our day.
A good storytelling photographer will take the lead and will know how to quietly observe while creating images that convey the unique, nurturing role and natural beauty of each mother. So this year, skip the stress, bribes, fancy outfits, and whining—all hallmarks of the typical family portrait session—and consider investing in a documentary photographer who’s trained to capture the essence of you and each of your loved ones. Find a photographer who will tell your story with honesty, beauty, and creativity. You deserve it.