Teach Kids Gratitude during the Holidays

Teaching kids gratitude during the holiday season can be a challenge. Sometimes it feels like we spend all of our energy on creating memorable holiday experiences, decorating things just-so, and finding the right gift (a few times over) for our favorite people. Then, as the season draws to a close, we realize that there is a lot of giving but not a lot of gratitude.

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But it’s about more than gifts. As parents, we don’t need our kids to bend over backwards telling us how grateful they are for the things we give them. What we really want - the reason we jump headlong into the holiday craziness and wait on hours-long lines - is to make memories that our children will cherish. To start and continue traditions that make them happy, that remind them, and us, of how grateful we are to have each other.

We’ve gathered a few of our favorite posts to help you teach your kids about gratitude this season, and to keep the grateful vibes well into the new year.

Start a Daily Gratitude Practice with your Kids

I try to use gratitude in my home as a regular on-going conversation with my son.  When we focus on gratitude, it can create good feeling and closeness. Sometimes I will ask my son during dinner what happened in his day that made him feel grateful.

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Other times as I am tucking him into bed, I will tell him the 5 things about my day that I am grateful for and ask him about his.

There are a lot of other ways to introduce gratitude into a conversation, to make it into a game and to keep it present.  I find that talking about what we are grateful for shifts things.  It makes the mood more positive, lighter and gentler

Introduce Gratitude Games and Table Activities

I’m thinking of something that begins with the letter…

We all know the popular road trip game, where you work your way through the alphabet, guessing something that begins with each letter of the alphabet while the person who is “it” provides clues to the guessers.

Customize this game for your table. Take turns going clockwise around the table (or starting youngest to oldest). The first person who is “it” says “I’m grateful for something that begins with the letter A.” Each person around the table guesses what that is based on hints.

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This is a fun, easy, and interactive way to share what you are thankful for. It is also a natural way to start a conversation around gratitude, and to teach you what little things matter to your loved ones.

Turn Your New Year’s Resolutions into Gratitude Intentions

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. 

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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

How are you practicing gratitude with your kids during the holiday season? Share with us on Facebook!




Holiday Gift Guide 2018

We are so excited to share our first ever Portraits that Move Holiday Gift Guide! To celebrate the season, we have put together a list of gifts that reflect the beauty and joy of documenting family life and the small moments that make it so special.

We are featuring these products because we love how they connect with what is important to us and we think that you will, too. None of these products have paid for placement on our site, and we do not receive any compensation for linking to third party products.

Grandparent and Grandchild Keepsake Letter Book Set

 Image via  Uncommon Goods

Image via Uncommon Goods

Created by Knoxville, Tennessee based artist Whitney Biggs, this letter book set gives children and grandparents the chance to connect with each other through storytelling.

Using storytelling to connect across generations is something we love! It’s part of what inspired us to create our Generations Videos, and it is just the kind of thing that keeps the magic of the holidays going well beyond the end of the season.

Letters to My Future Self

 Image via  Amazon

Image via Amazon

Document your own story through letter writing with the Letters to My Future Self kit. This is a wonderful gift for a friend or family member who loves to write, to document, and to build their own story.

Conversations with My Father and Mother

 Image via  Uncommon Goods

Image via Uncommon Goods

These lovely books are a perfect place for your family to write down the conversations that make up the history of our lives. We are huge believers in the power of conversation, especially conversations with kids, in documenting family life and preserving our memories for ourselves and for future generations.

Comic Book Pop Art from Photos

 Image via  MyDaVinci

Image via MyDaVinci

Give your loved ones a totally unique gift, in the style of Roy Lichtenstein pop art from MyDaVinci. Submit your photo and they create a pop art version of the image for display in your home. You can choose from a variety of size and framing options, and you can even add a talk bubble!

Illustory

 Image via  Amazon

Image via Amazon

Give kids the chance to tell their story in their own words inside a book they design and create themselves. This is a gift many times over, from an activity to keep kids entertained over holiday break, to a keepsake that your family will enjoy for years to come.

In our experience creating videos for families, you are guaranteed for a treat when you give kids the chance - and the space - to share their stories in any form.

Custom Family Video

Give your loved ones the gift of a Portraits that Move Gift Card. Available in any denomination, up to the full price of a Signature Portrait Video, our gift card makes it easier for families to get their own custom heirloom quality video that documents the treasured moments of their lives right now.


Kid Quotes Memory Book

 Image via  Uncommon Goods

Image via Uncommon Goods

Oh, the things kids say! Write down the funniest and most poignant quotes from your kids in the new year in this adorable Kid Quotes Memory Book created by Colorado-based graphic designer Amy Taylor.

