People sometimes say that they wish they could be a fly on the wall in someone else's experience. Well, that is often how it feels to capture a family's story in photographs. It was such an honor when Rita asked me to come and photographer her family in their home. She is a gifted photographer herself and it was such a joy to come and be a fly on the wall in her home as she and her beautiful family spent some time doing some things they love.
Since joining the Childhood Unplugged collaborative, I have been more thoughtful about what it actually means to have an unplugged childhood. For us, it's music. Music has been a huge part of my life - I even majored in music in college. Music has provided beauty, escape, joy as well as ways to create. I knew I wanted music to be a foundational part of my children's childhood. We love musicals, singing in the church choirs and listening to all kinds of music. The kids have all learned instruments and although the process has definitely not been without practice battles - the journey has already proved rewarding. One of mine still wants to plug in an electric guitar and amp.... but that's probably ok. This month's post is found at Childhood Unplugged. You can also follow Childhood Unplugged on instagram (@childhoodunplugged).
"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood." Fred Rogers
As an early childhood educator - it is no secret that play is the heart of learning! When I work with teachers - one of the things we always look at in their daily schedules is how much time they have set aside for play! The longer, the better! As the minutes go by play becomes deeper, richer and more creative, developing so many higher level thinking skills, executive function and pure fun!
A few years ago, a friend of mine, Monica Calderin, founded a photography collaboration called, Childhood Unplugged - "a group of photographers who are making a conscious effort to encourage our children to get back to the art of play." Their popular instagram feed highlights images of children at play throughout the world. When Monica asked me to join, I was thrilled.
An autumn weekend in the heart of the northern woods of Minnesota was the perfect spot to tell an unplugged story as a part of the Childhood Unplugged team. No internet, no television (other than one fuzzy channel) helped draw us all through an open door to outdoor play, yard work, cousin fun, grandparent time, freshly fallen leaves and time at the farm.
I met this family when their oldest was just a little babe - it is so fun to reconnect and watch families grow and change throughout the years and there's nothing quite like summertime to document families together!
North Community Theater Auditions. I saw the event announcement pop up on my screen. I love musicals, I love the Northside. All ages. Why not give it a go? It seemed like an opportunity to do something I love and to connect with my family and with my community. As an artist, I understand the power of creating something collaboratively that can foster new relationships and strengthens communities. Dudley Voigt along with John Bueche and Kenna Cottman had a vision to bring theater back to North High School and back to the Northside community. The process was more than just a final production. From the building of the sets, the making of props and the gathering of costumes this community was engaged in building a production that spoke of the uniqueness of each individual and the importance and value of joining together. "We are different and united. We are us and we are you. This is our story." There's something about theater that brings people together. Reviewing dance steps in the hallways, painting backdrops, sharing ideas, practicing song lyrics, playing theater games, and having conversations backstage - encouraging each other to be brave and confident - these are the things that helped create a "community production". These scenes from the eyes of a cast member may not tell the complete story of the final production - but help tell the narrative of a community uniting to create something amazing. My son's new "best friends" are the high school students he got to meet... he keeps wanting to call them to get together. And..... at my house we are all making predictions about what next year's show will be .... we know this is only the beginning of the lives that will be touched by the creation of North Community Theater.
I can't believe that I haven't posted anything since September. Now, more than just a few months later, I was able to spend some time with the little one who was just a newborn in my last post. The changes that occur in the first year are so amazing and to watch a little one become her own little person is such a gift. So grateful for these friends!
There's something so special your your friends become parents for the first time. This new little one has been so eagerly anticipated and is so welcomed with love! I can't wait to watch her grow into the person God has created her to be! I'm so blessed to be able to watch from just down the block! Love her and her parents so much!
Recently, I've found myself invited to document the new - the first few weeks, the first moments, the new little changes in a family when a new little one is lovingly welcomed in. I never really set out to become a newborn photographer and although I am an artist continually growing and evolving in my work .... I am discovering a love of helping tell a family's story of "new". More than the story of the just the new baby - but the story of the new family together. Such a joy to capture the welcoming in of this little one! His mercies are new every morning!
Such wealth of treasure found in this family of three!
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are! We have welcomed a new little child of God to the neighborhood! She's already being lavished upon with love from her family who has been anxiously awaiting her arrival!
One of the best things about being part of a small church community is being able to surround our children with family-like love. When a new little one is born they are welcomed into the fold with rejoicing. So it is with this new little one - such a precious gift from above. And her brother is my favorite. He greets me by name weekly with a snippet of a bible story he heard in Sunday School. He also knows more about animals than most of you. He sure loves his new little sister, too. Welcome to the fold little one! You are loved!
I've been blessed to document a few newborns recently and there is something so beautiful about this special time for a family - the freshness, the joy, the possibility.... as you begin to get to know this new little one...... God's handiwork is so evident.... It was such a pleasure to spend some time in this home with this sweet family and their new little one.
About a month ago, Jamar Clark, was shot by police just a few blocks from my home. The unjust shooting sparked a movement of people fighting for justice in my neighborhood and in Minneapolis. For 18 days, protesters camped out at the 4th Precinct. They were united in their front - through cold, rain, snow, and even white supremacist shooting attacks - they rallied, prayed, sang, ate, encouraged, cheered and stood firm in their requests. They were cleared from the area in the middle of the night by police as large fenced barricades were erected to keep them away. That however, did not stop the powerful force of a community of people coming together to stand for justice and rights for people who have been oppressed in many ways. The group is only growing stronger - led by a strong #blacklivesmatterminneapolis group and many young black clergy and other young leaders stepping forward. This is the time. As a white person, it is my privilege and choice to engage actively and vocally in the fight. My friends of color - live the fight daily and hourly. This weekend we joined together to shout for justice in the case of Jamar Clark and to pull together to fight for those who have suffered-and continue to suffer - under the hand of inequality and injustice.
A few years ago, as I was beginning my journey as a photographer, I stumbled across the work of Olive Avenue Photography and fell immediately in love with the beauty of the images that were so full of life, light, love and heart. She offered a mentoring session and I ended up spending some time learning from her. Jess has an amazing gift and spirit and when she wrote and asked me to take her family photographs, it was an incredible honor. Not only is she an amazing photographer, but she is an amazing wife and mother. Her love for her family is fierce and was truly evident in the time I spent with them. I know I will continue to learn and be blessed by her work and her friendship.