It's been a while since I've blogged. As you may know, I am no longer actively growing Photosanity as a business. Out of Photosanity and my work with so many moms in particular, I moved into women's leadership coaching and have now fully embraced diversity, equity and inclusion in a professional capacity (see http://aletheafitzpatrick.com for more). This doesn't mean I'm not still passionate about photographing my kids and everything that Photosanity stood and still stands for.
Which is why I wanted to tell you about a recent discovery that has instantly changed how I am managing and editing my iPhone photos.
Welcome to the Resilience Through Joy Show - Episode 003: Joy Through Passion Projects, a conversation with Beryl Ayn Young, founder of Recapture Self, a community for deeply feeling, giving moms who are ready to reclaim their identity beyond story reader, snack maker and boo-boo kisser.
Motherhood is a role that we love, but the day-to-day grind of being a parent can be exhausting and all consuming. However, it’s possible to be an amazing mom (even on the hard days), fiercely devoted to our families, while also making time for ourselves too.
We’ve been wrapping up 7 days to finding joy though photographing your kids (even if you’re having the worst day) and on Monday I went live on FB to do an epic recap of each day’s challenge and some of my findings.
If you didn’t get a chance to join in on the challenge, this is a great 45-minute 7-days-in-a-nutshell recap, and if you prefer listening to watching or reading, you certainly can go audio only for most of the broadcast (although I do go on camera with my Timeshel prints and Rag and Bone Bindery albums and show MySocialBook and Chatbooks albums too).
Welcome to the Resilience Through Joy Show - Episode 002: Joy Through Slowing Down, a conversation with Allegra Stein, a Thought and Action coach who helps driven women move towards their big, scary ideas.
For ambitious and high-achieving women, slowing down might not seem feasible, let alone something worth considering as a means for achieving more. I’ll be chatting with Allegra about what can happen when we slow down, and where to start when we are all struggling to balance so many things. Why is slowing down important when there is so much more we want to do for ourselves, our families and our communities?
Allegra is also a mom of two, and we’ll also talk about using photography to slow down.
This live interview series is a little bit of an experiment, but approximately weekly I'll be chatting with different interesting people like Allegra about a variety of methods of finding resilience through joy no matter what's going on in your life or in the world. This is all about increasing your personal and professional impact without sacrificing yourself in the process.
Welcome to the Resilience Through Joy Show - Episode 001: Joy Through Decluttering, a conversation with Amanda Wiss, founder of Urban Clarity, a professional organizing company that helps busy New Yorkers get out from under the clutter, streamline their spaces, and maximize their lives.
For many parents, clutter is a big thing that ends up stealing joy as all the toys, gear and clothes quickly get out of control. Amanda shared with us some practical tips as well as mindset shifts that can help create less anxiety and more joy in your home.
Amanda is also a mom of two so towards the end of the show, we talked about how she finds joy through photography, and I answered some of her questions about organizing and decluttering your photos.
I used to be a lot more cynical and angry. I’ve mellowed out considerably over the years, but still, as a type A ambitious professional, I’ve never really considered myself a particularly warm or joyful person.
In fact, when a colleague a few years ago commented on how warm I am, I was rather surprised.
Society ingrains all kinds of false dichotomies into us, and one of them is success vs. joy.
When I started Photosanity in 2011, I was a new(ish) mom and family photographer, and it was in response to a lot of questions I was starting to get from parents about taking better photos of their own kids.
So I developed a workshop that would teach parents just that, but not only how to take better photos, but how to handle the organizing, editing and sharing piece as well that can be so overwhelming.
However, from the very start, I always taught photography from the perspective of a mom who derived a great deal of joy and satisfaction from photographing my own kids, not just because of the resulting photos, but because of how my camera helped me to process the whole experience of becoming a mom.
This will come as no surprise to anyone, but being a mom is hard. And although I know this is an exaggeration, I feel like I would never have made it as a mom, had it not been for the amazing group of moms I met when Liam was around 6 or 7 weeks old.
We were all first-time moms with babies born within weeks of each other, and we met weekly at a local cafe, huddled over our nursing or feeding or sleeping or crying babies. We exchanged stories, information and commiseration from the front lines of those early and mysterious days of trying to figure out diapers, feeding and sleep schedules, postpartum recovery, and the crazy transformation we had experienced where we were now taking care of tiny, helpless, living, breathing, human beings outside of our bodies.
