"Life must be lived as play." - Plato
When Allison contacted me about documenting her family's celebration of her father's 75th birthday, I was excited. Family celebrations are full of love and fun. When she mentioned her Dad was a comic fan and the party would be super hero-themed with costumes, I was ecstatic. How cool would this be? And it was!
It was a beautiful day for documenting an outdoor party in Northern Virginia - sunshine, warm weather - everything one could hope for on an early spring day. And we got to take full advantage of it. Allison's father, Neil, has lovingly cultivated his beautiful backyard to be the perfect place for gatherings. And he took particular care to set up a special area for the kids to play too.
With every guest that arrived, you could feel the love and respect for this family patriarch. He was definitely the man of the hour, and in high demand, but he took time to play with each of his grandkids in between telling stories and joking with his guests.
Getting together with extended family and friends is always a special time, whether we live close by and get together often or far away and get together only for special occasions. How often do we come away from these gatherings with maybe a few group selfies or quick snapshots on our phone that might get posted to Facebook, but most often get lost in the digital depths of our phone (or worse lost for good when the unexpected happens to our phone)?
Selfies are great for showing our smiling faces, arms around loved ones. But what about the bigger story of the day? Where we were. What brought us together. What we did together that was so uniquely us - our family. It's difficult to capture those in-between moments when you're busy living them.
Capturing these details help us remember exactly what it felt like to be there. To experience life in that moment. These images help us remember how heartwarming it was to watch our father captivate a crowd with his storytelling and easy laugh. Or how proud we were to watch when our little one worked up the nerve to go down the slide on her own and how happy her smile was when we caught her at the bottom. Sure, the birthday itself is a big deal, but the reason everyone is really there is to celebrate the love they feel and honor they have for someone special.
Those feelings are what make life sweet and preserving them with images is what makes family documentary sessions worthwhile. Pictures that tell the story of life lived - busy, perhaps, but always full of love.