The Importance of Getting in the Photo

I first met Carrie Geddie at the very first Little Bellows Film workshop several years ago. And instantly I knew she was someone I wanted to get to know more. Fortunately, I've been able to see her and connect more with her several times since. She is a kind soul with an amazing heart and huge talent. Today she is our guest contributor with an important and special post. Read Carrie's words below. (And then take her advice.)

With Mother's Day on Sunday, we have a chance to reflect not only on motherhood, but how we document the mother-child relationship through our art.  I think we commonly look at motherhood photography from the point of view of mom.  Mom is the one that hires us for the session, plans it out, and pays us.  She is our client, right?  Yes, but there is another important point of viewpoint that we often forget - that of her kids.

Right now you probably think I'm crazy.  Kids don't care about the photos!  And maybe you're correct.  Babies and toddlers are certainly not thinking about the photos they'll have after the session, and most school-aged kids probably aren't either (although my boys love to look at the photos we take together!)

What I mean when I talk about point of view is to consider what the images you create today will mean to those children when they become adults.  I always tell my clients that yes, the images we create are for them now, but they are really for their children in the future.

I lost my mother to colon cancer in 2000 when she was only 57 years old.  I wouldn't wish losing a parent on anyone, and I've learned in the years since that it doesn't really matter how old you are when it happens, losing your mom is hard.  While my mom and I were incredibly close, I've also realized that even if you're estranged from your mother, death is final and there are no more chances to change the relationship.  So while my mom's death has undoubtedly been the hardest thing I've gone through, it has also formed me as a mother - and as a photographer.

Not too long ago, I went through our family photo albums in my dad's attic.  I remember these photo albums from my childhood.  On a hot summer day, I'd wander bored into my dad's office and start pulling them off the shelves.  My mom had meticulously put together an album of my dad's family photos from when he was a child, another of her childhood pictures, and then made several albums of our family memories from years of vacations, birthdays, and other milestone events. 

One afternoon last year, I set about to go through the albums again, hoping to find some fun pictures of my mom and I when I was a kid to show my boys.  I found three.  Three.  Oh sure, there were group photos and lots of photos of me with my dad (because my mom was often behind the camera - does this sound familiar?).  But there were only three of just the two of us. 

When I talk to clients or friends (or anyone who will listen, really), I tell them this story.  It is my WHY and it drives me to document those little moments between moms and kids.  I don't share this story with them because I want them to hire me, but because it is so important they think about the creation of family memories from their kids' perspective, too.  As photographers, we create a tangible print or album that a client can hold in their hands.  And when her children stumble on those boxes of prints or albums in the attic years later, they will see their mother's love for them, her touch, and all the hope she had for them.  They will see the sacrifices she made and the way she made them laugh.  How she supported and encouraged them, as only she knew how.

If you think about this perspective when you work with your family clients, I hope your work will take on a richer meaning.  The good thing about it is that you don't have to actually BE a mother to understand it, you just have to have had one yourself.

I know that as photographers, we are usually behind the camera.  I am guilty of this myself.  But as you celebrate Mother's Day on Sunday, I encourage you to get in front of the camera with your kids.  Set up your camera on a tripod with the self-timer, hand the camera over to someone else (hey, full auto mode was invented for a reason), or use a selfie stick, I don't care.  Just start to create that tangible legacy not only for yourself, but for them.

A Day in the Life of a Mompreneur, Part 2

5:00AM-ish: "Mommy, can I come up?" My youngest. At least he asks, but if it's almost morning I always just let him. 

6:00AM-ish: "Mommy, can I come up?" My oldest. I briefly feel thankful for the king bed before I try to drift off again, spooned on each side by tiny warm breath. 

7:00AM: The boys use the "force" to get me up, standing over me with strong grimace faces holding out their hands like a claw. My husband fed them before he left early to work while I slept. I'm feeling my after midnight bedtime pretty hard this morning, vowing to go to bed earlier tonight. But alas, the force is strong with these two, and they got me up and smiling. 

7:15 Dress the boys (it's Bo's "wear what you want to be when you grow up" day at pre-school, and since we can't find the Baymax costume which is what he really wants to be, he settles for the doctor coat he wears at home all the time), clear breakfast plates from the counter, make Sam's lunch (PBJ, shocker). I'm suddenly aware that there hasn't been whining in at least 15 minutes and I realize Sam turned on the rest of some Star Wars movie they watched a bit last night. I'm thankful for distracted kids and the ability to actually drink my coffee WHILE IT'S HOT! I don't know the last time that happened. I can already tell I'm winning today.

7:30 Sit down at the computer to check email and plan IG posts for the day (maybe next few days if this movie keeps going!). Check FB briefly, careful not to get sucked in. It didn't work.

8:10 My phone alarm goes off, it's time to get ready for the bus. I'm surprised time passed so quickly and although there were a few moments where the boys were distracted by kicking each other and I had to play referee, for the most part I feel pretty good about the abnormally unchaotic morning! Yessss!

8:30 Sam's on the bus (we barely made it to the stop on time) and as I drive in reverse back to the house on our long driveway, I smile at him being so damn sweet. Always a giant kiss and a "I love you SO much!" from him. It's one of my favorite parts of the day. But then my alarm goes off and ends that moment abruptly to get Bo ready for school. I could NOT live without my alarms and reminders. I even rely so heavily on my apple watch to tell me when it's time to do things, I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing.

8:45 on the way to Bo's school. He's crying about it because, well, he's 3, so I don't really know why.