A couple of weeks ago, I talked about joy as not just a nice-to-have, but essential if you are to survive and thrive. Last week I took a look at what gets between us and joy.
Today, I want to talk about specific, concrete, simple actions you can take to find the joy that is already in your life without having to deny the things that are causing you to struggle, and without having to create joy out of thin air.
We talked last week about how it’s totally fine if you just want to use your iPhone to take photos. However, your DSLR still offers some significant advantages when it comes to really being in the moment and capturing it in a way that best reflects how you experienced it.
If you missed it, don’t forget to grab our “get out of auto” cheatsheet to get started. You’ll need this in order to use “shallow depth of field,” where the subject is in focus, and the background is blurry. THIS is what will make it worth carrying your DSLR around with you.
Along with the best camera bag for moms that I talked about last week, there’s one other piece to the puzzle that makes camera-toting life so much easier as a mom, and that is the camera strap.
I talk with a lot of women with kids, and while everyone has their own unique situation and approach, there are some questions and themes that come up over and over again, some of them bigger and more philosophical, while others are more practical such as:
How on earth do you lug your big camera around with you?!!!
It’s a challenge, I know, and what’s happened is that as smartphone cameras have become better and better, and as we rely on our phones more and more, the upside of that fancy DSLR you likely bought when you first became a parent becomes less and less.
What a week it has been. I know that it feels really overwhelming right now. On top of all of our usual responsibilities, being an informed and active citizen is starting to feel like a full-time job in and of itself. Fear, horror, outrage, and anxiety are everywhere, and it can be a struggle to get basic tasks completed.
Take a deep breath. This is a marathon, not a sprint. It is really important right now to put self-care practices into full force so that we have the energy and stamina to keep moving forward and taking action, whether politically, personally or both.
A few days ago, I asked you what you most wanted as a parent, and what your biggest frustration with photographing your kids is (if you didn’t fill out my quick poll, you can still do so here.
I then explained how the two are linked - how I have found that your camera can be a surprisingly powerful catalyst for creating more of what you want in your life as a parent.
And yesterday I told you that I know that you've got this - and showed how Photosanity parent Andrea Rizvi has been using photography to be more present, connect with her kids, and focus on the day-to-day joy in her life as she captures the moment.
But I know that you still want to know how.
Last week I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with fellow photographer, mother and entrepreneur Beryl Ann Young as she interviewed me for her podcast, Recapture Self. We spoke about photography, motherhood, identity and creativity - some of my favorite topics!
Listen to the episode (also on iTunes or Stitcher) to find out how it is I came to become a photography coach for parents, the one thing you should do to use your camera to connect with your kids, my favorite parenting book, and how I use photography to help diffuse meltdowns.
I hope that through the course of this past week of tips, you have started photographing your kids daily and have found that you have far more moments worth capturing than you realized.
If you've been following along with the 7 day challenge to take better photos of your kids, whereas before you might have felt that you kept missing the moment, now you almost have an overabundance of moments worth capturing!
This is a good thing, but it can be overwhelming. How do you decide what is most worth capturing? How do you decide what is most worth sharing?
We’ve been talking this past week about not asking your kids to smile and say cheese, and instead capturing natural emotions and interactions as they are engrossed in the things that they love.
We’ve looked at capturing the full range of emotions, not just the happy ones, as a means of validation as well as a much more rewarding approach to photographing your kids.
If you’ve been following along with these tips, you already know by now how much confidence and joy you can experience daily when you broaden your concept of the moments that are photo worthy.
However, I know that you still want photos of your child smiling and looking at the camera - I do too!
You see a precious moment that you want to capture... yet when you go back to look at your photos you are disappointed.
Why is that?!!!
One frustration that I hear over and over from parents is that they struggle to capture in photos the feeling they were experiencing in the moment.
There are many many reasons for this, and my first suggestion is always to focus on how it feels, not how it looks as you will find that your photos start to become like shorthand notes to yourself about what you are feeling in the moment.
But I know that you want more than that.
If I could only suggest one thing that you should do immediately to start not just taking better photos of your kids but having a better experience out of photographing your kids, it would be this.
Today I want to share with you three very specific steps that you can take to start using photography to help you achieve many of the things you want as a parent.
Let’s take the core parental desire from the poll as an example.
You want to know that your kids are self-confident and happy