The bonds of a family are strong. Family is supposed to be the one place where you feel secure and safe.
This family is not only beautiful, but their love casts a strong safety net. They look out for each other, and even as young as the kids are, they know– without a doubt– that this is their safe space.
Also, can I remark on how Mom has this amazing outlook on life? I can’t even imagine the chaos of life with twin toddlers- One toddler at a time was enough to make me crazy at certain points. But this Mama takes it all in stride and has this laid back attitude of not fighting the chaos, but just letting herself get carried along with the current. It’s a beautiful attitude and I’m trying to take this life lesson and reflect it back to my own family. Don’t fight the chaos (which is stressful) when you can just relax and enjoy the crazy ride of life. It seems so simple, but this was a huge revelation to me!
Back to safe spaces. This little guy got overwhelmed during the session. I can’t blame him- to be a toddler is probably overwhelming enough with all the directions and rules keeping you from doing what you want. But on top of that, it was a new environment, a new person close by, with a strange black box she kept hiding behind. New games and instructions to follow, and for a moment it was just all too much.
Here is where it got interesting. He stopped and tried to find his safe space again, laying facedown on the ground to block out all the new stuff competing for attention. Immediately, big sister came to his side and placed a reassuring hand on his back. She spoke quietly and soothingly to him. She’s only 4, and look at what a heart she has!
After some time, he retreated to the safest space of all- Mama’s arms. They cuddled quietly for a moment. Mom instinctively knew what he needed and there was no pressure to snap out of it to keep the portrait session moving. She wrapped her arms around him and gave him the time he needed, while Dad played with his sisters. This is unconditional love. This is beauty.
He recovered with a little time and we moved on to get some beautiful portraits. If we had rushed him, he probably would have never recovered enough to feel completely comfortable. It was the safety net of family that helped him. Everyone pitches in together. All five of them moved like a choreographed dance, working together in love. I’m sure it may not have felt like that with two toddlers going in different directions, but to me- the observer, taking a step back to soak it all in- they worked in concert.
Every family is different. Every family expresses love in different ways. Some like boisterous activity, shrieking in joy as we run from one game to the next, keeping on my toes. Others are quiet, needing slow movements and gentle voices. Snuggling, not running. There is no wrong way.
I’ve said it before, but it’s especially true here. Your session- especially if a toddler or two is involved- will feel like chaos. It may not seem like I’m getting anything. But I promise you that I am. A camera captures the barest millisecond of life. A brief moment in an on-going scene. Take this mama’s approach and just go with the flow. Because those milliseconds are there, hiding in the chaos. Moments like this above, where everyone was walking in different directions and honestly- walking together is boring. But the millisecond was there, and we were able to find this moment.
And sometimes it’s about cropping out the chaos. I believe in celebrating the origins of the family- Mom and Dad, together. The anchor point of it all. But let’s be honest, getting a photo of Mom and Dad alone when you have three little ones who want to be held…. can be tricky.
This is what really happened. There was a lot of action going on waist-down. One daughter had wedged herself between them, wanting to be picked up. Son was walking in circles around them, trying to also get picked up. And the oldest daughter was telling a long and delightfully complicated story to us all, hanging on Dad. So don’t worry, I can crop out the chaos- but I may also photograph it so you have the physical memory of how life really was when your kids were this small.