In this blog post, I gush all over why family documentary photography is fantastic. Well, at least I hope it’s clear from this mother and her daughter session during some very special self-care time, that I am in love with photographing the everyday bonds that exist in families.
But before I show you the photographs, let’s circle back to the beginning.
When I was still in academia back in 2014, we began a project to explore family routines and the effects they have on child development. In fact, my wonderful PhD student Elize, whom I photographed getting married this past September in the Netherlands, is still doing this research.
Family routines for us included things like bedtime routines, mealtimes, etc.
As a family photographer, I have a broader interest in family routines & traditions.
I have now photographed over one hundred families in Ontario and abroad. Each family is unique. I love this about the work I do. Because I am a documentary family photographer (also referred to as a “photojournalistic family photographer”, or more colloquially known as a “candid photographer”), I am interested in capturing what is real. Real life, real moments. For real. REALLY.
Since I was a child, I have always been an observer. I love to watch people. I’m just fascinated by it all. I experience their emotions – joy, thrill, hope, and of course, sadness - by observing. And now, by photographing.
I am also fascinated by the interesting ways in which people create meaning and traditions in their families. Some traditions are old, and some brand new. Most traditions involve at least two people, and that is why they are meaningful: They bring people together.
Some traditions are for the younger people in a family – for the children. In that case, even if you no longer participate in these traditions, even when you outgrow them, it is a joy to watch other people participating.
Most traditions are for everyone in the family. In that way they are inclusive. Everyone feels welcome. Everyone has a chance to spend time together.
Recently, I wanted to capture some family traditions around the Kingston area.
I put out a call for stories about people’s traditions. I got many wonderful responses. People described ice-skating on the lake with multiple generations in their family, followed by hot chocolate and home-made spaghetti. Others talked about canning litres of applesauce each fall. Families talked about spending holidays with the in-laws, or having movie nights with popcorn, or cooking a big Polish feast, or celebrating day of the dead with homemade bread.
I loved all the stories. It was very difficult to choose which family to photograph. I ended up choosing two. Today, I present the photographs from one of those two. The other family’s tradition involves a winter solstice walk, which happens on… winter solstice – Dec 21nd this year. I look forward to photographing them and showing you the photographs at the end of the month!
And now, without further ado, I present you the tradition of Selena and her daughter.
“My daughter and I have a weekly self-love tradition…
I noticed she had started to talk a lot about beauty linked to accessories (dresses, necklaces, shoes) as she discovered princesses etc at daycare, so this was a great time to discuss what we as a family think beauty means.
She also had lots of questions about me/my body when I was pregnant with my son and after he arrived.
The ritual changes - sometimes it's just a bath together, sometimes we trim and paint our nails, soak our feet and do a pedicure, moisturize with lotion or homemade face masks, whatever we need.
I hope she's learning to slow down and take care of herself, and that when she does encounter negative body image stuff, this time and these talks give her some extra ammo to fight against it.”
There are lots of deep themes Selena hopes to address through these self-care traditions. Beauty. Self-love. Acceptance.
I think her daughter is mostly in it for the oats & honey mask ;)
After photographing their time together, though, I just know, that as she grows, Selena’s daughter will come to view this special time with her mother as irreplaceable and magical. I’m sure it will leave really positive memories for decades to come.
I hope you enjoy the photographs. I hope you share your family’s traditions (in a comment below!), or start a new one!
Take good care. :)