Documenting the Dream of a 6 Year Old

Gloria documented the imagination + dreams of her 6-year-old son. Sure, it’s not the photojournalistic-only-shoot-what-is-happening definition we so often hear of a typical documentary work. She planned this coverage. She planned its details through the location + accessories.

Yet, through a mix of letting him lead the day + letting his real-life dream come to life on this afternoon, she has genuinely documented something special and important for her son and for herself.

F&F was born upon the idea of infusing real-life stories into your clients’ photo sessions in a non-intrusive way. Right off the bat, I met photographers in love with our philosophy, but needed a little help to take this approach into business. Soon enough, family documentary photography and beyond has grown into a trend.

More photographers are taking on this approach and also starting to teach this approach in their own voice, offering products & classes to other photographers. It’s been heartwarming to watch this genre grow and to see all the different voices inside this big, documentary umbrella.

Equally, it’s been a little sad to see such a beautiful thing often lead to further discussions of shooting rules (insert my eye-roll here) and arguments of what’s “right” and what’s “wrong.” I go into that convo in this post about rules.

What I’ve noticed is this shift from photographers, at first, afraid NOT to direct clients and going after their passion to document clients to the polar opposite:

now some photographers are afraid to interact with their clients at all.

(because if they do, they might be called out for doing something “wrong.” I’ve seen people NOT share amazing work for that reason alone)

All this to say, let’s give each other some damn grace. Let’s lift each other up and look at the heart in the work, not judge a picture (or photographer) by a label, ya know?

That’s why I’m sharing THIS story.

At first glance, I saw Gloria’s photos below as a session orchestrated by a photographer. When do you see a young boy, dressed as a business man, reading the newspaper and in a train station?

Gloria knows our community (and was my favorite pick in our 2015 community challenge 17 Photos to Inspire You in Documenting Adult Men), so I knew there had to be more to the story.

And there is!

When you read her words behind the photos, you see that this is about documenting the dream of her 6 year old.

How can you document a dream… something that has not happened yet? Working towards the dream is what is the NOW, but the fruition of the dream itself is in the future.

Yet, a dream is an important piece of our identity, part of our individual, unique story – worth documenting, right?

So, what I love so much about this, is that Gloria documented this story in her own way. I imagine her son growing up, leaving the nest, and off to fulfill his dreams.

Will he be a dapper, young business man?

A doctor?

An entrepreneur?

Only time will tell and this dream on record will be the coolest thing for Gloria + her son to look back upon once he settles into his grown-up life!

Here’s what Gloria had to say about her work:

Over a year ago, I planned to document my son’s 6th year. He loves trains and he loves to dress up “like a business man” almost every day.

Kids grow and change quickly, so it was important for me to make sure this part of his life was documented. I knew Union Station would be the perfect place to take him. Not only is it beautiful with incredible light, but this train station has as much personality and life as his old soul seems to have.

I had the worst time finding a briefcase, but thanks to his kindergarten teacher we got one! We were, thankfully, able to go.

When we got there it was HOT. There was no parking and of course, of all times, Union Station was under construction with ugly scaffolding covering a lot of my favorite parts of the station.

I began to think this was not meant to happen.

I’m glad I forged ahead. All I did was tell my son we were going to the train station to hang out and have lunch.

What I documented was a six year old boy’s imagination unfolding. He pretended to read his newspaper while waiting for his train, looked for his next train on the board, telling me where he’d like to travel someday. He ran down the stairs to catch his train then walked tiredly through the station after coming back from a long day at work. He led the entire day, enjoying exploring the train station. I sat back with my camera and watched, enjoying seeing my love for motherhood and photography come together. I love this boy so much. Hopefully, when he’s 40 years old, showing his wife and kids these photos – they’ll all see what I saw in him that day.

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Story + photography contributed by Gloria Plunkett.

About Gloria Plunkett:

I’m a photographer, a wife, a mom to a 6 year old boy and most recently to a 9 month old Siberian Husky puppy. If you ask my mom, I was born with a camera in my hands. I’ve always thought photography was magical and knew from the start that it would always be a huge part of my life.

At 19, about a year after receiving my first SLR, I had an epiphanous moment while sitting in my college parking lot wondering why I was majoring in something I wasn’t fully passionate about. With that thought, my life changed and my journey began. I started out in wedding photography which slowly turned into newborn photographer which has now fully evolved into family photographer.

I tend to shoot what feels right in my heart. I think of my own son and what I would want photographed as a mother and it is always the true self of whoever is in front of my camera. My goal is always to turn that around and give the same to the families that come to me. If you would have told me 10 years ago that this would be me, I would have laughed. I never thought about photographing families! It was just a natural progression over time, but I’ve come to love it so much. It’s funny how life leads you to exciting and unexpected places after some time. Website // Facebook // Instagram // Pinterest

Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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  • I can’t say enough how much I love this! Gorgeous photographs. Brilliant idea! Beautiful location. I hope when my little one is 6 we can do something as creative!