Fifteen Januarys ago, I, along with some friends, embarked on a personal project – a month-long journey to document one photo a day of my children.
Little did I know that this simple undertaking would evolve into a cherished tradition, reconfirming and re-igniting my passion for photography year after year.
In those early days, as a new photographer and a new parent, I was seeking a way to connect with the reason of why I fell in love with photography. The project became my sanctuary, a place where I could immerse myself in the world of my children and witness the profound beauty of their ordinary moments. I had just begun my photography business, and amidst the exhilaration and challenges of building it from scratch, this project served as my anchor, grounding me in the love, joy, and authenticity of my tiny humans.
The Power of Personal Projects
As a photographer, I’ve always found solace and inspiration in personal projects that fuel my creativity. For me, it’s about capturing the essence of life’s ordinary moments and transforming them into extraordinary stories. This is why I continue, every January, to immerse myself in this soul-nourishing project, photographing my (now, teenage) children daily.
Why January? It’s the perfect time for a fresh start, a blank canvas to fill with new memories. This month-long endeavour serves as a reminder of why I fell in love with photography and compels me to see the world through fresh eyes.
Capturing the Magic of Childhood
Our lives are often a whirlwind of routines, responsibilities, and distractions. In this fast-paced world, it’s easy to overlook the small miracles that unfold before our eyes every day.
The daily photo project became my conduit for reflection, my window into the beauty of the ordinary.
I made a deliberate decision to capture each photo in black and white and always in landscape orientation. These choices were intentional, driven by my desire to create a cohesive and timeless collection that emphasised the raw emotions and intimate connections within each frame. Black and white photography strips away distractions, allowing the essence of the moment to shine through, while the landscape orientation provides a sense of expansiveness, drawing the viewer into the intimate world of childhood. This consistent approach has become a hallmark of the project, enhancing the visual storytelling over the years.
Mindful Photography and Meaningful Memories
As a parent, I understand the struggle to balance life’s demands while treasuring the everyday moments with our tiny humans. With this project, it is an opportunity to pause, breathe, and witness the magic in their laughter, their playful interactions, and the subtle changes in their features over the years.
Each photograph is an exploration, a way to delve deeper into their world and capture them as they are in that time. It’s not about picture-perfect poses but about candidly preserving their personalities and the unique connections we share.
In a world that prioritises speed and convenience, I’ll admit that most of my everyday memories are stored on my phone. It’s the constant companion that allows me to capture the little details and spontaneous moments. However, I don’t want every memory of my children to be a phone-quality image that I’ll look back on with regret.
This project serves as a beautiful reminder to slow down and think deliberately about each photo I take. Whether the photograph occurs serendipitously or is taken with a specific purpose in mind, I ask myself, “What am I trying to convey about this moment? What emotion or story do I want to capture?”
A Visual Diary of Childhood Stories
The photographs I take during this project become a visual diary of their lives. They are not just pretty pictures; they are fragments of their childhood stories, frozen in time for eternity. This month-long journey of creativity has taught me to appreciate the uniqueness in the ordinary. I find beauty in the mundane, joy in the chaos, and poetry in simplicity.
I’ve also witnessed the beautiful bond between my children grow and change. As they dance through their individual milestones and achievements, I’m there to witness the magic of their relationship unfold. At times, it’s the smallest details that leave the most profound impact – the wisps of hair catching the sunlight, the dimples on their cheeks when they smile, the tiny fingers gripping a cherished toy. But what truly sets this project apart is the way it serves as a time capsule of their growth and personalities. The images capture the unguarded moments of innocence, mischief, and wonder.
Personal Project Tips
Here are a few themes I use to guide this project over the years:
- RELATIONSHIPS: Capturing the precious moments of sibling love and camaraderie is essential as children grow and their dynamics change over time. The project allows me to document their genuine interactions, laughter, and play, creating a timeless record of their bond even as they transition into their teenage years.
- DETAILS: Embracing the art of getting up close and personal with my children reveals the beauty of the fleeting details that often go unnoticed. These tiny features, expressions, and mannerisms change rapidly, and through the project, I can freeze those fleeting moments and appreciate the unique aspects that make them who they are.
