Teaching Kindness to Kids in a World Filled with Anger

These are the lazy days of summer.  We're supposed to be watching our kids play on the beach, staying up late for game night, and telling old family stories, passing on our traditions and making new ones.  If we are lucky, many of us are doing this during these last weeks before the start of the school year.  But even if we are, these simple joys are competing with the very real strain of witnessing a world that feels like it is absent of kindness.

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As parents, what do we do?  How do we teach our kids to practice kindness in a world filled with so much anger and hatred?  How do we nurture them and prepare them to spread good in our world as a counterbalance to all the bad?  How do we do that without destroying these treasured, peaceful family moments that we want to preserve?

Moments like this are actually the foundation for teaching about and building kindness.  The more time we spend with our children, the more spaces we create for them to ask and answer questions.  We allow them to hear their own voices and to know that we are listening to them, respectfully.  This gives our children the tools they need to develop the empathy and confidence that will help them create and engage in a better world.

Kindness Begins at Home

We teach kindness by demonstrating kindness.  For parents, this means exercising a little extra patience, especially when we are busy and really don’t have the time to slow down as much as we would like. 

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Teaching kindness starts with respectful listening.  Listen to your kids when they ask the hard questions.  Also, remember to listen to your kids when they are telling their stories, whether they are about building Minecraft worlds or imagining shooting into the galaxy with a stuffed monkey. 

When we listen to the little things, we make time and space for their voices, and we model for our children the values of respect and empathy.  We also give them the confidence they need to speak up in defense of those who are treated unfairly, and on behalf of those who need and deserve kindness.  Remember, kindness needs courage, and courage comes from confidence.

Celebrate Kindness

When you are spending time with your kids, enjoying the last days of summer, and during the busy season of school and sports and rehearsals, always take a moment to encourage, share and celebrate acts of kindness.

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We have spoken about getting your kids to talk about their day, and the value of using targeted questions (to avoid the generic “How was your day?/It was fine.” conversation).  As you go through those specific questions with your children at the end of the day, during the trip home from school, around the table, or at bedtime, ask for an example of when they showed kindness.  Ask them to tell you about a time during the day when they saw someone else demonstrate kindness. 

Then remember to ask the harder questions.  Ask them if there was a time someone didn’t show kindness.  Other questions should include: Did you encounter a situation where someone needed to be shown kindness and wasn’t?  Sometimes, is it hard to be kind to others?  Why?  What can we do about that?

Share Your Own Experiences

If we expect our children to feel comfortable speaking with us about things that are difficult – and we can all agree, sometimes it is difficult to show kindness to others – we need to be honest with them. 

Tell your children about your own struggles.  Maybe you have a co-worker who frustrates you, maybe you are so tired that you feel you can’t find the energy to ask someone if they need help, or how you can do something to make their day easier.  Tell your kids about this.  Ask them if they have ideas for how you can practice kindness more often.

Keep the conversations going and let your children know that we all need each other.  In spite of the anger and the hatred that we see in the world, we can do better, if we can come together.

Music and Your Memories

Have you ever noticed that when you think back on moments of your life, there always seems to be a soundtrack? While driving in your car, a song will play and you are instantly transported to your freshman year of college, your parents' living room, or your favorite childhood vacation spot...

The connection between music and memory is powerful, both in recalling memories and in cementing them.  Music is also deeply connected to emotion.  So often there are feelings that we can't express in words, but images and music help us to capture those feelings and hold onto them.

That's why we take our time in choosing the right music for our Portraits that Move videos, the soundtracks for the moments of your lives that our films help to cement and celebrate.  When we choose your music during our production process, we do so with the images and emotions of your film shoot fresh in our minds and our hearts.  We select unique music that helps to tell your story in a way that is all your own.

Yes, it costs more to get licensing for the music we use, but we know that it is absolutely worth it, for a few reasons.  First, as artists, we support artists.  Composers truly make something out of nothing - they create songs out of silence - and they most certainly need to be compensated when their work is used.  Second, your unique films deserve their own unique scores.  This is your family, your joy, and it is our job to help bring it to the screen in all its glory, complete with the soundtrack of this moment in your life.

If you have more questions about the music in our films, or the production process, pop them into the comments below, or reach out on Facebook.  We love to talk about what we do and to share it with you!

