It was October of 2002. We had just moved into a new home. Adam had hit the terrible two’s and Haley was 6 month’s old. My house was destroyed and my mommy self was frazzled.
So when the cable man showed up to install our cable I immediately felt the need to explain and apologize. Keeping our small little home un-toy cluttered was harder and more pointless than shoveling snow in a blizzard.
The conversation went something like this:
Me: ” I am soooo sorry about the toys and kid mess going on in here! It is out of control I am afraid.”
Cable guy: In his sweet, southern, older gentleman accent “Ma’am don’t you worry. I can always tell the moment I walk into a home what there priorities are in life. Their stuff or their children. It is clear your priorities lie with your children and family.”
I was floored that this stranger was so kind as to give me the validation that every young mother needs that she is indeed doing “ok” and that her messy, kid filled home isn’t a sign of being a bad mother. The years passed by and the toys have since moved out of the living room. I had my doubts that would ever happen. But see these kids grow up, fast. The things that seemed so important and stressful…like that a toy filled living room just aren’t.
Now I am a location photographer. I have been in hundreds of homes over the years and what the Cable man said is indeed very true. I can read a family fairly well within a few steps of walking into a home. I can tell what is important to them. Does this mean I am “judging” them? Heck no! Just means I can better understand what images are going to fit their personal decor needs and how I can help them fit family photography into their homes.
Many of my clients and friends these days will not put a single thing on their wall without consulting their interior designer. I gladly work with them and love the opportunity to educate them on why family images on a wall can and are “art” every bit as much as the $2000 piece of artwork they would prefer their client purchase to complete a room. I have spent many an hour explaining the old adage of your home being on fire and if you had time to grab one item…would it be the “Monet” or your child’s baby images? For me it would be the family pics without a doubt. To me they are more valuable than gold.
When I walk into my home I love that every corner is filled with some snapshot or object that instantly brings forward a fun memory of a favorite time. As it stands right now I could really use a new bedroom suite…what a girl wouldn’t do for a a matching set of drawers and dressers. But if you came to me tomorrow and said “here is the money for a new bedroom suite or a trip to Disney World with the family.” Hands down I would take the money and go on a family trip to Disney. I know without a doubt that the time spent with my family will give me memories that will last a lifetime and can bring light to a future very bad day. While new furniture is great, let’s face it, 20 years down the road it will be either in a landfill or a thrift store totally forgotten. If I had money to do both I would be over joyed but as of today there would be the choice to make.
So many families prefer the stuff over the children and families these days it is a bit disturbing. We wonder why children are all about the “stuff” and wanting more and the best. It is a learned behavior. If what they see you “value” is your home decor and stuff…this in turn is what they will value as well. Just my opinion and not set in stone. Something to keep in mind though if you find yourself concerned with your child’s need for the newest, biggest, best shiny new “thing”. Ask yourself if you are the same way? Do you have to always have the best furniture, the best artwork, the best yard on the block, most expensive car, designer clothes? If it is a teen asking for those things, granted their friends are playing into the demand but the younger the child asking the more you may want to figure out where they are picking it up.
So to be fair I will share what is on a few of my walls and tables and the basic “family clutter” that we call Home. These images aren’t the best…but you get the idea
This is as you walk in the front door on the right. I love this series of the two
of them. The image on the far left was taken when Haley was about two and
is one of my first indoor natural light shots. Same with Adam’s on the far right. We sat in the front room for hours, them allowing me to practice this thing called “directional light” and mastering exposure. We had so much fun! The two large images are from this Fall from a Hasselblad 500 film back camera that a good friend let me borrow. The kids and I had so much fun that day working with a “real film camera”! Adam was all about it. And then the middle was from last Fall when we went out playing with one of my photography friends. We had so much fun playing in the city leaves! Each image brings forward a full memory of the days and the laughter behind each image.
I love our “hand picked” family members. We have hand picked “aunt’s” ,
“Uncle’s, and even “grandparents”. With most of my side of the family
being deceased these hand chosen family members hold a very high place in our household. We love them all and they love our children. Anyone who loves my children will always have a place in our family. And of course a place on our walls, tables and albums. We have found that our close relationships with folks who have chosen to be in our lives as well often give our kids that feel of community that is hard to find these days.
The little hand carved wooden animals were all brought back from Africa by Uncle Mikey for the kids. We had so much fun listening to the adventures he had and looking at pictures, he even had me make a scrapbook album of his trip for him.
The little candle’s were made this Summer at Busch Garden’s on a “daddy day”. They brought them home to me and told me they missed me
And then the little spotted porcelain dog on the right was hand painted by Haley last year on a trip we took to a pottery painting store. We had so much fun!
At the bottom…my mom’s hand painted plate. My mother had so much artsy talent. I will never forget her declaring she was going to take a China painting class at the local craft store. She came home with some of the most beautiful pieces of china. Little tea sets and jewelry boxes. All things I wish I still had But at least I have this plate…for that I am thankful.
So there it is… Maybe one day I will share the upstairs walls but the lighting is terrible up there. If you are someone who would have a family photo session done more often or even takes photos on your own but you have no idea what to do with them, fear not. With so many amazing products on the market now there is no reason to not be sharing your families memories in a tasteful, and artsy way.
Building portrait walls would have to be every photographers favorite way of sharing their images. Where to start with that? Walk into any store that sells frames in all sizes and shapes. I tend to go to Michael’s personally. I will then start pulling all the frames down on the floor and “building my wall” on the floor. Yes, I take up the entire isle but often I have others commenting and even helping me figure out what looks best. I smile and laugh and well…smiles are contagious;-) It is the perfect way for me to see how the frames look all laid out and side by side though. Then once I have found my “wall” I purchase the prints and hang the wall in my home. As the children grow year after year I simply add the next print in front of the old. If the old print was 8×10 or under it will go in an album. Now they actually even have an 11×14 self mount album ( that I love) at Finao that allows me to add my children’s old 11×14′s as I take them out of the frames each time. I have in turn passed this trick onto my clients. I try to keep my children’s albums separate so that one day when they leave home they can have there album, keeping any family fighting over images at a minimum.
For 4×6 images I print them and add them to albums that are the slip in. I normally go for the ones at Target (like the first image in this article) because it allows me to add little bits of paper explaining an event or doing a bit of journal ling. I used to scrapbook years ago…oh how I miss scrapbooking…and these albums allow me to still print the hundreds of family images I take and put them in a format I can easily share with others. What’s not to love?!