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June 25th, 2018 | Baby,Family,Shoots | Subcribe to RSS

I’ve been thinking about family shoots and the way I’m approaching it more and more that last couple of months. Yes, an all smiley family picture where everyone is looking at the camera is great. (Especially if you actually manage it with kids :)) But…that is not the part that makes my heart excited about families and family-life.

I’ve been thinking about my personal favorite images while growing up. (Most all of my albums got stolen, but that story is for another day.) Many times these specific images give little clues of the whereabouts e.g. where we lived and the things that was a trademarks of my age…or your parent’s age. One of my most prized images of my late dad, is one where you can see his deep laughing wrinkles. Was it his best angle? No. Could I see his wrinkles? Yes :) Does it make my heart feel something? Absolutely YES!

After the shoot with Wade, Gretchen and Guinnie (isn’t her name the best!?) Gretchen and I talked over coffee and some of her mom’s home made cookies. She told me a bit about her fears around the shoot and everything that isn’t quite “Pinterest looking.” The funny thing is, I registered 90% of those same fears just before I had a shoot done for my new site’s portraits. Some of them “valid” (because  everything ‘needs to be perfect’) but most of them just fears because I measured myself to others. It made me think of this quote: “many people fail because they try to copy others, not realizing that everyone has a different question paper.”

And back to the family shoots – it is exactly the fact that every family is so unique, that makes me enjoy shooting it so much.
So please allow your you-ness to shine. It gives the world so much flavour…

Grethen was so awesome to write down some of her thoughts. Please make sure to read it below the images!

Dankie Gretchen + Wade. That I could photograph you, get to meet you and that you were so brave in all of this. I looooooved your family’s flavour! :P

The image on the left is Gretchen and her mom. Isn’t this just extra special?

 

Reflections on our family shoot with Lizelle Lötter (By Gretchen) 

We recently invited Lizelle to do a photoshoot with our family.  I was so excited to finally get some photos that we could proudly show off, the only question was where to take them. I had hoped to take the photos at home. It is the house I grew up in and having my daughter grow up in the same house is very special to me. I thought about all the wonderful shots we could recreate, moments that were captured when I was a toddler that we could shoot now with my daughter.

But if we were to shoot the photos in the house, a couple of things needed to happen first. The most important would be that we needed to clean the house. Now don’t get me wrong, we clean our house most days, but if you’ve ever had a toddler or in our case, a one-year-old, you know that clean just doesn’t stay clean for very long with little ones. So really, what we needed was someone to clean the house just moments before Lizelle would arrive and then we could throw open our doors and photograph our beautiful and loving family in our perfectly clean home. And as unlikely as that was to happen, there was more. If we were going to clean the house first, maybe we also needed to patch the cracks in the walls and deal with the areas of the house that needed repainting before we could take photos in the house.

After about 24 hours of these overwhelming thoughts, I came to a very simple and easy conclusion: we simply would not take photos in the house. If we took the photos somewhere else, I wasn’t responsible for the paintwork or the mess or anything else to do with the location. This soothed me, for about five minutes. And then I found a new problem… I might have solved the issue of location, but what about what we were going to wear? Did we all have something to wear that said polished and cohesive unit, that look good together and that toned but didn’t overly match. Our outfits needed to say trendy but grounded, glam but family orientated, and what on earth were we going to wear that was going to communicate all of this? Much like I felt about the mess in the house, I started thinking about my post-baby body. It most definitely doesn’t say active mom who gyms three times a week, it says mom still in the process of bouncing back and mostly busy cleaning up mess and running after a baby. So, the body wasn’t great and I have very few items of clothing that are not stained, stretched out or have holes. Parenting is seriously rough on your clothes!

I came to the conclusion several times in the days and weeks leading up to the shoot, that maybe it would just be better to cancel the whole thing. No shoot meant no embarrassing evidence of any of the imperfections that make up my life as a mom. But of course, it also meant no lasting photos of the best things in my life. No photos that documented my family, messy and slightly dishevelled as we may be at times.

And so, we went through with it. The baby spilled something on her top moments before the shoot, I realised with horror that my concealer no longer matched my skin tone – having not worn makeup for a year and my husband found a hole in my jersey literally while Lizelle was downstairs waiting for us.

And yet, the moment Lizelle started shooting, none of that mattered. We shot in the house, mess and all, we figured out how to use the baby’s snacks as part of the photos and the hole was (hopefully) unnoticeable in the photos.

We spend a tremendous amount of time as moms and women obsessing over the things that make us less-than. The things in life that are not perfect and that which could be done better. And all those things just keep piling up until you can’t even see what’s important in our lives because all that we can see is our supposed shortcomings.

Shooting with Lizelle was tremendously liberating. She managed to cut right to the heart of why we were shooting, to capture our love and document the magic of everyday family life in all it’s messy, raw beauty. I didn’t expect to feel confident and poised and much less, beautiful during the shoot. And I certainly didn’t expect to want to show off the house’s or my own imperfections. But I did. In the moment, this crazy daring came over me and I wanted to let it all hang out, as they say, because I realised that the mess and the chaos and even my less than perfect post-baby body are the things that make up our current reality. They are what make up our lives as parents and as a family. And that’s where the magic is, the epicentre of who and what we are now and that is exactly what I wanted captured.

Lizelle managed to change all my perceptions about so-called perfection without saying a word. She didn’t tell me not to do certain things or not to worry about how things looked, she never once told me what not to do. But rather, she managed it simply through her warmth and how at ease she was in our mayhem. She didn’t mind the toys strewn across the floor, she just picked up her camera and started shooting. It takes a certain kind of person to capture the magic of everyday, someone who sees beauty in the clouds and possibility in chaos. And Lizelle most certainly has that gift!

The shoot was a wonderful and empowering experience from start to end. It changed my perception of how I’ll document my daughter’s childhood and my own journey as a mother. From here on out, I won’t worry so much about how things look, but focus rather on how they feel, because no matter how we look in the photos Lizelle took of us, I’ll always remember the way we felt about one another and ourselves whilst we were taking them.

 

Thank you Gretchen for sharing!!!! <3

let me know what you think

  • Darren
    June 26th, 20188:32 am

    Such a great post from both perspectives – Full of honesty and warmth. Thank you for sharing :)

    The images are beautiful (of course). Very special.

  • Tertia Venter
    June 26th, 201812:27 pm

    Pragtig!

  • Natascha Olivier
    June 28th, 201811:24 am

    I loved it! Dis so lekker om te hoor almal sukkel met dieselfde worries oor hoe mens lyk en vertoon, want jy wil tog net die beste lyk op iets wat verewig gaan hou. Maar mens wil ook real wees en jou tyd vasvang eerlik. Dankie vir dit!

  • Marga
    August 17th, 201812:14 pm

    Dit is so ‘n fantastiese getuienis. Net die gedagte aan ‘n familie shoot, laat my kop draai. Dankie vir die deel!