Road Trip Tips for Great Conversations with Kids

Now that we have kicked off the unofficial start of summer, we are planning ahead for road trips, vacations, and summer travel with kids.  Travel with kids can be the perfect time to reconnect with them and to start meaningful, fun, creative conversations.

Our Portraits that Move Team put together three easy and fun road trip games that get the kids - and you - talking, sharing, and laughing.  We know that every moment matters, and we are here to help you enjoy and document yours.  Here's to good times, good talks, and a great summer!

I Spy a Story

Try this new take on a familiar game.  Have each person in your car take a turn describing something they see.  

The next step is where it gets really fun.  In addition to describing it, have your child invent a story about it.  When it is the next person's turn, have that person do the same, using the thing they spy as a new character in the story that you are creating together.

vacation videos portraits that move

If I were...

This is another game that involves taking turns, using imagination and telling stories.  Go around the car, to the right, starting with the driver.  

Have the first person say to the second, "If you were a..." and pick a person, place or thing.  The person whose turn it is then has to answer a series of questions from that point of view.  Ask three or four questions to each player.

Example:
Mom: "If you were a monkey, what would your favorite food be."
Sam: "Banana ice cream!"
Mom: "If you were a monkey, what would your favorite color be, and why?"
Sam: "Brown, because it matches everything and it makes it hard to play hide and seek."
Mom: "If you were a monkey, what would your favorite song be?"
Sam: "Hmmm...."

Twenty Questions

This old favorite is a good way to build communication skills and to learn how your child understands the world around her.

Each person takes a turn thinking of something.  The other players ask questions (up to twenty) to determine what that person is thinking of.

All of these activities do more than pass the time while you are traveling with kids.  They help to connect you to each other by strengthening the bonds of communication.  You are sure to laugh, to go on some wacky tangents, and to discover new things about each other.  And isn't that what time away with family should be all about?

Let Kids Take the Lead: New Ways to Celebrate Mother's Day with Family and Friends

Make this Mother’s Day special by brainstorming with your kids about how to celebrate the day in new and more inclusive ways.  Talk to your kids about the women in your circle – your family, friends and neighbors, – and ask them how they want to connect with and celebrate the women who help to shape their lives.

As is so often the case when we take the extra time to have conversations like this with our children, the answers may surprise you.  The list could include grandmothers, neighbors, godparents or teachers. It is always a moment of discovery when you let your children lead conversations about what means the most to them. 

By engaging with your children in this way, you learn who is important to them and what they are observing about their family and community.  You also come to learn how your children are practicing empathy and gratitude as they grow and change.

5 Ways to Celebrate Mother's Day through Storytelling and Sharing

Schedule Facetime or Skype calls with special women in your child's life

Seeing and hearing each other is a wonderful way for your children – and for you – to connect with the important people in your lives.  We are fortunate to have technology at our fingertips that allows us to do that.

 

Ask your children who they would like to connect with and schedule a time for a call the same way you would schedule an in-person meeting.  Make it an event, make it special, and most of all, let your children take the lead.  Far away friends and family will be delighted to connect one-on-one with your kids.  Your kids will feel proud to share and to celebrate these special women on Mother’s Day.

Share their Artwork

For younger children, look through art work and classroom projects and select some favorites to send to the family members on your list.  Encourage your children to share the story of why they love this piece of art, what inspired them to create it, and why they chose it for the recipient.

Sharing artwork and allowing children to talk about it helps to build their confidence, and reminds them that they have the power to bring happiness to the people they love on holidays like Mother’s Day and throughout the year.

Create Unique, Special Messages

For older children, ask them to create a unique, special message for each person on the list.  This could include writing, drawing, making jewelry or other small gifts.  This encourages your children to share their stories and their observations to help connect them with their loved one.  It gives them the chance to use their creativity and talents to let someone know that they care about them, and why.

Share a Mother's Day Video Message

Our clients love sharing Portrait Videos and Video Cards with their loved ones for Mother’s Day and other holidays.  Especially for families that do not get to see each other as much as they would like (which is all of us, really!) our videos help to give the gift of more time with the ones you love.

