The Three Questions to Ask Kids after Practice

It’s the season for sports and music and art classes. Back to School is in full swing and kids’ schedules are getting busier and busier. With that, comes more opportunity for good conversations and memorable storytelling that improve kids’ confidence and strengthen your bond.

Here’s a rundown of how to create those kinds of conversations, starting with a reminder to carve out time to talk to kids about their experiences, motivations, and emotions. When we are shuffling from activity to activity while trying to meet our own deadlines, finding time and space to have those conversations is hard.

Remember, it doesn’t take a long time to have a good conversation. Grab your moments and be intentional.

Start by asking these three questions when you pick up your kids from their next soccer practice or orchestra rehearsal.

What was the best part?

Focus on the positive. Asking your child to identify the best part of soccer practice encourages her to look for positive experiences, even if (especially if) the practice didn't go as smoothly as she wanted, or didn't live up to her expectations.

 Photo by  Jeffrey Lin  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jeffrey Lin on Unsplash

Taking a moment to assess an experience and find the good in it helps your child practice balance, gratitude and hopefulness. When you encourage your child to do this through conversation, you are helping them through the process and reminding them that they are not alone – you are there with them to celebrate and to support.

 “What was the best part” is the perfect first question because it gives your child something to celebrate, something good to share with you. It goes a long way to creating a safe, comfortable space for kids to talk to and connect with you.

Asking your child to share the best part of orchestra or soccer practice gives them a launch pad for a story and a path for a meaningful conversation. It gives you a glimpse into what matters to them, and what they value. This is the heart of real conversations. And it often makes for a great story!

How do you think you played?

This second question moves into the topics that are more difficult for your kids to talk about, but even more necessary for you to dig into together.

Be careful how you frame this question. If kids feel like they are being interrogated or judged, they shut down. Your conversation, your relationship, and their confidence suffer. 

This doesn't mean that kids don't want to share their challenges with parents - they do - but they want to do so in a way that does not make them feel more judged, or more embarrassed, than they may already feel. Sometimes your child leaves practice feeling vulnerable. If she ran into another player because the coach said "go right" and she went left, she may have been hurt, and she may have been laughed at. Don’t compound her negative feelings about herself or the situation. Let her take the lead in explaining the experience from her point of view and walk through how to address it together, carefully and respectfully.

 Photo by  Markus Spiske  on  Unsplash

“How do you think you played” creates space for kids to communicate. It signals that you are interested in how they are playing because you care about them, and you care about the things that matter to them. You are not looking for a scouting report. Their answers don’t change how much you love them or how proud of them you are.

Everyone wants to get better - that's why they practice. Let your child know that you are not asking these questions because you want to see immediate results. He does not need to master every note in his orchestra piece today. You are engaged in the learning process, warts and all. You are present for their stories and you are ready to help them achieve their goals.

Part of achieving those goals is discovering what they need to work on. That’s why “how do you think you played” is a good way to help kids evaluate where they are and where they want to be without judgement or pressure. It is much more productive – for your conversation and for their development – than “what did you do wrong” or “why was the conductor yelling at you.”

It also gives you, as a parent, the opportunity to share your own stories. Kids love to hear about what parents were like when we were their age. If you can share an embarrassing story, or an example of how you faced a challenge, your child feels less alone and more encouraged. Remember, when you are sharing your stories, this is not the time to take over the conversation, to air out old grievances, or to show off. Let your child take the lead.

What are you looking forward to next time?

Look-ahead questions create interesting and honest conversations. When you ask your child what she is looking forward to next time, you are encouraging her to move on from disappointments and build on successes. And you are doing that without commanding her to “move on” or “work harder.”

 Photo by  Fede Casanova  on  Unsplash

Even more importantly, a look-ahead question like this signals to your kids that you are with them for the long haul. You did not start this conversation so that they could deliver you a report that you can file away. You did not ask them to open up to you simply to fill the time on the way home. You are engaged with them and supportive of them. You are in this together.

Every question you ask your children is an opening for them to share their stories, to build their confidence, and to strengthen your bond comfortably and safely.

This is a busy season. We – parents and kids – too often feel like we are rushing through our lives, never taking time to look back, to look forward, or to be present in the moment with each other. Taking even a small amount of time to have an intentional conversation with each other slows everything down just enough so that we don’t miss these precious moments and we don’t rush through opportunities to connect with each other and celebrate each other.

Ask your child these questions. You’ll still make it to your next activity on time.