We love celebrating the things kids say, and we know better than anyone that you absolutely will forget what you don’t document. This is the perfect gift for yourself or for another parent who will appreciate a place to store their kids’ comments, from the whimsical, to the witty, to the wise.

My Family Cookbook

 Image via  Uncommon Goods

Image via Uncommon Goods

Preserve your family’s precious recipes - and the memories that go along with them - in My Family Cookbook. This book give you a place to gather all your favorite recipes, along with the photos and stories that go with them.

Invite family members to contribute, or use it as a chance to gather your family and work on creating the cookbook together. This is the perfect gift for new couples, or for young adults heading off to college or starting out in new cities.

Mixtiles

 Image via  Mixtiles

Image via Mixtiles

We love this affordable way to turn your family photos into gallery walls! This is a great project to enjoy putting together as a family. Involve your kids in choosing the photos to print and in creating the gallery wall in your home.

Tiles can be moved around easily so it’s a fun, interactive way to tell your family’s story through photography you create.

Parenting Misadventures Journal

 Image via  Uncommon Goods

Image via Uncommon Goods

Know a new mom or dad with a good sense of humor about the parenting journey? This book is for them!

Write down everything from the crazy advice you got before baby arrived to the epic tantrums in Target because, believe it or not, you don’t want to forget those moments either. It’s all part of your history, and it will make you laugh… eventually.

Rememory Game

 Image via  Uncommon Goods .

Image via Uncommon Goods.

This holiday gift combines two things we love - family games and family memories. The Rememory Game is a fun way to recall family stories and memories and to introduce the next generation to your family’s treasured stories and moments.

Giving Tuesday is a Day to Share Love and Gratitude

Today and every day, we are aware of the importance of giving in order to create moments of joy for others. This year, we compiled a list of non-profits that are giving beautiful gifts to individuals and communities through hard work and dedication.

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Non-profits like these benefit from your generosity, and so do those they serve. Take a moment today to look at some of the work they are doing. We invite you to be inspired by the joy and healing they put out into the world.

Make a Wish Foundation

The Make a Wish Foundation is dear to the heart of our founder and executive producer, Susannah Ludwig, and the company that she created. Susannah’s early life was marked by multiple life saving surgeries.

This helped her to realize that every day is a gift and there is joy even in the smallest moments. The Make a Wish Foundation believes that “one moment changes everything.” The foundation helps to make wishes come true for children with critical illnesses, making treasured moments for children and their families.

Kids in Need Foundation

As a Board Member of Kids the Kids in Need Foundation, Susannah gets to see first hand the good work that this organization does in communities around the United States.

Kids in Need provides backpacks and school supplies for students living in poverty so that they are able to go to school confident and ready to learn. As Susannah shares, “it makes a huge difference for kids… you can see how having their own school supplies, something that may seem so small, improves their self esteem.”

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

Through Portraits that Heal, we have helped Alex’s Lemonade Stand share its mission to cure childhood cancer by sharing the stories of children the organization has helped.

Alex’s Lemonade stand, founded by parents who lost their daughter to cancer, supports funding for fighting childhood cancer by raising money for scientific research and by helping families who are living with cancer.

See more of Kaela’s Hero Story, created by Portraits that Heal.

Feeding Matters

Feeding Matters is committed to helping kids who have trouble eating. In addition to connecting to Susannah’s childhood surgeries and related challenges, the mission of helping children be nourished so they can thrive is an inspiring and important mission.

The organization “furthers advances in pediatric feeding disorder by accelerating identification, igniting research, and promoting collaborative care for children and families.” The work they do is not always recognized on a large national stage but it makes a tremendous impact on the children and families whose lives they change.



Manna

Manna, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is more than a food bank. The organization promotes therapeutic nutrition, working hard to connect those in need with healthy food. As the organization explains, Manna “uses nutrition to improve health for people with serious illnesses who need nourishment to heal.” The Manna team does this by providing medically tailored meals and nutrition education… to improve their health and quality of life.”

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Portraits that Move remembers Manna in a special way this Giving Tuesday. Founder Susannah Ludwig’s aunt, who passed away just before Thanksgiving, was a deeply involved volunteer with Manna. We encourage those who are moved to support the organization to do so in her memory.

Brooklyn Public Library

Libraries always need funding! The contributions they make to our local communities is incredible, though often unsung. From literacy programs for kids to job resources for adults, the Brooklyn Public Library is both a cultural center and a center of service for our communities.

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How many small, special moments have you created with your kids in your neighborhood library? Help them keep making moments like these for our kids and our neighbors.

Arthur Project

The Arthur Project helps underserved middle school students. Providing mentoring to students at this critical juncture in their lives can help to transform their experience and put them on the path to health, safety, and success, as it did for the organization’s co-founder in her own life.

