Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things. (Kurt Vonnegut)
When I went hunting for a photographer for our family photos in fall 2015, I was looking for something different, authentic, and timeless. I find a lot of the photography I see when I google "Denver family photographer" to be very period appropriate - there is a specific style of posing, shooting, and editing going around right now, and although it looks lovely now, I am fairly certain that in 10-15 years it will have that goofy, laughable quality that photos from the 80s and 90s have.
I think to myself, you know what photos don't have a goofy, cheesy quality to me? The real ones. When I see a neat vintage photo of my family, whether from my chidhood or even farther back from my mom or dad's childhood, I don't see a dated artifact. I see a glimpse in to the past; it is like a looking glass in to life back when. Even when they are family snapshots. So imagine if a professional took some of those photos that will one day become a portal in to real life back when. Honestly, it gives me goose bumps because what a treasure.
So, back when I was searching in September and October 2015, I started adding "lifestyle" to my googling, and I came across a lot more that was closer to what I was looking for. Then I found Rachel Greiman of Green Chair Stories, and hit the proverbial nail on the efing head. Rachel didn't end up taking our holiday card photos, more for my family's own logistical reasons than anything else, but fast forward to December 28, 2015 and she spent the morning with us capturing us. And it is what I hoped for and more; now we have this collection of photos that gives the intimate and authentic feel of who we are right now - our little family of three. John and I were both blown away by how much we love the photos Rachel took. I am like "we are totally doing this once a year" and then to my surprise John is like "twice a year even!"
Turns out, Rachel has this vision for these slice of life sessions and she is sharing this vision for how important this style of photography is to a family's story. Needless to say, I agree. Recently Rachel has been posting a series on her blog, her own posts and guest posts about the value of this type of photography and why it is such a treasure. One particular guest post, particularly resonated with me. Marie Masse guest posted The Invisible Change of Growing Up. Just the title of the post capture the feels I was having and described above - the feeling of capturing something intangible and fleeting ("the days are long, but the years are short" sort of a thing).
Specifically, Marie said:
The kids come into the bedroom, “It’s time to get up mom and dad!” The coffee is poured. Dad makes breakfast and the smell of bacon in the morning is an iconic scent of a day to be spent with family … and the rest of the day is your playground together. I want you to picture it right now: what would you likely do together on a day like this? Some chores and then maybe some TV and togetherness? Get out and go exploring? Attend one of the kids’ sporting events? Take a drive to Grandma and Grandpa’s? Whatever your answer is, there is no right or wrong, however make no mistake: your answer is important.
You get back to work and a colleague asked, “What did you do this weekend?”
It’s easy for us to shift into “Oh nothing much, just hung out with the family. How about you?” If this sounds familiar, with that simple response, you just unintentionally devalued the time with your family. You see, we put a lot of merit into the big things—such as birthday parties, when our kids begin school, going on vacations, and graduation. And yes, the big events and changes in life are meant to be celebrated. They are the easy way to recognize a big change and new beginnings. I think this happens, because we are spending so much of our lives working towards something. We forget that our lives, very important pieces of our lives, are happening right now each and every day.
Now I want you to think back to your “just one mores” in life. If you could pick any experiences from your life to experience just one more time, what would that be? Would you want “just one more” birthday party? Start of the school year? Vacation to Sea World? Graduation? You may be thinking, “Well sure, Marie, that was all fun! I’d love to do it again!”
Given the choice, my “just one mores” would look different and I’ll bet you can relate.
The truth is, when I look back at birthday parties, vacations, beginning a new school year and graduation ... they were outside of the norm. All were certainly positive experiences, but they were new and full of change. When I look back at my life, the experiences that have really stuck with me, vividly for now, are the small bits of time shared with my family. It is in the slow, almost invisible changes we see with a case of the Monday, “We didn’t do much this weekend” that in reality filters our memory with the “just one mores.”
It's pretty powerful stuff. It give you those goosebumps I mentioned. And it puts things in perspective (at least for me). It is a reminder of something I think of often: my priorities. My priorities on a daily basis, to live in the now, to live intentionally. Not to miss a thing.
Read Marie's full post on Green Chair Stories' blog here.
Rachel Greiman is a Denver-based photographer and tells stories with the photos she takes.
The photos in this post are from our December 2015 session with Rachel; see more here.
Marie Masse is a Michigan-based documentary photographer and also helps other photographers learn how to shoot these types of sessions and run them as a business.