Plan a New Kind of Mother's Day Get Together

This year, let your children take the lead in planning a Mother’s Day get together for your whole tribe.  Include all the women your child loves.  For us moms, this new approach does mean sharing our day, but what a gift it is to know that we are able to also share the joy and love of our children – and the joy and love we have for those who care about our children and contribute to their happiness.

Mother's Day Special 

Book a Portrait between now and the end of May 2017 and save 20% when you mention the code MOM2017

One More Moment for Moms

One of the most common things we  hear from moms, and a feeling that is shared by the moms on the Portraits that Move team, is that we never seem to have enough time. 

Moms are so busy making moments, or trying to document them, that we lose the opportunity to enjoy them.  We lose the chance to live these moments with our children and our families.

This Mother's Day, speaking for all of us on the team, and I venture to say, for all moms, the one thing we want, is more time.  

We want five extra minutes in the morning to sit down and talk about the coming day - or even one extra minute to give our precious children a goodbye hug. 

We want more time to listen to their stories, more time to share our own, at the end of the day.

All day, every day, it seems like we are grabbing for that extra minute, one more second to breathe in the life that we are creating - to look at our children and really see them for the wonderful, unique people they are, for the gifts they are to us and to the world.

So, this Mother's Day, I invite you to take an extra moment.  Take five minutes to look and to listen to your children, to celebrate them and to celebrate you.  Put down the camera, shut off the phone, and savor five minutes of quiet observation, of reflection and stillness.  Take it all in, and allow yourself a moment to be grateful for your life, for our lives, as mothers.

Leave the Documenting to Portraits that Move

The Portraits that Move filmmakers understand that moments matter, and all of the moms who help make those moments possible matter.

In honor of Mother's Day, our gift to you is 20% off a Signature Portrait.

Book a Portrait from now until the end of May 2017 and get 20% off when you mention the code MOM2017.

It's the perfect Mother's Day gift - extra time with your children, preserved on film.

How Seeing and Hearing Our Children Helps Energize Us

The busy-ness of professional life can leave us feeling low on energy and in need of inspiration to help us get the most out of our time in the office and at home.  Sometimes, taking a few moments to center ourselves and celebrate our family can revive, encourage, and remind us of all that we are helping to create every day.

What we notice, through this practice, is how we can create small moments throughout our days that are restorative and filled with gratitude.  At Portraits that Move, we are driven by the idea that every moment matters. It is in that spirit that we create all of our custom videos. 

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Sometimes, You Need a Moment

Parents are watching Portrait Videos while they are on business travel and even in stolen moments in the middle of hectic work days.  

Being able to listen to and see our children when we are away from them reminds us that we are doing so much right, even though the stress of managing work life and home life all too often tries to convince us otherwise.

Yes, parents love to receive Portrait Videos as holiday gifts, especially around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but the real gift is having something that to turn to every day - any day - that lets you savor a moment with your children, wherever you are.

The Power of Seeing and Hearing Your Children on Film 

Portraits that Move client Sabrina talks about the true gift of Portraits that Move, explaining that for her busy family, their Portrait Video “gave them the gift they always wanted – more time with the children.”

Other clients have shared with us that they are surprised by the final video product, and its ability to allow kids to “[share] things about themselves that we rarely, if ever, get to see.” 

As parents, we are always looking for tools to help maintain work-life balance. Our videos have become a surprisingly joyful way to do that.

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Embrace Your Moments

We salute you on getting through another busy day. And we are here for you to help document the moments that you can savor now, while things are frantic, and later, when you are looking back at this time wondering how it all went by so quickly.

How Our Passover Celebration Reminded Me about Documentation and Moments that Matter

Passover in my family is quite the celebration. My father writes an original Haggaddah (prayer book) every year. My mother is an extraordinary cook and her food is delicious on every holiday, but it is important to note, this is even true on Passover, which can be challenging for even the best cooks.

Most of all, though, the fun, these days is about the kids. At our table, we had 5 boys under the age of 10. It was energetic and loud and silly. The prayers this year were kid- friendly. My son read the four questions and my sweet nephew dressed up as Moses. It was an evening filled with laughter, fun, and closeness. Exactly the way holidays should be.

I always struggle with the pull of staying in the moment and enjoying vs. documenting the events of the day. I think most parents in this digital age feel the same. I am grateful for these few photos that my partner shot. I am grateful for the joy, my family, the freedom and this beautiful time of year.