- Elizabeth Eames, September 2018

Elizabeth Eames is a professional communicator, a parent, and a member of the Portraits that Move Team.

Camp Lessons for Mom

This summer I experienced one of the great rites of passage of parenthood, I dropped off my son at sleep away camp. I had spent weeks, putting together all the things he would need. I had mailed letters to him in advance of his departure and given him tons of extra hugs. Since I felt anxious about the separation, I read a book about it, Homesick and Happy, by Michael Thompson.

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On the day we got to camp, it was a sunny, beautiful day. The weather was perfect. Music blared from loud speakers. The staff was welcoming. It seemed like a big, fun party in a gorgeous location. We got my son settled in to his bunk, made his bed, put his things away and made introductions to his counselors and bunkmates.

When the time came to leave, I had a pit in my stomach. But then something amazing happened. In an instant, my son had his bathing suit on and was making plans with his new friends to swim in the lake. He was excited and already engaged. He barely said goodbye to us.

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And suddenly, I did not feel sad anymore. I felt the relief of knowing that the decision we made to send him to camp was the right one for him. He was ready and now was his time to grow. And I guess, as his mom, I was ready to grow too.

The pace of parenthood always moves me. It goes by so fast. Yet, somehow, when we take time to stop, be present and trust in the growth, it can be beautiful.

Those are the moments we capture on film. Those are the moments we return to when we need them most – as filmmakers and as parents.

Guest Post: Helping Bring Work to Life in New Ways for Family Photographers

Led by Executive Producer Susannah Ludwig, Portraits that Move filmed photographers Ben and Trudie Larrabee for an on location video, titled Moments of Grace: The Ben Larrabee Experience. Below, Ben and Trudie share their experience working with Susannah and members of the Portraits that Move team, including how it will help them reach new clients in a new way, that honors the art - and the heart - of their process.

What surprised us most about the filming experience with Portraits That Move was just how important it is to keep the photo session an intimate experience. This is the first time we had outsiders with us. It is that intimacy which allows our clients to freely open up; revealing that special bond within the family that Ben is able to capture. Everyone needs to be participating in the experience.

We appreciate how the Portraits that Move camerawoman blended into this intimate experience. She was nimble and agile.

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After the shoot we came back to the house where we sat with Susannah for an interview. Susannah didn’t want us to know the questions in advance so we could respond spontaneously, much like how we approach a shoot. Her questions were insightful, Trudie was emotional answering some of them. We really felt Susannah’s appreciation for our artistic process and our artist/muse relationship.

When we watch our video we like how Ben’s final black and white images are integrated into the piece. The images give a good feeling for what we produce. The images tie well into the filming of Ben photographing the situations.

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The use of Ben and Trudie’s voices tie beautifully into the filming, in particular the part where Ben says “don’t get the kids, let us find the kids, I don’t want to interrupt what’s going on with the family”. The next scene is Ben photographing the youngest in a quiet moment playing with her doll.

We believe this video will help prospective and existing clients better understand what to expect from working with us. The video gives a behind the scenes look at how we approach a photo session. Even though we tell them the first person who opens the door gets photographed, it is very clear when they see that actually happening at the beginning of the video.

The video shows our approach to a shoot is an active encounter between the photographer and the family. There is no sitting around posing and looking at the camera like most people are used to seeing.  

We tell our clients to wear what they like on a shoot and forget all the rules they’ve read. The video shows them that it doesn’t matter what clothes they wear as long as they like what they’re wearing. Each family member’s choice of clothes expresses their personality. The middle daughter is wearing her fluffy slippers, Dad is barefoot. Everyone is informally dressed. When restrictions are taken away the clients relax.

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We want our clients to know we are a team on the shoot. The footage of Trudie handing a lens to Ben and holding the light disc shows that we work together and portrays our relationship.

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We like the edit of Ben talking about the options for clients of framing their images, putting them in a book or in a museum case. We want clients to know that Ben is an artist. The strong ending sums it all up about having a life-long relationship with our clients.

We are pleased with the final outcome and grateful to Susannah and Portraits that Move.

- Trudie and Ben

4 Self Care Tips for Bar Mitzvah Planning Moms

Bar Mitzvah planning is a hectic, often overwhelming process. You are likely to find yourself second guessing, worrying over details large and small, and wondering if you are doing enough to support and celebrate your child. Basically, it's a microcosm of parenting.

