I’ve only done one official family portrait which involved my kids. It was back in 2010 and we wanted to do something nice for my mom’s birthday. We all headed over to Target and snapped pics which now proudly sit on Abuela’s shelf in her office.
Except we weren’t all there.
My now ex-husband isn’t in any of the pictures. Not because I cut him out but because he didn’t show up that day. I was smiling in the pictures but on the inside I was in turmoil. It was at a time where my marriage was coming to an end. He didn’t show because he didn’t want to be there or because it would hurt me and the truth is, I still don’t know but I made the decision to take the pictures anyway because that’s what I promised to do for the rest of my family. I was deeply saddened that this family portrait was incomplete and there was nothing I could do about it.
I never wanted to take any family portraits again because I didn’t want to look back and be potentially taken back to a sad moment or pretend my world was perfect in any way. My ‘keeping it real’ attitude was more of ‘keeping me safe’ one. In time, I have learned that those memories matter, too. It helps us to remember why we are where we are and how we came to be there. The picture perfect family as we know it doesn’t exist. The pictures are beautiful because it’s a moment in our lives and all of the things that are a part of it. Captured in less than a second.
I look at the picture now and feel absolutely blessed. I was surrounded by people who loved me when I needed it the most. I see I was being given the love I needed despite it not being the one I wanted and they knew that but they gave it to me anyway. They were the first people to remind me that love is not earned. It is given and received freely and without expectation.
Fast forward to right now. Living in Texas with my kids, fiance, and Obi-Wan Catnobi. I had a friend post GORGEOUS pictures of portraits she had taken and asked if anyone was interested in having a mini Fall or Holiday Photo session, too. My heart jumped at the chance because all the pictures were so fun and beautiful and I could totally picture us in those pictures but my head sounded the alarm instead.
Why would you take a “family” portrait if you two aren’t even married yet? What if other people see it an think you’re trying to pretend like you have this perfect life? How are you going to explain this to the kids?
I got taken back to that day in Target. I almost passed on the opportunity until I took a harder look at that picture from 6 years before. I am not the same person any more. In 6 years I have grown, healed, and met a man who loves me for everything I am and all that I have. I have two incredible kids who are growing so ridiculously quick I can’t seem to capture enough pictures to remind me of it all (but I give it a good try!). This memory deserves to be preserved just as much as the others.
So I said no to fear and yes to love instead and we booked our appointment.
I didn’t plan our outfits very much either. I didn’t want to. I wanted everyone to wear something that made them smile. Jon wore a Star Wars shirt, I wore a Hello Kitty shirt, Elias wore a Pokemon shirt, and Ellie wore cat everything. The only thing that matched was the fact that we were wearing jeans. No color coordinating. That’s us though. That’s what I wanted to capture and that’s exactly what Anel from Tender Nest Portraits did. We didn’t call it a family portrait. We just said we were going to take pictures together because really, that’s all that it is. We let them decide what pictures they were comfortable with and they went ham. It’s funny what happens when you remove labels and expectations how much more free you are to just enjoy life. I can’t be more thankful for her talent, treasures, and understanding.
Here were are. Doing our own thing. Loving, laughing, crying, joking, eye rolling, exploring, learning, and everything else that falls in between these one second snapshots we call a family portrait.
The next time you look at a family portrait or any picture just realize that it’s not the perfect smiles, setting, or outfits that makes it a beautiful photo. It’s the incredible hard work and dedication that exists between the shots that made that moment possible. The people in it matter because of what they have done not what they look like or what we label them as. That’s going to look differently for everyone and that’s so incredible. Think of the many different paths we all lead and the stories that each picture can tell! Start creating the memories you want to cherish forever because they are yours and they don’t last forever. Not sure how? Start by letting love lead the way.
THANK YOU again to Anel from Tender Nest Portraits for capturing our little family. If you’re in Houston please check her out because you know I love to give local businesses lots of loving!
Click her for website: www.tendernestportraits.com
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