What traditions are important to you and how do you celebrate them?

Portraits that Move client Michelle Roos shared her story about why documenting holidays, particularly Passover and her grandfather's birthday has meant so much to her.  Read her story on Kveller and share with us here and on Facebook how you are treasuring your family traditions now and throughout the year. 

All photos in post courtesy of David Marcus.

What My Son Taught Me About Listening

The other day I took my son to the pharmacy with me. When I got to the counter, the woman there, who has helped me many times noticed him and our relationship. "He is so cute she said, how old is he 9?" I agreed and then we got into a conversation of how fast the time goes, and how special life is with a young child.

Then something else happened, the woman started opening up to us. She told us that she had never had her own children, but had a nephew. She had been unemployed for the first year of his life and had been very involved in his care. He was very dear to her, almost like a son to her. She was deeply connected to how fast he was growing up, how short the time is and how precious each moment is. The conversation went on for a good ten to twelve minutes.

Eventually, we paid and left the store. After a pause, my son said to me, “Mom, she really wanted to talk to you today. She had a lot of things to tell you.”

I hugged him and said, “That’s true honey, but sometimes the best gift we can give someone…” He interrupted me: “I know mom, the best gift we can give someone is to listen because everyone has a story to tell, right?”

My eyes filled up with tears. I was so grateful that he knew this intuitively. He was open to her and to listening. My son showed me that he values storytelling and, more importantly, human connection. As parents we often wonder if we are doing a good job. We question whether the life lessons are sinking in and making sense. On this day, I was thrilled to realize that my son, had things to teach me.

And I was grateful that I was able to listen.

This week, take an extra moment to listen to the stories of those around you. Most importantly, take a moment to listen to your children, and to find those opportunities where they can teach you.

Photographer Erin Silber on Documenting Family Life

Guest Post by Erin Silber

Photographing families through Erin Silber Photography is such a joy.  Being invited into so many families’ lives and celebrating the sweet and loving connection everyone has for one another is what I am all about.  

Connection is so simple yet so challenging.  It seems to be getting harder and harder to cultivate true connection these days.  Everyone is overloaded by digital stimulation…. my kids and I included.  Everyone also seems to be overloaded by all their over-scheduled to-do lists.  We need to carve out time to get back to basics - to keep it simple.  We have to make extra efforts to put away the iPhones and really be in each other spaces and interact. 

When I’m with my children, we connect in many small and big ways.  We are not always successful but when we are… it is magical and builds memories for a lifetime.  We sometimes get in wrestling matches (I have two boys!), we go to the local schoolyard to throw the football around, we make pizza and kale chips together, we sing and dance in goofy, crazy ways.  We go on food adventures together…. lately it's been a lot of ramen.  We enjoy family movie night together – last Friday, we watched Little Shop of Horrors along with our special guests Grandma and Grandpa. 

We have dinner together every night and ask each other about our day.  And, we go on amazing trips together, like a massive cross-country trip around the United States.  Taking trips together really helps us to get out of our routines and connect.  Years from now, my sons won’t remember their favorite X-box game or Madden iPhone game score but they will remember their 11 mile hiking adventure through The Needles in Canyonlands with mom.  And they will remember going to the best BBQ joint in Memphis after surveying 10 people who worked at Graceland. 

And they will remember spending hours jumping waves together off of Sullivan’s Island, SC.  And they will remember the crab feast they had with their cousins in Dewey Beach, DE.  They will remember all this because we did it together…. in a very connected way…. and also because I took amazing pictures of it along the way.  And even if I didn’t capture it as documented photographs…. my boys captured those memories forever in their hearts.  I wish that connection for all of the families out there in this fast-moving modern world of ours. 

When I photograph families, I try to keep life simple.  I structure an atmosphere and tone where connected interaction is encouraged and celebrated.  I ask my clients to hold hands, embrace, tickle and play with each other.  Smiles, laughter and love... shared experiences with those you hold most dear… connection…. that’s what the joy of life is all about.  

My close friend, Susannah Ludwig totally gets this sense of joy and the need we have as parents to document and celebrate our always moving lives.  That’s why, in preparation for Mother’s Day, I am so excited to collaborate with Susannah’s heart-centered Portraits that Move in such a great way to give our clients some of their living, breathing family moments to cherish forever.

