Monday, 27 February 2017

Savouring those Everyday Moments

It's no secret that more time with those we love is always what we will want more of. In a fast paced world where we are stuck in front of screens or long lists of 'to dos", it's easy to get distracted or think we have all the time in the world. It struck me this weekend that my daughter will be starting school next year which means I won't be able to just pull her out of daycare when I want and spend time with her. The reality of being a photographer means that lots of weekends are split between work and family time. As much as I strive to carve that time out, I'm realizing I have to be more conscious about it. Small things each day can make a difference to maintain those connections. I've put together a list for myself of how I can be more present and savour that time with my family. Simple ideas that I am starting today. I'd love to hear from you if you have any tips that you would like to share.

Go Offline

I was one of those late smart phone adopters. Up until a year and a half ago, I didn't have a cell phone or even a tablet of my own. I had my computer and that was it. I never expected to be in the position I am now where I don't know how I got by without them. As much as these devices are convenient and often necessary for business, they suck away your time and your attention. You hear yourself say 'let me just check one more thing' and then realize you've spent an hour doing nothing of real importance. Turn off the devices for one full day - no checking of emails or texts, no surfing the internet, no photos. Just be truly in the moment.

Have a Real Conversation

At the end of some days, all I want to do is turn my brain off or use that time to check a few things off of my to do list. Life gets busy and sometimes, it's sad to say, I realize I haven't even had a real conversation with my spouse or my kids beyond the "how was your day?" question, the answers to which rarely tell me much anyways. There are some great journals out there (even for kids) that have questions in them for each day of the year or think of your own. Ask each other the question and actually listen to the response. You can also simplify this exercise and ask the same question each day: "what was your favourite thing about today?". Not only does it help to focus on the positive but it may start those interesting conversations that go deeper.

Undivided Attention

Multitasking is a myth. You may be able to do two things at once, but doing them both well is often just not possible. Something is always sacrificed. Give 15 minutes of your undivided attention each day to each of your children. Forget the dishes, that stack of laundry or that report you need to write for just 15 minutes. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Before they became 4

Photographing this family of 3 before the newest addition joins them next month was so touching. Just reading the notes on their fridge was enough to make me tear up. It's those sweet little details and personal touches that tell the real life story of their family. The lucky little boy on the way will be joining a family so full of love and so eager to hold him in their arms. I'm looking forward to meeting the little guy when I return to take newborn photos.

Here's the condensed version of their family session:

Monday, 13 February 2017

Get the Kids Involved: Photography Activities to do with Your Kids

This past weekend my oldest daughter Megan took out her photobooks and wanted me to sit with her to look through the pages. I sat with her for a while and then got up to do a few things around the house. She continued to sit there taking each book out and looking through the pages. I'm not going to lie, to see her pouring over these books of photos that I have taken of us over the years made my day.

When I take my camera out at home, I sometimes get the annoyed: "stop mom, no photos", sometimes they don't notice and other times they want to get in on the action and take photos themselves. They may take 21 photos of the same thing that are blurry and cut off but the point is not a perfect photo. My 3 year old took this portrait of me and I love it.

All of this got me thinking, I need to find ways to encourage this side of my kids and maybe there are others like me. One big thing about photography is that it really helps to develop the "observer" or the "noticer" part of people. It takes you outside of yourself to see things differently, to seek out an interesting perspective and to capture it.

I came up with a few games you can try with your kids that centre around photography. Every child is different and of course these could be adapted depending on the age and abilities of your child/children.

1) Take three photos of random objects around your home. You can do this with your child or you can do it yourself to make it a surprise, or even take turns. Use those three photos to build a story where you incorporate each object into the story.

2) Pick a theme and ask your child to go around to find and take photos of all of those objects that fit the theme. This can be as simple as a colour (find anything green and take a photo of it). You could take turns and see how each of you captured the same theme.

3) Take close up photos of various objects around the house and ask your child to guess what they are.

4) Scroll through that big photo library on your phone and find a photo of your child. Tell them the story behind that photo. You can also ask your child to pick the photo they want to hear about. What were you doing that day? Where were you and who were you with? Kids love to hear their stories and too often those photos get stuck on our phone and our kids never see them. I'm so guilty of this!

5) Ask your child to photograph 5 things they love. Get some of these printed just for them.

6) Let your child be the photographer and document some of your family time together. Ask them to take photos to tell the story of your morning or other routine.

These activities can be done indoors or outdoors and can be a great way to beat that cabin fever if you are stuck inside. They invite your kids to capture the details of the things around them. You may be surprised just how observant kids naturally are.

Do you have another game or activity to add? Let me know about it!