- LIGHT: Utilising light to my advantage enables me to transform ordinary moments into extraordinary photographs. Capturing the soft, warm glow of the sun or the gentle shadows cast during the golden hours adds depth and emotion to the images, elevating them beyond the everyday, and adds depth and dimension to the images.
- MILESTONES: Reflecting on the current milestones and first experiences of my children is an integral part of the project. I aim to capture these significant moments that shape their growth and development. From their first steps to their evolving interests, each milestone becomes a precious memory to cherish as they journey through childhood.
While the project celebrates their childhood, it’s also a reminder to cherish the present and the joy of being in the moment. As they grow, my children will continue to change, and these photos will serve as a visual testament to their journey. Through this project, I’ve developed a profound appreciation for authenticity. It’s not about perfectly posed portraits but about capturing their unique spirit and genuine expressions.
Sustaining Dedication to Personal Projects
There are days when life gets hectic, and I question if I can keep up with this daily commitment. Yet, the knowledge that this visual legacy will be theirs to cherish for a lifetime keeps my passion alive.
The truth is, personal projects aren’t always easy. Life has its way of throwing curveballs, and it’s not uncommon for many to start these projects but never finish them. However, the moments I capture every January are worth every effort.
This journey has become a tapestry of emotions, a mosaic of memories, and a celebration of life. It is a reminder that there is no “right” or “perfect” way to parent. Instead, it’s about embracing the journey and taking one step at a time, cherishing every beautiful moment along the way. Through my lens, I get to witness my children’s laughter, tears, joys, and growth. It’s a privilege to document their lives, their quirks, and their dreams. As a parent, I hope they’ll look back at these images one day and see not just their childhood but also the love and devotion behind each photograph.
The Fusion of Imagery and Words
For this January project, capturing an image of my children is not just about the visual image; it’s also about embracing the power of words.
With every photo, I take a moment to write some accompanying text. Some days, a few words are enough to capture the essence of the moment, while other days, the emotions flow like a heartfelt novel. This fusion of imagery and words becomes a powerful outlet for creativity, allowing me to express how I feel about the photo, the day, the context, or the overwhelming emotion it evokes.
While it’s not imperative for others to adopt this approach, I find that this interplay between photos and words enriches the project, creating memories that extend beyond the visual. The combination of photography and storytelling becomes a poignant reminder of the love, laughter, and challenges woven into our daily lives.
A personal Note…
In conclusion, my January project serves as a testament to the beauty of ordinary moments. I encourage you to embark on your own journey of creative expression, documenting the stories that resonate with you. Let your photography become a celebration of life’s magic, a visual legacy of your love, laughter, and cherished moments.
And on that note, some words…. written from this parent, to her children, just one day, in January.
“I meet lots of mothers every week.
It’s one of many beautiful perks of my work.
I often talk with them about how they feel about parenting, often for the first time.
The answer is almost always the same.
‘I don’t know,’ they say with doubt in their eyes. ‘I think it’s going ok? Everyone else seems to have it more together than I do.’
And I nod.
Because I understand.
I understand because inside, I still have this underlying fear I’m not doing it right.
I look at the two of you, and wonder what my next move is.
And then I ask myself – Do you two know that I don’t know what I’m doing? Do you yet realise I’m just making it up along the way? At what point will you notice this? And will you then resent me for it?
This parenting thing hard.
And just when you think you have a hang of it, you don’t.
Not even close.
And the truth is, I’m not sure anyone ever does.
As a parent, you just have to put one foot in front of the other,
Each and every day.
Because it’s the only thing you know how to do,
And the only thing you’re certain of.
There is no ‘right’.
No instruction manual.
No majestic path to enlightenment.
One foot and then the next.
And on the hardest days, I forget.
I watch other parents taking steps on that well-worn path beside me.
They look so confident.
So enchanted with the process.
Some even begin to run.
Who are these people?
The ones of myths and legends.
Some days I watch their dust fly as they skip along their path,
Longing to know what they know and how they run it with such ease.
One foot and then the next.
Then I feel someone grab my hand.
And then the other.
I look down and see these faces.
Faces that I have looked at every day,
Can map every feature with just my breath.
Oh, my heart.
There may be no right way to do this.
But you are as close to right as I will get.
And it’s then that I realise…
Somehow along the way
I began to run too.”
With love and gratitude,