My home life is chaos.
We are not a picture postcard family. I barely brush my hair at weekends. Greta (my whirlwind of a daughter) hardly gets dressed. At weekends she is PANTS GIRL. We have dogs. The garden is a tip. There’s always a barrel load of washing to be put away – (you know, I’m still waiting for the clean washing putter away fairy to arrive).
Sometimes the control freak in me takes over and I spend the day/weekend mass clearing and tidying (this really doesn’t happen often enough), as I ultimately know that a tidy house doesn’t last long and we are back to square one.
And instead of having a tidy house – the kids are making camps and dens in the most unpractical of places, the dogs sleep in the tiniest cracks of warm sunlight hitting the floors. At weekends we hang out together, make cakes, mend stuff, make more mess. But we are relaxing, giggling, we are playing games. We are having tea together. We are watching the same episode of Topsy and Tim again and again.
And, the point is. I love it like this. This is the life we chose. After having kids I learnt very quickly that I didn’t want to spend my life tidying up and I had to make a choice between a tidy house or my mental health. The chaos won! Of course chaos won – because who really cares? Real life won. The beautiful chaos of the everyday.
When my dad died in 2013 it changed me in a way I didn’t see coming. I spent ages looking through old photographs of our childhood. My dad as a younger man. My competitive dad. The husband. The work man. All the parts of his life I didn’t really know as a child. It helped me grieve for him. And these photos are not posed or pretty. We never went to a studio to have photos as a family in our best party clothes. These photos are chaos (mostly out of focus, with fingers across the lens) but they are our family – at Christmas, on holiday, playing cricket on Sunday with our cousins. They helped me remember him. They defined him and by default, me.
These photos are the reason why I choose documentary photography over everything else. Yes posed photos have their place (and I always do a few posed family photos at the beginning of a session) but I know in my heart how important these photos were to me and I truly believe that’s how all families should remember their life.
I want photos that capture how awesome your family is. How chaotic life is when you have kids. But more than anything I want to capture all the things your kids will remember about your life when they are grown up – when they look back. They remember you, your beautiful life, how loved they were.
Please don’t worry about tidying up, or making things look pretty. Just make sure you are in the picture for them to remember you – just the way you are. I swear to god they will thank you for it.