As much as I can’t imagine having four children of my own, I love photographing larger families. There are so many dynamics to capture, so much kid-like energy flowing through every moment. Often, we grown-ups lessen the joy in a session because we’re working so hard for perfect, for best behavior, for not messing up our Sunday best clothes. We stifle the moments of best connection when we’re worried about these things. When the moments between more directed shots are full of admonishments in preparation for the next shot, we miss something vital about who we are as a family, beyond the photo-ready smiles.
In larger families, I find there tends to be a certain surrender to the moment. Outnumbered and with life bringing you to the hard realization that you can’t control everything all the time, a certain freedom emerges. Not to let kids misbehave or be obnoxious necessarily but to stop controlling the moment to defend against the possibility. To let kids run and roam and climb and… be kids. Somewhere in this surrender, this liberty, I see the grown-ups relax too. I see honest smiles, I see real connection, I see the fabric of a family woven in front of my eyes and through the images they capture.
Thank you to the Patterson family for reminding me of how good that can be.