There are so many decisions to be made, from the Bar/Bat Mitzvah planner to the venue, to the theme, to the Bar Mitzvah montage video, to the guest lists and seating charts. It is a recipe for stress, especially for already busy moms.

 Original Photo by  Lonely Planet  on  Unsplash  

Original Photo by Lonely Planet on Unsplash 

Work with a Planner and Delegate

Do not attempt this on your own! Hire a Bar Mitzvah planner that you trust, who understands what you want, from the vibe to the budget. When you hire a planner, you are bringing in an expert who will connect you with Bar Mitzvah vendors that save you the stress of feeling like you have to reinvent the wheel, or manage the entire world.

Here’s the catch, though, and it is essential to self care: delegate. Let your planner do what he/she does best and do not stress over whether or not they will do what they say. If you hired the right person, they truly understand what is at stake, and they will not let you down. After all, their business, and their reputation, are on the line.

Delegate to your family, too. Involve your child, who will no doubt have ideas of his/her own. But be sure to come to them with calmness and with appropriate sized jobs and reasonable expectations, otherwise you compound the stress for both of you. Use the planning (and delegating!) process as time to talk with your son or daughter about the experience, and to encourage self care - for both of you – as you prepare.

Be Confident in Your Decisions

Once you make a decision, whether it is about the venue, the Bat Mitzvah dress, or who to invite (or not invite), check it off the list and move on. Nothing is more exhausting (and less productive) than second guessing yourself. Now is not the time to add more exhaustion to your days and nights - you will be busy enough moving on to the next Bar/Bat Mitzvah planning details.

We have seen too many parents about to crumble when they are picking images for the Bar Mitzvah montage portion of our videos. As a parent in the midst of this process, if you don’t take time to slow down and practice a little self care, suddenly, you can’t make a single decision without fearing that it is the wrong one. Remember the advice you got when you brought home the little baby that’s now not so little and nowhere near a baby: you will know what’s best.

You know what’s right for you and for your family. You know the moments that matter most to you and to each other. Those are the moments you want to include in your video, those are the moments that have led to this one. Be confident in all the right decisions that you have made and are making. They are what brought you and your child to this point, and they are what you are celebrating.

Check in with Friends

Way back when you were a new mom, you met a group of friends that were your safe space to ask questions about diaper blowouts and how many times to check on the baby once he finally fell asleep. Guess what? Those same moms are going through the Bar/Bat Mitzvah planning process, too. Rally your group of moms, whether you have been in touch on a daily basis or not. Meet for a drink, have a few laughs, and talk about the ups and downs of this process in a way that only other moms going through it will understand.

 Photo by  Becca Tapert  on  Unsplash

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

Listen to their recommendations about DJs and party supplies, but also ask them the questions you can’t ask anyone else. How am I really going to feel? What happened to my baby? What can we do to support each other from the party details to the new reality of parenting older kids? Just as you supported each other in your early days as moms, you will see the value of supporting each other now – of being heard and understood by people who really get it. There is no substitute for the energy we get from other supportive moms. It’s the perfect way to restore our sense of balance at this time (just be sure this is a circle you trust – we’re talking about collaboration, not competition!).

Step Away and Spend Time with your Child

Let this be your mantra: "this is about my child." Do not lose sight of the reason you are doing all of this Bar/Bat Mitzah planning. This is a time to celebrate your child, and there is no better way to do that than to spend a bit of time with them. Listen to what your son has to say, not just about his Bar Mitzvah theme ideas, but about what the preparation process feels like for him. How is he growing and changing? Does he have any fears about the day? Ask your daughter to show you what she is reading, and how she is preparing. Talk with her about what her Bat Mitzvah experience means, and how it is preparing her for her next steps in life.

These conversations ground us, they restore us. When we take a moment to talk with our children we not only remember what the Bar Mitzvah experience is about. We have the opportunity to practice self care and model that for our children, and we get to move from feeling overwhelmed to feeling excited, and grateful as the day approaches.

Passages of Time

About three weeks ago, my sweet son graduated from elementary school. Admidst the ceremonies and parties and the bidding farewell to teachers there was much excitement and there were some tears, too.

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I’ll admit, the tears were mostly mine. I was overwhelmed, filled up by the emotion of it all. The rush of time moves me so much, I felt on the brink of tears for most of June. It is hard to describe the exact reason. I felt sad that my baby is not a baby. I felt sad that he is my only child and that this part of the journey is over for me as a parent. He is growing so fast and is almost a teenager. I want to hold on to our routines, our sweet time together, our personal daily rituals.

