Thoughts on Making Pictures During Chaos at Home

Thrilled to share our first ever reader story! Kari Phelan so sweetly went out of her way to send in photos + a little note about how she’s been practicing documentary photography daily since reading some of our products. Seeing her photos made me feel so much pride and joy in F&F and what we’re doing here. Why? Because in her photos, I see Kari’s world.

I see how she used her camera as a tool to document what was unfolding in front of her. Knowing that she now has these tangible images of her memories is all I can hope for, not just for clients, but for us as photographers also.

It doesn’t matter how busy your day is, life waits for no one.

If you wait to pull out your camera when life is perfect, you’ll miss out on documenting your biggest treasures. I’m not saying have your camera out 24/7. It’s important to be present and live too. I’m saying, don’t neglect to pull it out because of x, y, & z. Kari pulled out her camera and made photos during chaos. She created art out of the chaos.

I especially love the photos that have the grain in them. I don’t know what it is about grain, but it has such a cozy feeling to me – probably because my favorite shoe box photos are old, grainy, imperfect, and powerful.


Here’s what Kari had to say about her photos:

We’re preparing to move very soon, so our house is torn apart. With two kids under two, things are about as chaotic as they can get. So over the course of a week, I took a few minutes each day to photograph around the house, and look past the mess.

Or even use it to my advantage.

As I took the photos, I noticed how calm and content my children are in the mess. They’re quite opposites in personality – she is an independent, problem-solving observer while he is a boisterous, lively performer. For me, these photographs freeze this time of hustle in our lives and help me remember the little things, like how she throws her head back when she laughs and the wispy long hairs stretching out behind his ears, calling for his first haircut, and how they remained so seemingly calm in the middle of our madness.

My tips to anyone getting started?

My first focus is always the light – it’s strength, distance, and direction. Move around, see how you can use the light to create completely different scenes and evoke different emotional responses. Find the light you love, and develop the style that speaks to you. (I’ve learned that I’m a lover of dark shadows and contrast.)

Every day, just shoot. Even if it’s just to get that one image. Even when you’re tired. When you feel like there’s just too much to do, or your house isn’t perfect, or the laundry list of other reasons we tell ourselves we can’t get to it.

Because you can, you’ll be so happy you did.

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Story + photography contributed by Kari Phelan. Follow her here:

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Be published on Fearless and Framed® here: CONTRIBUTE

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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