I have always gotten so excited to photograph other people's kids. It wasn't until recently when I was reflecting on what cute and adorable photos I have of my nieces that I realized I didn't have nearly as many of my own kids. It's that old adage "the carpenters house is never finished." That's exactly what taking photos of my own family have been like.
After having that realization, I decided that I am going to partake in a P52 Project. The premise of this project is to intentionally go out and photograph something not related to your work or typical portfolio for 52 weeks of the year. The idea is that it will make you a better photographer by forcing you to grow, engaging you in passion projects and helping you learn new techniques and skills along the way.
However, it's already the third week of January and I've only taken my camera out twice to photograph something that wasn't for a client. So I'm being realistic with myself and allowing myself the space to work on this project in one month increments, instead of one week at a time. So this is the first chapter of a project entitled P12: A Year With the Klassens.
Here's what I learned from photographing my kids this month:
Parenting is hard. I took my camera out because my kids were driving me nuts and I needed to focus on something that makes me happy, instead of breaking up another disagreement between them. I don't have any siblings, so I often feel at a loss of how to handle these situations, and I constantly feel like I'm just muddling through them the best I can. But seeing my kids through my camera lens really forced me to stop and slow down and see the beauty in the situation.
I was forced to focus on the details that are often overlooked as a parent
It was like a sigh of relief being able to have the camera as a barrier between me and them. I could physically feel my body relaxing because I was doing something I love to do. It was interesting because this actually made me enjoy what I normally find to be really tough as a parent: figuring out what we're going to play, and breaking up their arguments. Instead of focusing on the negative parts of the situation, I was forced to find the story in the moment, and actually really focus on the little, beautiful, details that are often overlooked as a parent. To watch my oldest drive his little cars around the whole house, to watch my youngest be absolutely fascinated by that and try to copy his every move. To see how each moment was equally important to both kids for totally different reasons was something I hadn't truly stopped to appreciate before.
Watching my kids running through the kitchen and the living room, with their capes tied around their necks, made me laugh. I loved how they wanted to have their picture taken (something they haven't learned to dislike yet as photographers children, so clearly you can tell I'm not taking their pictures nearly enough!) and wanted to see the back of the camera to look at their photos. It was really neat to share my excitement about their photos with them. And laughing felt really good.
It's okay to think they're funny and let them know
I don't find myself laughing enough as a parent. Every situation feels so critically important for their development, that I don't want to laugh at the wrong thing and hurt their egos, or laugh at the wrong thing and have them continue to do that same behaviour 100 more times because it gets a rise out of me. But I realized while photographing them that it's okay to think they're funny and let them know
I know that probably sounds stupid, but as their mom I have not yet felt like it was okay to think they're funny and reveal that to them. I often hide my laughter behind cupped hands, or I walk away into another room before I crack a smile. I don't really know why I'm like that with them. And I wasn't even entirely aware of it until I couldn't help but laugh at their antics, and then we were all giggling. I realized in that moment that maybe parenting feels so hard sometimes because there aren't enough moments like these ones. And maybe there aren't enough moments like these ones, because I'm not open to experiencing them.
I've always been a big believer of being plugged into your kids and not your devices, so that's the surprising truth I learned when I brought out my camera. Now I am actually really looking forward to taking my camera out again and photographing my family. I'll keep you posted on what I learn next time on the P12 Project!