Shooting through the Hard Emotions

Life with kids is full of emotions.  Love, joy, anticipation, surprise, wonder, closeness, pride, discovery, courage, and trust.  But there’s also plenty of sadness, anger, disappointment, frustration, fear, confusion, and even envy.  There’s both the “good” and the “bad.”  Some families might think that when hard emotions pop up, it’s a good time to set down the camera.  If you’re the parent, that might be true.  But if you’re a documentary photographer, difficult emotions are just as worthy of capturing as all the other emotions.  Documentary photography is about story telling, and the whole story includes all the good and bad in family life.  Putting down the camera when the smiles fade would only tell part of the story.  I find beauty and meaning within images that show the hard moments of life, like the laboring before birth or the tears before learning to ride a bike.  And I find meaning in images that show parents comforting, guiding, and teaching through life’s hard moments.

Here’s a real life example.  Last week I had lunch with my four-year-old and he was a mess.  He was overly tired and hangry.  Everything I did was wrong.  I put carrots on his plate! I cut his sandwich in half!  When I got tired of his yelling, I got out my phone and took a video to document the moment.  Someday I will remember the wonderful parts of his growing independence, and I’ll also remember his overtired moments and the yelling that ensured.

Here are some images of the harder emotions in life.  Do you see beauty and meaning in these images?

sisters touching hands through window

toddler crying with cut hair

Parents comforting crying birthday boy

baby crying while grandfather pats his head

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