Susannah recently worked with Snapdragon Films to create a video for the Arthur Project and has been inspired by the work the organization does. The Arthur Project is a new non-profit tackling challenges in new and engaging ways.

Celebrate the Season with Portraits that Move

We’re celebrating YOU and making it easier than ever to share the Portraits that Move experience with your friends and family.

Special Offer Black Friday through Cyber Monday

Celebrate the season with savings from Portraits that Move. Purchase a $500 gift card for $200 starting Black Friday, through Small Business Saturday, all the way to Cyber Monday!

Purchase a gift card for yourself or as a gift for others now through Monday, 11/26, at 11:59 p.m. EST. Use promo code CELEBRATE at checkout or call directly: 917-750-0031.

Happy gifting!


Thanksgiving Conversation Starters

We are big fans of Thanksgiving at Portraits that Move because it brings together our favorite things - family and gratitude (and food!).

There is nothing like gathering together around a table to share stories and relish in the small moments that make our lives, especially our family lives, rich and memorable. But, as natural as it is to have conversations with our loved ones, the conversation doesn’t always flow naturally.

Thanksgiving Conversation Starters.png

Don’t worry. We’re here to help you get the conversation started and keep it going this year at your Thanksgiving table. Try these tips for a fun, stress-free Thanksgiving for families of all ages and sizes. Our conversation starters and Thanksgiving table games are guaranteed to bring joy to your table, and to teach you things about your family that you never knew.

Make the Alphabet Game the Gratitude Game

I’m thinking of something that begins with the letter…

We all know the popular road trip game, where you work your way through the alphabet, guessing something that begins with each letter of the alphabet while the person who is “it” provides clues to the guessers.

Customize this game for your Thanksgiving table. Take turns going clockwise around the table (or starting youngest to oldest). The first person who is “it” says “I’m grateful for something that begins with the letter A.” Each person around the table guesses what that is based on hints.

This is a fun, easy, and interactive way to share what you are thankful for. It is also a natural way to start a conversation around gratitude, and to teach you what little things matter to your loved ones.

Popsicle Stick Conversation Starters

Craft stick conversation starters are one of our favorites! We have a complete DIY guide to creating these fun, reusable conversation starters that are perfect for Thanksgiving table games and throughout the year.

DIY Popsicle Stick Conversation Starters for Kids and Tweens
What you need:
2 mason jars
1 pack of large craft sticks
markers (we chose brightly colored and metallic Sharpies to make it extra fun)
a list of creative questions for kids

diy conversation starters for kids mason jar craft stick.JPG

See more suggestions and tips for creating your own craft stick conversation starters. For Thanksgiving, you can customize the colors, add festive stickers and coordinate your sticks to go with your table and decor themes. It’s a great way to get the kids involved in holiday prep and to keep their hands busy while you are finishing up your last minute cooking and decorating!

Favorite Things and Follow-Ups

After everyone is seated at the table, instruct them to put their place cards in a hat (or a pumpkin, cornucopia or Thanksgiving themed cup!). The person at the head of the table pulls out one name at a time and asks that person to name one of their favorite things.

After that person shares a favorite thing, encourage everyone else around the table to ask questions about it so they can learn more. Questions can include “has that always been one of your favorites?” “What makes you like that so much…”

Other favorite things follow-ups should include things like “That’s a great book! When I was your age, my favorite book was…”

This is an easy way to learn more about each other. Favorites and follow-ups is a particularly good game if you have tweens and teens at your table who want to share but don’t always know how, and who sometimes feel too on the spot when they are barraged with questions. The key to getting kids to talk honestly and openly is to create space in which they feel comfortable, rather than exposed.

Cheers to comfortable spaces, laughter around tables, and conversations that create memories well beyond the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Top Parent Questions and Answers about Family Video Making

We’ve rounded up some of the questions that parents ask about Portraits that Move film shoots, and collected them here to help give you a feel for what the filming experience is like for kids and parents.

Here, we walk you through how to prepare, what to wear, and what kinds of questions we ask to help kids share their stories. See more on how to work with Portraits that Move and explore our complete Frequently Asked Questions list from parents like you.

How to Prepare and What to Wear for a Film Shoot with Portraits that Move

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To kick off holiday card video season, we assembled this list of tips that includes colors that stand out on film, setting the stage at home, and the most important thing to remember heading in to a family film shoot.

Location, Location, Location

Parents often want to know about scouting locations for their family film shoot with Portraits that Move. From capturing the ideal location for holiday video cards to choosing the right place to document your Bar Mitzvah video or Portrait video, we offer simple guidelines for choosing and creating spaces to document your family story.

Is My Child too Shy to Appear on Camera?