Get the perfect Mother’s Day Gift -  We have one more slot available - Join us for a special photo and video session April 2, 2017.

All photos courtesy of Erin Silber Photography

We are Celebrating New Beginnings with Huge Gratitude and Joy

We do great things when we work together.  This is true in business and in family life, and it is so apparent to me today, as we launch the brand new Portraits that Move website.

I am grateful to work with talented professionals, including women who help to enrich my life, enrich my business, and connect me with clients that enrich my daily experiences.

Our new website comes to you as Portraits that Move enters our fourth year of creating documentary-quality films for families.  Over the course of the last few years, I have had the privilege of getting to know you and your children, and I have had the honor of creating films that reflect back to you the connections, the beauty, and the unique magic that makes your family your own.

Together with my filmmaking team, we are building a legacy for you and your families, and for our own, through the work we do with and for you.

As we launch our new website today, we are excited to share a new springtime collaboration with family photographer Erin Silber. Erin is a talented photographer whose joyful spirit and love of family is infectious.  Erin Silber and Portraits that Move are partnering for a Spring Special that includes a mini-shoot photography session and a Portraits that Move video mini-shoot.  This is a rare opportunity to capture your family’s story in moving image and still photography at the same time

In the spirit of collaboration and new beginnings, join us on Sunday, April 2, for a beautiful day of celebrating your family.  Spaces are limited – please register before they are filled!

And thank you, again, for those who have been with us from the beginning, and for all those who are joining us now.  I am so happy to be on this journey of joy and connection with you.

With much love,

Susannah

Keep the Conversation Going: How to Communicate and Connect with Kids from Wherever You Are

This morning I boarded a plane for a work trip to Orlando to attend a board meeting for the Kids in Need Foundation. I was looking forward to the trip. I am proud of the work we do and I always leave our meetings feeling inspired and energized.

Still, I felt sad as I said goodbye to my son. I hate missing time with him. And even though the tasks of parenting can sometimes feel monotonous, I enjoy making his lunch, our walks to school and our evening routines.

This morning he seemed a bit quiet which made me feel that he was having similar feelings. At nine years old, he may not be able to express them, but I think any time we are separated from our children there is a slight amount of discomfort for everyone involved. And perhaps with children of divorce this may be even more so. 

It got me thinking about how to stay close to him while I am traveling. How can we both stay in tune with each other when we are hundreds of miles away? I think technology is an amazing tool we can use. I will facetime to connect with my son when he gets home from school. I will show him my hotel room and encourage him to do the same for me. I’d like to see his homework sheet, his dinner, the smile on his face. 

And we can stay close by asking some good, deep questions. Here are some questions that evoke answers that go beyond yes or no:

  • What was your favorite part of your day today?
  • What was the worst part?
  • Did someone do something for you that made you feel really special?
  • Who did you have lunch with?
  • What is new with your friends (and name them specifically)?
  • Did you learn something today that made you feel excited? If so, what was it?

I will also tell my son details about my day, the same way I do at home. That way he has a sense of where I am and what is happening. I will do the same tomorrow, all the while, reassuring him that I will be home tomorrow evening. It will be great to be reunited and in the meantime, we will stay close and our conversations will continue.

 

Overcoming Shyness: Tips for Working with Kids on Camera

People often ask me what happens if their child is shy or does not want to participate on the day we arrive to film their Portraits that Move video. I always respond with complete sincerity that this is not a problem at all.

Our main goal for the film shoot is to create an open, loving space for the child to be who they are. If they feel pressured, pushed or coerced in any way, it will not work.  We want your kids to know that we love them exactly as they are.

working with kids on camera tips

We recently did a holiday shoot for two girls, Savannah and Derby. For the second year in a row, we documented the sisters for their family's Holiday Video Card. We had spent time with them last year, we cherished them and the entire family loved their first video.