9:30 Freedom. It's a great feeling. Now is the time 2 days a week where both boys are in school and I have 1.5 hours before I have to turn around and go pick up Bo. The list of things I could do with this time is long. Email, blog, sew, eat breakfast, shower, make a quick grocery trip, do laundry, vacuum, pick up the playroom, work on my site, work on Little Bellows, edit. I was planning on going to the gym today during this time. But it's rainy, and I'm sore from yesterday. So I go home instead. And since there's no periscope for me today, I'll wait to shower. An hour and a half is NOTHING. So, I eat my oatmeal while working on some marketing and finish my emails. 

11:05 my first alarm goes off to get Bo. Damn that went fast. By the time I made my oatmeal, cleaned up breakfast, made more coffee, I had about an hour to work. I got caught up with email, but man I need more time. 

11:14 second alarm. Ok I have to get out the door. 

11:50 Home from school, and I let Bo do whatever he wants while I make him lunch. I should probably think about my own lunch. We eat, play, and he watches a show before it's time for nap while I go back to my computer. He likes it when I work because he can watch TV. That's what he wrote on his Valentine project for school anyway. It's probably something i should be embarrassed about, but hey, he sees me working. And I think that's a good thing. 

1:30PM Time for nap. It's one of those days. Where he's all laughs and silliness while we read a book and I just know he's not going to sleep. Ugh. I put him down anyway, sternly telling him it's not play time, it's nappy time. Sometimes he'll just talk or sing to himself in his room for  an hour in "quiet time", but today who knows. I come downstairs to get back to my computer.

1:45 His door squeaks open. I ignore it, knowing he'll sit up there waiting for a bit. If I pretend he's sleeping he might really go back to sleep right?

1:50 Wrong. He's coming down stairs. I send him back up telling him this is his nappy time and mommy's work time. Go. To. Bed.

2:10 The door creaks open again. I'm ignoring it.

2:20 Ok, finally through my emails. Man the internet is distracting. Especially when I have facebook open in a tab and I go back in every few minutes to tell Sandra something on messenger. It feels like college all over again when IM would keep me up for hours. 

2:30 I give up on Bo and tell him to get dressed and play somewhere quietly. But alas, his "I'm sorry Mommy"'s and "I really tried to nappy"'sget me and I am talked into a game of Candy Land. He gives up quickly because I didn't let him cheat. (Maybe if you'd have taken a nappy Bo I'd have looked the other way when you wanted to skip ahead to the cupcake world!)

3:55 My alarm goes off to go to the Bus stop. Bo has been playing his ipad and with Sam's legos for about an hour, with many many breaks to come whine for juice or a snack or that he needs a wipe. So there was no steady stream of time for me to really get work done. I edited a few images, poked around looking for new things for the studio, read a few articles online about the election, back and forth on FB to chat, and stared at my blog for a good 20 minutes. Gee. How productive. 

4:20 Sam's off the bus and inside we go. He give me the 25 second recap of what he remembers from the day, which is "I forget". Immediately when he gets in he goes for his ipad, which he can only play after school for 30 minutes. I don't mind, because the boys will play the same game side by side and leave me alone the entire time. I move my laptop in the other room, and get back to work (or is it really just getting started?)

5:15 Whoops, 30 minutes is long up. Should have set a timer. I fight to take them away and start to think about dinner. Boring mac n cheese or boring frozen pizza or boring belly buttons (what we call tortellini). Boring because they only eat those 3 things on rotation. I'm over it, but I dont fight it. Whatever, it's easy. 

7:00 My husband gets home from work and I'm DONE. The dinner time wore me out. The whining, fighting, kicking, crying, time-outing, exhausting, tiring, yelling hour was too much for me. And by the time he gets home almost every night there is smoke coming out my ears. I hide in the other room, while listening to them whine to daddy "where's mommy?" If I cover my ears hard enough I can almost tune them out! Almost.

7:30 I'm out of hiding and back on the computer. Phil does their bath time (for their own safety because at this point in the day it wouldn't be pretty for me up there!) and I know I have some time to myself. I think about what Phil and I will eat for dinner, secretly hoping he wants eggs. I don't feel like making anything at this point in the day. My head is pounding for the 3rd day in a row. I've ignored it all day telling myself I just need more water, but by now I can't open my eyes fully. Ugh. 

8:15 Books read, songs sung, prayer said, doors closed. GOOD. NIGHT. I do like snuggling with them at bedtime. They really are funny and sweet boys. And even after a long, semi annoying day, I genuinely want to hug them good night forever. 

8:30 Phil makes a frozen chinese food dinner and I opt not to eat because my head hurts so bad. I don't think i can get back on the computer to work right now. I am overwhelmed by the number of tabs open on my browser. The number of ideas I had today that I know I'll never be able to get to do. The number of times I was right on the cusp of feeling productive but interrupted by a "mommy" or a scream or a fight or a lego being chucked behind me. I'm discouraged by the lack of blogging I got done, by the fact that I only crossed off 2 things on my to do list, and one of them was eat breakfast. 

9:15 I decide to give in to the day. The headache won. I take 4 ibuprofen and head to bed. I bring my computer just incase laying down a bit makes me want to open it and work. Laying down does help, but I'm allowing myself to shut down the computer and say it's ok. And because my eyes and head and body are so tired, I am fast asleep.

There are days like this when nothing feels productive. When it feels nothing gets done. But I did get things done. Just a lot of little things that need doing every day. Email. Social media marketing. Catching up with friends and colleagues online. Brainstorming about my site and where improvements are needed. Brainstorming ideas for Little Bellows. All of that got done this day.

It's hard not to be down on yourself when there are so many things left on the daily to-do, which inevitably turns into a monthly to-do. I try to give myself some grace. Know when to give my body rest. Staying up until past midnight for over a week straight (and nearly every day for months really) wore my body out and I needed rest. I can't run my family and my business when I'm always going at a 10. I need to slow down to a 4 sometimes. Take it all in, regroup, and refresh. It's a lesson I forget a lot of the time. But I'm working on it.