Competing with the tears was tremendous pride and his excitement, which was contagious. He is ready for a new school, a change, new friends, new challenges. I am proud of his fearlessness and excited to see what lies around the next bend for him.

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I started Portraits that Move because I assume that all deep feelings are universal and that most parents share these bittersweet feelings around the passage of time. I imagine that most want to stop the clock the way I do. Don't you? This urge pushes me to find new ways to create videos that are meaningful for families as they go through rites of passage. How can we help you remember the first day of kindergarten, the special family trip, the graduation, the Bar or Bat Mitzvah

As filmmakers and parents, we want to be here to help you hold on, to stay in the moment and to capture it for you. The feelings will still be there - but knowing we are documenting the moment allows you to have something special to hold on to, with your own joy-filled tears.

3 Ways to Create Memorable Moments that Build Confidence and Communication Skills

Every moment matters, and during the summer, we (ideally) have a little more time to share moments and make memories together.  To celebrate the official start of summer in New York City, we are sharing three ways to create moments that foster conversation, engage creativity and create space for your children to connect with you and with others, and to share their stories and ideas with confidence.

Write to a Summer Pen Pal

Sit down with your child to choose a pen pal to write to throughout the summer.  Your child might opt to write to a friend from school who is away at camp or on vacation, a grandparent, a cousin, or someone special in their lives.

Writing to a pen pal, whether it is through snail mail or email, gives your children the opportunity to express themselves, to share their stories and relay their observations.  Receiving mail (especially traditional mail) is exciting for kids.  It gives them something to look forward to, teaches them about delayed gratification, and shows that someone took time to listen to, care about, engage with and respond to their words.  This is a powerful gift that builds confidence and helps your children develop their voices.

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Make sure that you know and trust the person with whom your child is communicating before embarking on a pen pal project.  If your child is corresponding by email, review cyber safety rules before logging on, and confirm that your child has the correct address for his/her pen pal.

Start a Family Book Club

A family book club is an ideal way for kids to connect with parents and siblings.  It gives you a shared activity to do together that revolves around observation and communication – key elements of meaningful moments shared through stories (both those you read and those you tell).

Take turns selecting a book for the family to read and discuss.  Let your kids pick the books first so that they can share something they love with you, and can lead the initial book club discussions.  A family book club helps with skill building during the summer (we see you, Summer Slide) but even more, it creates a pathway to conversation.  Book clubs are safe spaces to connect over ideas and events that you read about.  Inevitably, this gives your children the comfort and the confidence to talk about issues or concerns they face in their own lives in a way that feels more natural, and more open, than direct questioning about how they are doing or what they are feeling on a given school day afternoon.

Consider holding each of your book club meetings in a different location – the living room, in the backyard or out in a park, in one of your children’s bedroom to allow them to play host.  Changing your environment helps to set different tones for conversations and can make those conversations flow more energetically.

Put a New Spin on Old Games

Reinvent Game Night in your home by kicking up the creativity and re-imaging favorite games based on your child’s or your family’s favorite hobbies, characters or teams.  Our list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a great place to start!

Minecraft Charades

Played like traditional charades, but with categories unique to Minecraft, this serves as the perfect way to bring your kid’s screen life into real life.  Your kids will be happy to take the lead on this one, sharing their insight on their favorite game.  You will learn more about something they love and why they love it.

Giving children the opportunity to be experts on something creates memorable, enjoyable moments for your family.  It also gives them the chance to flex their leadership skills, to build confidence, and to realize that they have things to teach you and that you are willing and open to learn from them.  That is the hallmark of open dialogue and good conversation in families.

Character Tic-Tac-Toe

Create a tic-tac-toe game that replaces the Xs and Os with your child’s favorite storybook characters.  To make the pieces, your kids can draw or print out images.

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During the making and playing process, you will be amazed to see how your child begins to talk about the characters and the stories, why they like them, what happens in the stories, and how they connect to their own lives.  Children are natural sharers and they love to welcome us parents into their world.  The busy pace of life often makes that difficult, but slowing down even for a moment to share a simple project and play a simple game like this can be the missing piece of meaningful, simple connection that we often struggle to find.

Build Your Own Chess Set

Ideal for older children or larger families, building and playing with a customized chess set can be a fun, creative summer long activity full of moments for the whole family to enjoy.  Using items found around the house, from the recycling bin to the craft closet, build a chess set around a theme your family enjoys.