Still, when we arrived to shoot the video the next year, one of the girls, Derby, was not into us being there. Initially, she refused to talk to me. She did not want to do anything we asked of her and, at one point, she even hid from us.

tips to overcome shyness on camera filmmaking tips from kids director

I showed Derby love at every turn, letting her know that her feelings were normal.  I assured her and made her feel comfortable with the filming process in the following ways:

  • I let her know that she could show us and tell us what SHE wanted. All of her answers were up to her.
  • We loved her and smiled at her even through her protest. It is a weird situation to have a camera there - we acknowledged that, and we acknowledged her feelings.
  • We encouraged anything that would bring her comfort. You will see a purple stuffed snake throughout the video. She wanted it close to her, and we agreed.
  • When she said it was over for her, we wrapped it up. There is no reason to push a child beyond the point they are willing to go. Safety and comfort are most important.  Children need and deserve to feel in control of their own experience. After all, how can our kids show us their best selves if they feel uncomfortable?

Ultimately, the film captures Derby’s spirit beautifully. She is sparkly and loving and filled with fun. I loved spending the afternoon with her. I hope she felt the same. 

Resolution vs. Intention: Choosing Joy and Gratitude

There is an energy to this time of year, when we sit down and list what we want to do and how we want to be. We welcome the changes that a new year brings.  We write down our goals, we make plans to achieve them, we may even resolve to be more present, to savor the moment.

This year, at Portraits that Move, we are taking a slightly different approach to the coming year.  Rather than list out resolutions, ways we want to be different, things we want to change about ourselves or our circumstances, we are choosing to focus on intention.  All of us at Portraits that Move are committing to living and working and observing with intention.  Rather than a resolution to be more, to do more, to change this or that in a quest for a goal, this year, we are listening to that voice that reminds us to stop, to look at our life, at our work and at our goals and to determine how they align with our intention to find joy and to be grateful.

filmmaking family

We are lucky because doing so is exactly how we live out the Portraits that Move mission through the work we do as filmmakers every day.  We get to find and celebrate joy and gratitude every time we document the lives of families, and we have the unique privilege of being able to reflect that joy and gratitude back to them when we deliver their Portrait Films. 

This year, our team will work with all kinds of families.  For each of them, the coming days and months will take twists and turns.  In what seems like a moment, their children will grow, change, discover and surprise them.  In those moments - the unexpected, the everyday and the in between - they will discover joy and gratitude, and we will help them to witness it, and to preserve it. 

new years resolution vs intention

To you, the families we have grown with, and the new families we will meet this year, as you set your goals and state your resolutions, try to remember the peace and togetherness you found in the holiday season, or the peace and togetherness that you may have found at more unexpected, unplanned moments throughout the last year.  Like all of us, you are busy, every day, building your lives and your memories.

Our wish for you, our intention for, and our promise to you in the new year, is that you choose joy and that you choose gratitude through all of the beautiful, messy, ordinary and chaotic days this new year has in store.

Love and Thanks for Sharing a Beautiful Year with Us

Dear Friends,

2016 has been such a wonderful year for us. We were thrilled to release new kinds of videos from Portraits that Move including our Generations Video, the Portraits that Move Baby Video and our brand new gift card (perfect for your last minute holiday gifts!).

We worked with several families for the third year in a row and wrote many blog posts - including some for A Child Grows in Brooklyn.

We were also lucky enough to be featured in Forbes, Working Mother Magazine, the Women Killing It podcast, and NPR's Only Human.

last minute holiday gifts for families

Most of all, though, we were so blessed to have spent time with you and your families. We love all of our time with you and can’t believe our good fortune of getting to do this work. It is deeply fulfilling to share a moment in time with you, to get to know your children and to share in their brilliance. Thank you so much for trusting us, for believing in what we do and for sharing our work with your friends and family.

I want to wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season. May it be one that is filled with magic, joy, shimmer and hope.

We look forward to sharing some new things with you in 2017.

Until then, thank you, thank you!

With deep love and gratitude,

Susannah and the Portraits That Move Team

What Do You Really Need this Holiday Season?

The lists are long.  A list for entertaining, a list for baking, a list for gift giving, our children's wishlists that seem to get added to every day....

In this crush of planning and shopping and rushing towards the moments we want to remember, we know that at some point we will end up feeling lost and overwhelmed, as if all that we are supposed to be enjoying is passing us by. 

So how do we slow it down?  How do we find a way to give what really matters, what our loved ones really want?

We focus on the moment.

