Documentary photography was always within, I just didn’t realize it.
When I first got into photography about a year ago, I was always a tad bit envious of all the other photographers I saw online that were taking gorgeous photos of their children… You see, I don’t have children yet, and I always thought it would be so much easier to have little “guinea pigs” to try my new ideas and practice my photography skills with. So, I pretty much would keep my camera on the shelf until I had photo sessions. I rarely ever picked up my camera to document my own life or my own family. Who wants a ton of pictures of grown-ups, right? Well, looking back on my old way of thinking makes me really sad, because boy, how I was wrong.
Over the last year, my perspective on photography has drastically changed. I’ve discovered more about who I am as an artist and what I am passionate about… and that’s documentary photography. I realized that I’ve always been drawn to the small details of someone’s life. The little moments shared between loved ones, the connection between a parent and their child, the everyday routines that make up a family’s life… To me, these are the memories that we will all look back on years down the road and value more than anything. I realized that as a photographer, those are the moments I long to capture. I’m not necessarily interested in taking “pretty” pictures that will sit on the mantel for a year before being switched out. I’m interested in capturing a small piece of someone’s story, so years down the road they can look at those images and be reminded of how life was “back then”…
What their home looked like, the sweet details of their loved ones, the memories of what it felt like to cuddle with their children and read a book before bedtime. Life moves so fast we oftentimes don’t realize how meaningful the everyday, ordinary moments are. That is what I want to capture for my clients because whether they realize it or not, I think those are the memories that will be most cherished not only for them, but their children as well. So you may be wondering, what does that have to do with this particular session?
Well, as I ventured through this personal “discovery” of who I want to be as an artist, I realized that I wasn’t even doing for myself what I wanted to do for my clients.
I want to document everyday, meaningful memories for my clients, but how can I do that when I don’t even pick up my camera and document my own life? I realized that I could no longer use the excuse of not having my own children to take photos of on a daily basis… While my camera was sitting on the shelf just waiting for the day I had kids to take photos of, my own life and everyday moments were passing by. Special family memories were happening everyday and I realized that I was missing out on documenting and preserving those memories for myself and for my future children. I soon became aware of all the “normal” and “mundane” details of my everyday life that I actually value and will probably miss one day.
So, I started picking up my camera for ME.
I was inspired to document my husband after Marie Masse from Fearless and Framed presented the challenge of documenting an adult during an “ordinary” day of their life. I knew right away that I wanted to document my husband. He has such a positive outlook on life, has a deep love for his family, and treats me better than I could have ever imagined being treated. So much of who my husband is— his work ethic, his character, his focus, and determination— has been shaped by his experiences as a firefighter. It’s a huge part of who he is, so I knew I had to capture that. He spends his off days from the firehouse doing side work and helping others that may need an extra hand. He often comes home at the end of a long day wearing his work boots and work clothes, never complaining about the day’s hard labor as he unloads his truck. Most other times he can be found working around the house and on various projects with a positive, “do it right” attitude. He never takes shortcuts in his work and doesn’t stop until he’s 100% happy with the job that he’s done. He takes pride in his work, and that is one thing that I’ve always admired about him. What I admire even more is his ability to make others feel special and loved, especially me, no matter how busy or tired he may be.
These are all qualities that I want to forever remember about my husband. These are qualities that I want his children to see in him one day. These images are a piece of who he is and a piece of the legacy he will leave behind one day. One day, our children will look at these photos and see their father for who he was. They will recognize the familiar qualities they will one day see in him, and they will realize that building good character is a life-long experience that is never-ending. These snapshots of my husband show a piece of who he is today, and I will forever cherish these. But, I like to believe that they will mean far more to our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren one day. It’s a way to preserve and pass a piece of my husband’s legacy on to future generations so it can be remembered and cherished for many years to come.
I have a lot more documenting to do, but I’m so happy that I’ve realized the importance of capturing my loved ones for who they are right now, in this moment in time.
Maybe you have kids, or maybe you don’t. Maybe you aren’t married yet, or maybe you’ve been married for 50 years. No matter what stage of life you are in, your life is worth documenting.
Not only will you be happy that you did it, but your family and future generations will cherish the photos that you create. Just promise me one thing; that you won’t wait until the next “exciting” stage to start documenting your life. While you wait, life is flying by. What happens in your everyday matters most, so don’t wait!
Guest post writing and images from Kelly Lovan
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