There’s something extra nostalgic about summer, of long, hot days of bandaids and pool trips that end in relaxed evenings of puzzles and books. These are the days where memories are made. I got to spend the day with one of my favorite families this summer. I’ve photographed them many times before, but I have never photographed them for a whole day. For me, spending the whole day with a family is the perfect recipe of time and trust that is required to show you that I see you and to hold space for this time in your family’s life in artistic, honest photographs. Here’s what Tanya had to say about the experience:
“Atlanta's recent weather seems to have given us a sneak peek into the fall season and I cannot wait. This past summer was an especially hot one. Shorter days, cooler nights and the anticipation and promise of all the holidays are just around the corner and make me giddy with excitement. All that to say this past summer was also an especially memorable one. We don't typically send the kids to camp when school lets out for no other reason than that we either miss the deadline to sign them up or we don't even put it on our radar because we didn't grow up going to summer camp.
Some of my favorite memories of my own childhood summers are the ones where we didn't do anything planned. I grew up in Florida and had the privilege of having our own pool at home, as most Floridians do. The days were lazy and would be spent swimming, reading, running errands with my mom and watching far too much television. My siblings and I would complain about being bored while also eating an unlimited amount of Fruit Loops for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In short, summers were the time when most of the regimented schedules of the school year were tossed aside. And we loved it.
For the last four years, Kaleen has been a fly on the wall in our home starting with the first week of Akira's life. She's met extended families from both sides, been a part of birthdays and comes over to document holiday visits. I consider her to be one of my closest friends here in Atlanta and am so grateful for her eyes that capture all of the in-between spaces that we often overlook. I knew she did "Day in the Life" sessions and while I always admired them from afar, I admittedly was nervous about the idea of someone, even a close friend, being privy to all the ins and outs of our daily life. An entire day, from sun-up to sun-down was intimidating. Would my kids act out and then have a meltdown because they were tired of "performing" for the camera? Would they be too intensely aware they were being watched? Could I be vulnerable enough to show how tired I am? How frustrated I could be? But the most important question I had was: is our real life as beautiful as I want to believe it is?
Enter: Kaleen and her magical camera. Groceries needed to be done, laundry needed to be folded, kids needed to be napped, meals needed to be made. But I also wanted to spend the day at the pool to find respite from the heat and possibly get some ice cream. So that is exactly what we did. With Kaleen in tow, we drove around town, ate sushi to-go and took Lego Spiderman to the pool. Our dog never warmed up to the camera and we couldn't really have a proper sit-down family dinner because that's life and sometimes, you're feeding children and standing around the kitchen island picking at their leftovers. Even though she spent the whole day with us, I couldn't be sure what perspective she was having into our nuclear life. But I never once felt like I was under a microscope. It's strange, isn't it? To be documented but not feel like I'm being watched. Instead, I felt like I had spent the day with a friend (because that's what I did!) who happened to take photos at seemingly random moments. She always engaged with the kids and throughout the day, we had our own conversations on life and our respective families and experiences. And isn't that the whole point?
As humans, we are constantly searching for connections with each other. We all want to be able to relate to one another, to empathize and be understood. Most importantly, I think we all want to be seen. We want to be acknowledged and validated in the work we do, whether that's by getting a promotion at work or even having someone simply tell you you're doing a good job when you feel like you're too overwhelmed or tired or invisible. Kaleen saw what I often times forget to see: we are all doing our best. Even when our best seems so ordinary, to the ones we love, our best is nothing short of extraordinary.”
Click on the slideshow above or check out the photos below.