When I was a kid, my dad refused to let us become stagnant. We would visit the Village in NYC nearly every weekend. We would walk down the cobblestone roads, visit the bakery, check out the shops & just be together. Looking back now, I see that it wasn’t the money he spent on us, because he didn’t have much and he didn’t spend much on these trips, it was the time that he spent with us that made all the difference. 25 years ago (I seriously can’t believe that I’m 35!) the George Washington Bridge was only a couple of dollars to cross, parking could be found after a couple laps around the block and, being NYC, there was an endless supply of things to see.
When we weren’t traipsing around the city, we were exploring the woods. This is where I truly have always felt at home. I can envision a little fairy village or the perfect spot for a salamander family, still to this day. I imagine the best place to live if I were to be shrunken down small and free. Moss as my carpet, a leaf as my roof, tiny pools and trickles the perfect playground. The lost boys in Peter Pan come to life in the forest. These are the memories I want for my children. Battling I pads and I pods, Teen Titan Go, Paw Patrol & the Ninja Turtles is daunting and a daily notch on to-do list.
I want them to have nature as a natural stress reliever, I want the sun to soothe their souls and the breeze to give them life. It’s something that nearly three decades can’t rob from you.
As much as I absolutely adore in-home family sessions and newborn sessions and birth sessions, I leave feeling out of breath, I feel like I am leaving the gym. It’s not because my sessions are strenuous, my sessions are really enjoyable and fun! I absolutely LOVE them. It’s just that in the woods I feel like I can breathe, in the water I feel like my fire burns brighter, in the wide open spaces I feel free! I have never once had an inquiry for a session in the woods or in the stream and I can’t make sense of it. I recently found a text graphic on the web that said, “Be true to yourself and people will show up”. For me, that’s spending as much time as possible in nature. My favorite photos of my people come from being out among the trees. I’ve ironed out the logistics and planted my feet firmly in the soil.
The forest can be tricky, though. Dappled light isn’t recommended… it’s hardly even desirable. Being near water is helpful, the natural reflector makes for excellent scenery and it provides a spotlight on the Earth’s stage.
Even if your light is 100% dappled and there are weird shadows across your subjects, the water can save your photo if you compose properly. It provides life and movement and highlights your subject perfectly.
I don’t find tiny imperfections make me disappointed, either. It’s true to the environment and the moment and helps us feel the story we are watching unfold. Big brother, little brother. Little hands that are growing too fast. Cool water over hot feet in the summer when one was 9.5 & one was 3.
Waterside hangouts, friends and throwing rocks.
Focus inward. Find the sentiment that you want to remember. Compose. Snap.
Recompose. Snap. Bring your remote and forget to use it because the beauty is too much to process in the present.
This mama here is holding the beginning of my newborn photography journey. The tiny nugget in her lap was my very first in-home newborn session and the family was more than I could have asked for. It took us an entire year, a ton of heartache and quite a few shared parenting ideals for us to get to this moment, next to the water, praising the purpose.
You see, everything has a purpose. Dappled light and natural water reflection. Sunlight peaking between branches in mid-afternoon. Finding the wrong place along the stream, and then finding the right one. Sharing flip flops to save feet and ankles. Shadows and highlights and the precise depth of field. Even forgetting to adjust your shutter speed for the “grand finale” photo.
It all has a purpose. It is up to us to see it, capture it & give it words.