At the end of 2014 I joined a Facebook group for Molly Flanagan’s Visual Storytelling class which I had taken through The Define School. The group is made up of class alumni, photographers, and mostly women, who are exploring a different way to photograph families. At the time I had been heading a more documentary direction for my photographs, recognizing that I got the most joy from playing the role of observer and documentarian in my own family’s life and particularly with my daughter. My favorite photos have always been those won by waiting and watching vs. manipulating a scene. And while I love my daughter’s cheesy grin and thousand-watt smile, I also find that my heart beats a little faster when I pull my photos into my computer and see her lost in a book, sleepy and cozy on the couch, or deep in conversation with her toys, almost unaware of the camera. She doesn’t smile all the time and, since I love her all the times, I love photos that capture those moments too.
So when a group of other students asked if anyone would like to create a group that showcases, on a weekly basis, this exact kind of photography, photography of real, imperfect, sometimes messy, family stories, I jumped at the chance to join.
Sham of the Perfect was born and, I can’t believe it, we have now reached our one year anniversary!
Staying on top of a daily or weekly project has always been hard for me. My brain and life tends to run in a thousand different directions at once and I always seem to find myself at Sunday wondering where the heck the week went. I’m really great at delivering on time for my clients but not so good at keeping to deadlines for personal projects. Having a weekly deadline to post, and a dozen other photographers counting on me to keep my commitment, was just what I needed to stick at it.
And now I have 52 photos of our 2015. A wonderful way to look back on our year.
The project continues in 2016 and you can follow along on the website, Facebook, or our Instagram feed, which I moderate from time to time. This week’s post, where you can see the images from every member of our collective, can be found here.
Hands-down, this next photo is my favorite from the year. I love the perspective, the sense of movement, her hair flying in her face.
What struck me most in putting together this post was how many of these photos from 6,7,8 months ago felt like I took them just yesterday. I found myself frowning at the computer screen, thinking That can’t possibly be 6 months ago… can it? As much as photography freezes time for us, it can also serve as a stark reminder of how quickly that time actually passes.
My next step is going to be pulling these images together into a small book of our year. I’d love to have something tangible to look back on with my daughter and maybe someday her children, to spark conversations and anecdotes about memories of our life right now. I always encourage my clients to do this instead of or in addition to purchasing digital images. I can’t even begin to tell you what a time suck it is to cull and house all the digital images that I have of our family. It really makes me not want to look at them. Conversely, I loved thumbing through albums when I was a child. This year I’m going to do a better job of remembering that and living by those same standards.