You might make a set based on rival baseball teams, characters from favorite TV shows or movies, or places that are special in your family history.  Once again, the act of making the pieces and the game board is full of opportunities for communication and connection.  Working on a creative project together forges your bond as a family and builds your child’s leadership, listening and teamwork skills.

This summer, take as many moments as you can to try activities like these to give your children the space they need to connect and share with you, and to give yourself the gift of time well spent.

- Elizabeth Eames, June 2018

Extra Time for Dad

No matter the season, no matter how hard we try, what we all want, more than anything else, is more time.  When it comes to gift giving that can be as difficult a wish to fulfill as it is in daily life.  Add to that the fact that most of the dads in our lives are notoriously difficult to shop for, and Father's Day gift giving can be a challenge.  It's no wonder the ubiquitous tie retains its popularity.

Our Portraits that Move team has another idea up our sleeves.  Let's give dad a little more time with his family.  Let's give him moments that can travel with him on business trips, or that he can take a quick break to enjoy during a busy day.

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Children change so quickly and we - moms and dads - feel that, if only we could bottle up these small moments, we wouldn't feel like they are being lost to the speed of life.  With our Portrait videos, you can do just that.  You can grab a moment in time - your kids as they are now, with a loose tooth, in the throes of their Harry Potter obsession, whatever it is, whoever they are, at this moment.  All the things you want to remember but fear you can't slow down enough to commit to memory and to enjoy are in our videos..

Give the dads in your life that gift this year. 

20% off for Father's Day

Use code FATHERSDAY to save 20% off a Portraits that Move Signature Portrait Video you put a deposit on by Monday, June 18th, and we will send you a custom digital Father's Day Card for your big gift reveal! 

Questions about booking your Portrait or planning your shoot?  Contact us and we will walk you through the process!

Brooklyn Family Photographer Raquel Frechette Features Susannah Ludwig in Mornings with Series

I met Raquel Frechette a few years ago and have been inspired by her and her work ever since. When she mentioned her new photo project to me and we discussed our participating, it was an easy yes. 

 Image by Raquel Frechette,   Mornings with Series  , 2018 

Image by Raquel Frechette, Mornings with Series, 2018 

I think Raquel has an exquisite, intuitive eye and working with her was easy and filled with fun. It was moving and interesting to experience being on the opposite side of the camera, but she made it comfortable and fun for me and for my son. I didn't feel self conscious - and as you can see in the images, neither did Jack.

I had the feeling that my son and I were given the opportunity to learn from a master. And I feel grateful to have had that. Raquel and I share the same professional/life philosophy, namely that these small, everyday moments of our lives are the ones to cherish.  I am so thankful that Raquel took the time to cherish our moments. These photos are a gift - one that I will hang onto always and that I feel privileged to share with you. 

When Mother's Day is Hard

If you know one thing about Portraits that Move, it is that we love to celebrate life's moments of all sizes.  Our love of celebration most most certainly includes holidays, and Mother's Day holds a special place in our hearts.

As much as we love celebrating our fellow moms, we understand all too well that Mother's Day can be a painful holiday for many.  Many of us have experienced a complicated journey to motherhood, or have found that our motherhood experiences are in sharp contrast with our expectations.  We know that Mother’s Day, more often than not, can be a reminder of our losses more than a celebration of our lives.

For these reasons and so many more, as Mother’s Day approaches, we are working hard to pause, to create space for feeling, working through, and sharing all of our emotions surrounding this holiday that ends up being much more than a Hallmark moment, whether or not we had planned for that.

Our message to you this week is simple.  As you prepare for Mother's Day weekend, we invite you to look to your children for lessons and to let them take the lead in celebrating the holiday.  It is inspiring – and so impressive – to see what children are able to do when we create space for them to be heard, to share their emotions, their enthusiasm, and their ideas.

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This weekend, remember to flex those muscles that motherhood hones so well: patience, gratitude, openness.  Acknowledge and honor your losses privately and with those you love.  Release your expectations for the perfect day (it doesn’t exist!).  Resist the temptation to compare your day, and the feelings you have about Mother’s Day, to your Instagram feed.  Remember to celebrate your family, your motherhood journey, and your experiences, however imperfect you may think they are.

Happy Mother's Day,

The Portraits that Move Team

Our Mother's Day Gift to You

Schedule a Portraits that Move Signature Portrait consultation by the end of the month (May 31, 2018) and get 25% off, with code #HAPPYMOMDAY

Happy Birthday!