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Our professional filmmakers have seen it all, and a little shyness will not prevent your family from getting the quality family video you deserve. Here, we walk through some of the steps we take to help kids feel comfortable to share their worlds with us - and with you - on film. It’s all about creating a safe, inviting, and creative space to document life. That’s what we do best!

Peek at the Process

Take a behind the scenes peek at our process as we share some of the questions we ask that get kids talking, and some of their adorable - and insightful - answers!


How to Prepare for Holiday Card Shoots

You want your holiday card to be perfect. You want it to celebrate and document your year together as a family, and to share your excitement about each other, and the coming year, with the ones you love.

These are great things to want. But they can put some pressure on you when it comes time to rally the family for your holiday card shoot. We suggest you make things as simple as possible. This keeps the holiday card experience stress free for you, and it helps to create an authentic, beautiful portrait of your family as it is right now.

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With that in mind, here are our three basic tips to prepare for your holiday card shoot this year.

1. Pick Colors that Look Good on You and in the Card

Certain colors work better on film and video than others, not because they are on trend, but because they work best with light to bring out your natural beauty.

When it comes to colors, choose colors that you like, that you are comfortable in, and that are bold enough to appear on camera the way they appear to the eye in natural light.

2. Get Everything Ready the Night Before the Shoot

Just like one of our favorite Back to School tips, make sure that everything you need for your holiday card is laid out the night before the shoot. Once you have agreed on what to wear, make sure that you have it ready to go.

Not only does this save time, it frees up your energy on the day of your holiday card video shoot. What is most important for us - and for you - is that we create a holiday card that is as authentically you as it is aesthetically pleasing. Anything and everything you can do to limit stress and keep from feeling rushed heading into the shoot, helps to create the holiday card you want.

3. Go Easy on the Staging

Clearing out space for your thoughts and your feelings to come through is more important than clearing every surface in your house. Some of our clients ask about how they should stage their home for holiday card shoots and other Portraits that Move video shoots. Our recommendation is always the same. We want to document you and your family in your space in a natural way. There is no need to transform your space to look like the cover photo of Architectural Digest if that is not your family’s aesthetic, or your home's natural state.

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Use the time that you would have spent meticulously staging your space to have a brief conversation with your family about high points of the year, what you are grateful for, and how you feel about your friends and family. This opens up the channels of gratitude and puts you in the mindset you need to create a heart warming, honest holiday card.

Special School Day Offer!

For all of our New York City friends who are off from school on Monday, 11/12, we are offering $50 off the price of a holiday card video if you schedule your shoot for that day. We have limited spaces available. Please contact us right away to schedule your shoot: suzlud@gmail.com or (917) 750-0031

Holiday Card Video: November and December Bookings

We do have a few shoot dates still available for your holiday card video shoots. Please contact us to schedule.

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Halloween Treat

Happy Halloween!

Enjoy all the moments today with your children. Listen to their stories. Revel in their imaginations. And share their joy.

This Halloween we have a special treat for you. Book a holiday card video shoot in NYC for 11/12 (a perfect thing to do with kids on the day off from school!) and save $50.

No trick. All treat!

With delight,

Susannah and the Portraits that Move Team

How Can I Make Holiday Cards Easy this Year?

Is is just us or is 2018 flying by on the wings of To Do Lists?!?

If it’s not one thing, it’s the next, with careers, kids, families, projects, obligations, challenges (we see you, parental burnout). The holiday season is coming up fast, and, if you feel like that brings with it another competing To Do List, you are not alone.

easy holiday cards

Now is the time of year when you start looking at every photo from summer vacation, fall break, back to school, and last Tuesday, with that critical eye, thinking…

“We should do a holiday card collage!”

“Let’s combine our own photos with professional holiday card photos!!”

“Look, we can add a photo ornament to our holiday card!!!”

“How much are stamps?”

After days of planning, you realize you spent all your energy trying to imprint something and all your time packaging it. You have no time to enjoy the cards or the moments they’re supposed to capture. The holiday card that you painstakingly designed, packaged and sent is another item checked off your list. And there are so many more items stacking up.

You gave yourself more work and less joy. Your holiday card didn’t preserve a moment from this busy year. It didn’t give you a real sense of who your kids are right now - who they became over the past year.

Try Something New this Holiday Card Season

Carve out a few hours, invite us to your home or a favorite neighborhood spot. We’ll talk with you and your kids. We’ll slow down time for a little while, and in the end, you will have the perfect, moving holiday card video.

holiday card video

No stress, no stamps. Ready to share with friends and family, and with each other, when you just need a minute to count your blessings and see how great your life really is (buys-ness and all).

Schedule your holiday card video shoot or contact us with questions: 917-750-0031.

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.

parents camp memories

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.

parenting lessons camp

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.

family photographer portraits that move documentary video

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)!