Pajamas and Pop Tarts with the Brickers

 
Photographs by Amy Nicole Photography

Photographs by Amy Nicole Photography

Elisa reached out to me to document her family, as I documented a mother & daughter session for her last summer. Her vision was simply a morning at home with her dear family. Imagine the best morning possible filled with pajamas, snuggles and homemade pop-tarts! My approach is always to document connection, the small in-between moments that add up to what makes a family. The love, the embraces, and the sweet expressions of children and family in that very moment. Unfussy and beautiful because it captures something that's real. — Amy Nicole, photographer

Cottage Hill: Why do you think a family should have their 'everyday' professionally documented?

Elisa: I have always loved our family portraits, but we spend so little time clean and perfect. Our day-to-day life is in pajamas or play clothes, with skinned knees and eating snacks or playing with paints. I wanted our regular moments captured, so we could remember what it was like at that age and stage.

This year I lost two dear friends to cancer and both left behind husbands and young children. As a mother, I want to cherish these images as moments in my children’s lives, but I also realize there will come a time when they may want to linger of these images of us together. In those moments, I asked myself, would they rather have a portrait or a moment? The answer was clear.
 
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Both as a photographer and mother, what value do these moments hold for you?

There’s a gap of 5 and half years between my two children, and my perspective on motherhood feels like it has grown and changed dramatically since the arrival of our second. With Lucien, I knew the time was passing quickly, and I savored his baby and toddler days. With Matilda’s arrival, I was blown away by how rapidly time was passing. Despite their age difference, their bond as brother and sister is very deep. These images were a way for me to capture their little years and all the messy, beautiful moments of love we share as a family.

 
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So often, when a family invests in portraits, the immediate idea is to dress up and make it formal. Those are definitely special, but for someone who hasn't had portraits like this—a simple morning at home—how can they create something like this for themselves? How do they communicate this with their photographer and how do you plan the morning without becoming too orchestrated?

Choosing an activity that we all enjoyed together was key as it gave the kids something to do and served as a prompt to turn their attention from the camera and back to us.

I planned the day before so that we could set ourselves up for success and prepped two batches of dough so we could roll out and cut the dough with the kids, and then immediately switch to frosting and sprinkling the already-baked second set. This set us up for all fun and no waiting and looking back was a great decision.  The morning of our session I made sure to feed the kids and keep things light!

A big part of communicating what we wanted for this session came from conveying the emotion we were going for rather than asking for specific shots. I wanted to focus on interaction rather than a typical “Christmas card picture” image. Amy did a fantastic job of listening to what we wanted for this session, and I chose her to photograph it because I knew she understands what we were aiming for. I think when I said, “pajamas and pop tarts” she was all in! She captured all the snuggles, kisses, giggles, and excitement that I had hoped for!

 
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Looking at these photographs, it truly reflects your vocalized efforts for more simplicity in your life, allowing the moments that matter to shine. How has your pursuit of less these last few years affected you and your family dynamics?

It is so easy to get caught up in a struggle to achieve, but it’s important to ask yourself what it is exactly what means you’re succeeding.

I have made a real effort to keep my own goals at the front of my mind, rather than being distracted by the goals and priorities of others.

That has translated into a more balanced home life, where we and our kids can enjoy each other. We take walks, play outside, paint, imagine, and read together regularly. We make it a priority to cook and eat together, and that means that we keep our commitments to a minimum.

Our pursuit of less means we have been able to plan a life with margin so that we can give to and enjoy others. That wouldn’t be possible if we allowed ourselves (and really I am most often the guilty party!) to be distracted by what other people are doing in their own lives.

 

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Photography by Amy Nicole Photography Film Lab, The FIND Lab