I am so excited to be celebrating our fourth birthday! It has been an incredible four years that have been filled with more fun, joy, connection and closeness than I expected. My little idea of giving the gift of a moment to families has turned into so much more. 

The best part of Portraits that Move, for me, is our clients. I get a thrill when we meet a new client for the first time and I feel a sense of coming home when we make a new video for a returning client. I love our families so much and feel grateful to them for welcoming us into their homes and into their lives. My world has expanded from Portraits That Move and I hope we have spread our love and joy to you and those you love. 

I want to also shout out to all of the people who work on our Portraits that Move videos. This is a team process and we have the best team. Special thanks to Liz, for all that you do - you are a serious gift to this company. 

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As we start our fifth year, we are going to be celebrating more. We are amping up our joy as we create more videos for special celebrations starting with our new Bar and Bat Mitzvah videos.

The feeling is festive over here and we would never be here without you. Thank you, thank you for being part of our community. Thank you for allowing us to share in your joy. It means the world and we can’t wait to wake up every day and keep creating. 

With the deepest gratitude and a lot of cake,
Susannah

PS - We have a birthday gift just for you! In honor of our 4th birthday, we are giving away $100 PTM gift cards to the first four people who comment #HappyBirthdayPTM on our Instagram by 6:00 p.m. TODAY (3/1/18)!

My Portraits that Move Moment: Confessions of a Mom with too Much

No more stuff!  I must not be alone in this mantra, as we emerge from the holiday madness and our mailboxes, physical and digital, start filling up with Valentine's Day announcements: Sales!  Gift ideas!  Don't forget gifts for your pets!  Buy one, get one!  More, more, more.  

It has never been so clear to me that my family is at odds with our lifestyle.  We truly do have an abundance, but we are not living abundantly, not even close.  And it feels like we are moving farther and farther away from gratitude.  We are well past taking the advice to do more with less.  Now, it is time to have less - and to do less - in order to appreciate more.

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Looking around at all of this stuff, I realize that what I really want is three minutes.  I want three minutes of peace and calm.  Three minutes to give myself permission to do nothing but enjoy my daughter, to awaken gratitude, to replace the stress of excess with an awareness of abundance and a real appreciation for it.

I don't want tokens scattered across every empty surface to gather dust.  I don't want more photo albums I have to file.  I want three minutes that I can call up whenever I need to remind myself that underneath all of this mess, there is a beautiful, vibrant life and that there is a way to slow it down, to steady it, to bask in it. 

This is why I love working with Portraits that Move, because the filmmakers on this team use their professional experience and their artistry to hand deliver much needed moments to parents like me.

Elizabeth Eames, February 2018

What Telling My Own Story Taught Me about Portraits that Move

Recently I shared special memory of mine on the Portraits that Move Facebook page, my interview on NPR's Only Human by host Mary Harris.  Reading the reactions of friends and clients prompted me to dig a little deeper into what the experience of being interviewed was like for me, a person who has spent her career on the other side, asking the questions that help others tell their stories.

What I discovered in my own experience confirmed the importance of telling and sharing our stories, and the very real ways in which that act can be healing for ourselves and for our relationships.

Parents and children

My father joined me for the interview to discuss his role both as a doctor and a father of a child with health challenges. Having my father in the room while I was being interviewed was very moving. On one hand, I felt protective of him and was aware of a desire not to say anything that would hurt him or my mother in any way. At the same time, it was an incredibly healing experience. We had the opportunity to talk about how my health affected both of us, which was something we had rarely done before.

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It gave me an important window into how both parents and kids must feel during
the interview process when I create our Portraits that Heal films in particular. Parents feel a need to be involved, to listen, and to be part of the experience. For the children we work with, both for Portraits that Move films and Portraits that Heal films, sometimes having a parent present for the interview process may be comforting, but often they may feel more free without a parent in the room listening to them answer our questions.

I often wonder what I would have said if the interview was with just me. I would
have likely felt more vulnerable and would not have had the opportunity for
connection and healing that occurred. When I interview kids now with their
parents in the room, I look at it as an opportunity for connection, for what we are
doing to be a conversation starter. I hope that after I leave the shoot they keep
talking and never stop.

Switching roles

Having been through the experience of being interviewed about personal aspects of my own story, I think I am a more gentle interviewer now. I go into each shoot with fewer specific expectations. In the case of the Only Human interview, I think both the host and I had a specific plan for how the interview would go and the final story is different than what we both imagined. This was only possible because of the openness on her part and the level of honesty on mine. We were both willing to go where the morning took us. I think the best experiences and stories happen this way. Ultimately, it is important to me that our families enjoy the experience of creating a Portraits that Move film. When they do, that joy is apparent in their video.