Think about why we are rushing and planning and making lists for the perfect gift, the perfect meal, the perfect celebration.  It is because we want to treasure our families.  We know this time is fleeting and we want to embrace it, celebrate it and slow it down enough to enjoy it, to look back on it with a warm heart, and with a calm heart.

custom family video gifts holiday gift ideas

This is what we do at Portraits that Move, we help you to slow down and savor the moment.  We help you to give the gift of more time with your family, the gift of celebrating who you are and who you are becoming together, every day.  

For the ones you love on your list, for your own family, choose the gift that we all want, the gift we all need, a moment in time that celebrates your children, your family, your life, right now, before this moment, before this holiday season, slips away.

Portraits that Move Gift Card

Our new Portraits that Move Gift Card is the perfect way for those of you who love what we do to give the gift of Portraits that Move in an affordable way, helping to make it easier for all the people on your gift giving list to own a Portrait Video or any of our other offerings by offsetting the cost, or by gifting the full price of the product.

Portraits that Move Signature Portrait

Give the gift of our Signature Portrait, what one mom calls "the perfect holiday gift."

Portraits that Move Holiday Video Card

Perfect for sending New Year greetings and holiday messages and guaranteed to be enjoyed by all the family and friends you want to share your love with, near and far.

Portraits that Move Review: Dad Calls Video "One Of the Most Valuable Things I Own"

My son Finn was one of the first Portraits that Move videos.  I was a little nervous about it at first.  

He can be shy and reserved with people, especially if he’s the center of attention, but Susannah has a natural kinship with children.

Finn opened up right away, taking the crew on a little tour of his life. He talked about his parents, his room, how much he loves books, then we went to the park to show off his bike.

He felt like a star.

The whole process was so simple, really just the afternoon, and within moments of Susannah’s arrival I knew she could get something special from the day. The results still choke me up, mainly because children change and evolve, sometimes it seems, overnight, but my family now has a moving snapshot of the little person he was at that age.

I really can’t recommend Portraits that Move more to people, and I’m always happy when I see Susannah and her crew in the neighborhood capturing the life of another child. The video is truly one of the most valuable things I own. 

- Michael Buckley, Portraits that Move Dad

On #GivingTuesday

We love #GivingTuesday. We love it because it highlights so much of what we are about at Portraits That Move. Sharing in joy, being generous, helping others and telling important stories are all things that we talk about every day, but especially during the holiday season.

We are giving our time (and our resources) to a number of organizations this year and we wanted to tell you about them, in the hopes that you may be inspired to do the same.

Here is our list: 

Kids in Need Foundation

KINF gives school supplies to children who cannot afford them. The organization has many important programs including backpack drives and a Second Responder Program. We have helped KINF tell their story through making a video about Jayshaun. 

 

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation is an organization that supports funding for fighting childhood cancer. They do so both by raising money for scientific research and by helping families who are living with cancer.

Through Portraits that Heal, we create Hero Stories for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.

Meet Maggie, whose story we recently had the opportunity to share. 

 

Ronald McDonald House, NYC

Ronald McDonald House is a national organization that supports families of children suffering with chronic illness. They do this by providing an affordable place for families to stay when children are hospitalized for long periods of time.

We shared our experiences with Ronald McDonald House and how it helps to promote gratitude every day.

City Harvest

City Harvest provides food for New York’s hungry. This time of year it is especially important to help take care of the hungry and homeless in our city.

Portraits that Heal

We would be remiss in not mentioning our own Portraits That Heal. We accept contributions towards our work of telling stories of children suffering with childhood illness.

Learn more about Portraits that Heal and let us know if you know about an organization or an individual whose story needs to be told on #GivingTuesday and every day. 

If you know someone who has a sick child whose story needs to be told, tell us and we will do our best to tell it. All children have stories and the legacy of kids with childhood illness is valuable. Help us tell more of their stories. 

Parent Challenge: Reactivate and Celebrate Imagination

I have been lucky to have had Elizabeth Eames as part of the Portraits that Move family for the last couple years. Liz has helped me to clarify and  communicate my vision for the company with leadership and with love and I am so happy when she shares some of her thoughts on parenting, life and joy with us on the blog, as she did here, and as she does today.

This piece is a reminder to our children, and to ourselves, that we can dream and we can achieve, whether we aim to be the first female president, to make art that moves people's hearts, or to do things, big and small, that make this world a better place.

Do you ever have one of those moments when you think that kids have it all figured out?  A moment you are sure that, even though we are the ones making the lunches and the appointments, registering for all the classes, finding the best this and researching the right that, that it’s our kids who possess a certain kind of wisdom that we lack?  A wisdom that we may have had, once, but can’t seem to access or to activate?

I had one of those moments this Halloween, walking through my neighborhood that had been transformed into a series of haunted houses and pumpkin patches, a place that seemed to have been taken over by the power of imagination and a collective desire to tell stories, and to play.

And our children led this transformation.  On Halloween, we give our kids license to let their imaginations run away with them, more so than we seem willing, or able, to do on the average Monday afternoon.  And they embrace it, they take to it like it is their natural state.  Because, perhaps, it is.

They pull on their costumes and it is less about knocking on doors and asking for candy and more about embodying the stuff of their imagination, becoming the wolf, or the tiger, or the superhero of their dreams.

Halloween tips parenting imagination creativity portraits that move elizabeth eames

As I watch my friends who have children older than mine, for whom fall has come to mean middle school and high school open houses, test preparation, and weighty decision after weighty decision, I am all the more aware of what a special day Halloween has become, of what a treat it is to allow our children to imagine, and to play. All too quickly, the time of vivid imagination and abandon fades as our kids move from one stage to the next. As adults, we end up having to relearn how to connect with imagination and how to let go if we want rich, creative lives.  If we want the kind of lives we are working so hard to build for our children.

This week, as you are cleaning up candy wrappers and marking down all of the November events on your master calendar, take this challenge with me. Try to contain your anxiety about your children’s future, about what they will do, about who they will be, and revel in what they are doing now, truly look at who they are right now, in all their messy, wonder-filled glory.  Put the brakes on competition among our children and among ourselves.  Use the moment that they are running down the street a little farther from you than they could have last year, skipping and singing, roaring and clanging their imaginary swords, to realize that they are exactly what they should be.  They are children, finding perfect joy in a perfect moment.  And we should, too. 

- Elizabeth Eames, November 2016

The Joy of Watching Our Children Grow

This year we have had the great blessing of working with some of our Portraits that Move families for the third year in a row. It is an incredible experience and all that I hoped it would be when I started Portraits That Move.

It is fantastic to talk to our children about what moves them, inspires them and motivates them. I love hearing about all of their feelings and observing how their interests and passions change from year to year. I am able to see the incremental change in a way that you as their parent may not always recognize. I think it is also fun for the kids. They are excited to tell me things - to show me how they have grown.

I am a person that has a heightened sense of the passage of time. As a result of the health challenges that I have had, I have always had an intense awareness of the fragility of life and the quick passage of time.  I want to preserve moments in time for you, for your family and for your children’s children.

The families that work with us year after year love having a personal catalog of our work. They enjoy both the process and the final family videos. I feel grateful for the trust they extend to me to listen to and connect with their children. I am grateful to parents for inviting me to capture the passage of time, to give the gift of time back to them, and to their children.  

The work we do, creating custom documentary quality videos of families, is a gift to each of us as Portraits that Move filmmakers. As we enter into the holiday season, I look forward to giving that gift to all of you. 

My Best Gift Ever: Time Capsule for a Grandmother

Recently, we received a note from Bonnie Fagan, a grandmother who received a Signature Portrait from Portraits that Move as a gift from her daughter and grandchildren.

Bonnie has been kind enough to allow us to share her words with you, words that speak to the power of Portraits that Move and our mission of sharing joy and celebrating family.

Months ago my daughter gave me a Portraits that Move video of my two grandsons living in Brooklyn, New York.  We are many miles away from one another, but this video keeps me smiling and happy.  I look at it weekly it seems.  Just want to feel the love even though I can’t just reach out and touch them.

The spirit of each child was captured in just minutes... their image and personality captured in a short time capsule.  I feel so grateful that I have this to switch on when I miss the boys the most.

Thank  you for thinking of this great idea... my best gift ever!  To me this has been truly priceless. 

- Bonnie Fagan, from Washington DC and Badger’s Island Maine