Talking about health and healing

Since the Only Human interview two years ago, I am even more sensitive to creating space for children who are living with health challenges to tell me their stories in exactly the ways they want to. Every illness is different and every experience is different. Kids deal with their
health in all kinds of ways and however they want to talk about that is up to them.

I feel grateful - even more grateful now - to share in their stories. Telling mine was an incredible exercise in vulnerability, but it was something I felt called to do. The way in which I told my story was specific to me and to where I was at at that particular moment in time. I believe our Portraits that Move videos and Portraits that Heal videos reflect a similar intention to capture the present moment in the way feels right for the people we are documenting.

Looking Back - Favorite Moments of 2017

2017 was filled with some wonderful moments for us at Portraits that Move, both on camera and off.  

Watching our Portraits that Move videos and seeing the work we do and the smiles and stories we capture for families inspires us to do even more. In a special #MondayMotivation edition of our blog, we are looking back today at some of the moments we brought to life on film that bring us the most joy.

When Zach kisses mom.

The day Charlotte explained why "Rose" is her favorite word.

Violet, wise beyond her years, teaching us what it means to be in love.

Siblings Eli and Lilah sharing what they love about each other.

Hearing Ethan explain in his own words what his Bar Mitzvah really means to him.

Spreading holiday love with Mama and Tata.

Seeing how proud Alex and Noah are when they talk about their mom running the New York City  Marathon.

Listening to Amelia and Seamus' stories about their 2017 travels.

Witt and Lou Lou talking about the joy of living with their grandma.

Joy is our guiding word at Portraits that Move and it truly is our pleasure to help document and share it with you.

Here's to a new year filled with joyful memories and moments with all of you!

What Do Our Children Really Think about the Holiday Season?

Busy parents are a whole new kind of busy when the holiday season kicks into gear.  We have all seen that mom - or been that mom - who is running around to holiday shows, parties, picking out gifts for teachers, wrapping late into the night, and baking... and baking... and baking.

By the time we get the chance to sit down and enjoy a meal or a party with our family, those of us moms who have been running around since the week before Thanksgiving making lists and checking them more than twice, are ready to drop.  In our quest to create seasonal magic for everyone around us, we have exhausted ourselves.  And we have to wonder, have we exhausted our kids, too? 

Is there any joy left to the season, or did we schedule and plan our way out of it?

It's time to rewind and slow down before our kids become as overwhelmed as we are and the first step to doing that is by asking our children.

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Asking the right questions and creating space to really listen to our children helps us to determine what traditions matter to them, and what we should skip this year.

Their answers might surprise you.  Maybe they enjoy doing a holiday craft or taking out ornaments with their baby pictures on them.  Maybe they look forward to watching a favorite movie because they like how you sing the words to all the songs and, more than anything, our children want to see us happy.  They want to know that they can bring us joy and we can share joy with them.

The gifts, the parties, the Instagram-ready decorations and desserts can be wonderful, but ask your children what moments really matter to them, what moments they think of when they consider what the holidays mean to them.  The moments might be smaller than you think, and far more special.

From all of us at Portraits that Move, we wish you a season filled with the small moments that matter, with the people that truly bring you joy.

A Gift for You

Purchase a Signature Portrait by December 31, 2017, and receive a 20% discount with code HOLIDAY2017.

Practice Gratitude by Giving

It’s Giving Tuesday, a day that we cherish at Portraits That Move. We love it because we value helping others and teaching our kids that they can have an impact on the world around them.

This year, we are giving 10% of all bookings made today to the KIDS IN NEED FOUNDATION. Kids in Need is an incredible organization that gives school supplies to children who can’t afford them. I have been involved with KINF for several years and sit on its Board of Directors.

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I was moved to learn that when kids don’t have the supplies they need it can affect how they perform in school, and even more than that, how they feel about themselves. The simple act of giving children pencils, notebooks and other supplies can have a huge impact on their days, their school years and their futures.

Please have a look at KINF’s mission, consider donating or getting involved with the foundation!

With much love and gratitude,

Susannah

Gratitude and Transitions

This time of year is always an emotional one for me. This week, my son, will have his 10th birthday. A whole decade - wow - the time has flown.

His birthday this year is on Thanksgiving. What an incredible gift to have a day meant for gratitude, family time and closeness also be the day we get to celebrate the joy of having him in our lives.

The age of ten for a New York City kid is an intense one. They are still kids, playful and curious, but in this urban world, they are just on the edge of being teenagers. They are pushing for independence and yet asking for closeness. It is a time that is overwhelming for him and for me. I wonder how do we shift into this next decade together. What will it look like?

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I find grounding in gratitude. If I stay in touch with all the reasons I am grateful for him - the way he winks at me, the joy in his belly laugh, his power of observation, the kindness he shows with younger kids, his comedic impersonations - the gratitude keeps me present and enjoying today. And then, once I am there, I have ease in knowing the rest will come as it may, in its own time.

I think this is what we are offering to parents with our work. A time for them to be present and then to look back and enjoy that presence fully. Our videos capture these moments for them so they have them to keep and to hold close.

It’s a beautiful time of year to create a Portraits That Move video, a holiday card, an annual portrait or even if you are celebrating a special occasion.

I am grateful to be able to do the the work we do, for this holiday season and for the gift of getting to be mother to my son. Here’s to the next year and next decade!

Happy Thanksgiving!

xo,

Susannah

Where should I schedule my holiday video card shoot?

We've been asked by some of our clients about the best places to shoot a holiday card video.  Over the years, we have found that the most important thing is for your kids to be comfortable.  After all, our holiday video cards are as much about celebrating the season and the milestones of the year in your family's life as they are about giving your children the opportunity to speak freely and comfortably about how they are feeling and what they are experiencing at this exciting, sometimes frantic, hopefully magical time of year.

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Sometimes that means scheduling our holiday video card shoot outdoors at your favorite park, where we can get the full beauty of the autumn leaves and catch your kids in action running, feeling free, and enjoying a place that is special to them.

Other times, it means scheduling a family video shoot at home, where your kids can show off some of their favorite toys, tell us the stories behind their favorite holiday decorations, and feel totally comfortable in the space you have made for them.

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Wherever you choose to schedule your holiday video card shoot, we will be there to help you celebrate your family, your year, and the unique and beautiful voices of your children.  

That's our kind of holiday magic.

We are all booked up for this weekend, 11/4.  Reserve your spot for Sunday, 11/19 by filling out our registration form or calling us directly: 917-750-0031

Modern Answer to the Snailmail Family Newsletter

Do you remember your mom writing holiday newsletters every year?  Do you remember reading the letters from her college roommates, following the lives of families you may never have met but felt you knew?

Fewer and fewer of those beloved newsletters arrive in the mail, thanks to social media, our busy lives, and the picture-perfect cards that so many of our friends and family seem to favor.

With that, some of the magic has been lost.  We've lost the chance to make a special connection around the holidays, to celebrate along with family and friends, and to share the accomplishments, changes and milestones that make up a year in the life of every family.

Our Portraits that Move team has come up with the answer.  Our Holiday Video Card lets you and your children talk about what happened over the whole year in your own words.

We're using modern ways to recapture traditional experiences of family, love, celebration and connection.  And our clients and their friends and families are loving it.

At the end of the day, the beauty of new technologies are that they offer us new ways to tell our stories.  The Portraits that Move Video Holiday Card is our cool, modern answer to snailmail family newsletter.  It is also a beautiful way to celebrate and remember a year in the life of your family.

Create your Portraits that Move Video Holiday Card

There is no better time to create your family's video holiday card.  The fall weather is gorgeous, and we are sure you have much news to share!  

Schedule your 90 minute holiday video film shoot on one of our two remaining days: Saturday, November 4, or Sunday, November 19.
 

Love and Happiness through Their Eyes

I love documenting our families in the everyday, ordinary paths of their lives. It gives me a clear window into who they are, what is important to them and what makes them happy.

It is even more meaningful then, when we are given an opportunity to document a family for a special celebration. One of our clients, Emily, asked us to document her daughter, Violet as a wedding gift for her best friend. We were thrilled at the idea of this video and the process was joyous from beginning to end.

When I arrived and asked Violet about her aunt, she had so much to tell me. It was clear that she has been deeply loved by her and that their connection is a close one. It was incredible to capture these feelings and to document this moment for Emily’s friend. It is a treasure for her.

The final Portrait Video is exuberant, filled with love and a child’s perspective on marriage. It got me thinking about all of the different types of celebrations we could make videos for and about. What could be better than that?

I hope you enjoy watching Violet talk about love as much I enjoyed asking her about it.