3 Questions to Ask Your Kids to Connect to Nature and Each Other

The weather is beautiful in NYC today! Take a moment when you can (or even when it’s so busy you feel like you can’t) to ask your kids these three questions. They’ll help you connect to the beauty around you, and to each other.

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So power down those screens, and encourage your kids (littles and bigs) to look up, down, and around. They’ll discover the beauty, the simplicity, and the power of the natural world around them. And you are very likely to be reminded of the beauty, simplicity, and power of the children you are raising. It’s all about those small moments that matter, friends, as we head into Earth Day, and EVERY DAY.

Look Up - What shapes do you see in the clouds?

This one never gets old, but how many times do we stop and ask it? Finding shapes in the clouds is the first step to creating and sharing stories. '

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Before you know it, your kids will be scanning the sky for characters to add to their tales. And you will be joining right along with them. Suddenly, the walk home from school, or the trip to run errands won’t have you feeling so sluggish. You, and your kids start to feel energized by the stories you are creating, the world you are discovering, and the nature all around you that provides an endless source of inspiration.

Look Down - How many sprouts do you see?

Have no fear, city moms, this question is just as much for you as it is for our friends in the suburbs and out in the country. Get your kids to look down at the base of trees as they’re walking along the sidewalk. Ask them to peek in people’s front yards (no matter how small), and even the cracks in the concrete.

How many sprouts can your kids see? Are some of them crocus plants, are others grass? Have them guess what is growing, how big it will get, what color it will be.

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Let their imaginations run wild! Is that little weed you see growing between the sidewalk cracks going to grow up to be a tree? If it did, and we climbed it, where would it go, what would we find? How many birds would call it their home?

With a mix of imagination play and nature learning, you will be amazed by how much creativity and joy you awaken - for your kids and for you!

Look Around - How does this street look different today than it did yesterday?

The world around us is always changing, especially during springtime. Try to catch as many of those moments as you can by taking stock of the space around you and recognizing all the little changes that happen in such a short time.

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This exercise is a great way to get conversations going with your kids, and to challenge them, and you, to really LOOK at everything around you. At first, you may not notice that there are more blooms on the tree, or that the petals are starting to give way to summer style leaves, or that the buds have started to turn into flowers. But when you ask about it, and start to look for changes, and talk about what you see, you and your children will realize everything that happens in a day, and just how lucky we are to be able to experience it.

And that, friends, is a moment that matters.







Why Mitzvahs, Why Now?

 I wore a white frilly dress and my grandfather’s tallit (prayer shawl.) My hair was permed and my braces had recently been taken off for the event. I felt strong and filled with pride. I was continuing my family’s tradition and it meant something to me. 

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I remember so clearly what it felt like to stand up in front of my friends and family and tell them about how I wanted to contribute to the world and about how the experience of preparing for the special day had changed my perspective. I felt it then and looking back, I still feel that now.

The decision for us to make Mitzvah Videos at Portraits That Move may seem like a bit of a left turn, since so much of what we do is about capturing the average day in the life of kids and their families. It actually isn’t and here’s why.

To me, life is all about the following truths: family, closeness, celebration, tradition, joy and gratitude. Every day that we create videos for Portraits that Move, I have these truths in mind. Making mitzvah videos allows us to create something that is about all of them at one time.

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Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are celebrations with family. They are filled with joy and tradition.  I see a wonderful opportunity to enrich the experience that a family is having by giving them the chance to document their own feelings about the process. This is super empowering for kids and for parents. The result is something that they have to share with their guests and to look at and remember forever.

The empowerment of going through a mitzvah process cannot be underestimated. It can be a defining moment for a child. We want to be part of that - to document that shift and to celebrate, celebrate, celebrate. Let’s celebrate together.

Window in Time - A Mom's Reflection

Mom Tracy Gary shares her Portraits that Move experience with us today. Thank you, Tracy, for sharing your family, and your thoughts, with us.

Watching our Portraits That Move video years later is like peeking through a window back in time. I see our children everyday and we, of course, have thousands of pictures and even videos but none so intimate, personal and animated as Susannah’s artistry.

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There are none that capture how our daughter took this shoot as serious as a job interview, her sweet, earnest little face intent on being a true professional. And how our son couldn’t be bought, bribed or swindled into giving a straight answer…a lion tamer, bwa ha ha! 

But it was also all the details Susannah captured that remind us of the home we’ve built together, liberally sprinkled with the kids’ creations, lovies and toys.

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That’s all much less now as they’ve transitioned from legos to laptops and mommy and daddy centric beings into people defining who they are outside of us. Susannah also forever captured those unbridled belly laughs and the unadulterated joy a young child gets from a parent’s undivided attention.

It’s, in truth, a little heartbreaking to watch as they’ve grown so much into all together different people. But Susannah’s portrait of our family gives life, color and sound to the tiny, sticky fingerprints those little beings left on my heart on that cold January day. 

Celebrating 5 Moments that Changed Us

Today, we’re recapping our 5 Moments in 5 Days anniversary celebration. It was hard for us to pick only five moments, because all of the moments we have created, documented and celebrated over the last five years have filled us with joy.

Each of the examples that we chose focuses on our mission of documenting the every day moments that matter to families. They demonstrate how we make and honor history, milestones, legacy and new beginnings every day,. This is exactly what families do, no matter their shape, size, or circumstances. We hope that you enjoy reliving these moments as much as we do, and we are grateful that you continue to share and celebrate your moments with us.

When the Little Moments Add up to the Story of Childhood for Two Siblings

We love working with families like this one year after year. This family hired us to create their first video the year Portraits that Move launched, and we have been documenting their lives ever since. What a wonderful way to preserve the moments that make up a family’s history, as those moments unfold.

Here's a look at the first film we created for them

And here is the most recent film..


Much gratitude to this family who keeps us smiling year after year!

Bringing Together Years of Small Moments for one Big Mitzvah Montage

All of these moments make up the stories of our lives. Mitzvahs provide the perfect opportunity to celebrate that life as it is growing and changing.

In this Mitzvah Montage, we take time to look back on these moments, to celebrate them, and to share them with friends and family who come together to support and honor a child during a milestone moment.

Capturing 3 Generations in One Film

What an amazing opportunity it was to create a film that brought the lives of three generations of one family together in celebration and joy.


As filmmakers, when you work with multiple generations of the same family, you are able to see the large and small ways that each individual’s experiences, observations, and personalities come together to create a complete, rich story of a family.

From the great grandparent down to the newest family member, we are able to see how history, tradition and love come together to create a story that is entirely unique to them, and that, at the same time, resonates with us all.

Meeting Baby, Meeting the World

From the eldest generations to the newest, we delight in bringing moments to life on film. Our Baby Videos are precious, especially when we are able to captured firsts - like baby’s first time touching snow - on video. So much more than a set of infant or baby photos, these moving portraits give us the sights and sounds of a baby. And they allow parents to talk about what it is like in those first few months in an honest, open, and joyful way.


It is often said because it is so true, time moves more quickly than we can imagine. And as much as we are convinced we will remember every detail of our baby’s first months and years, we don’t. They are gone in a flash, and it is so gratifying to have something to look back on to remember exactly how it looked, how it felt, what it sounded like when there was a new baby in your home.

Celebrating Healing

One of the most profoundly gratifying and joyful experiences we have is creating videos for our Portraits that Heal project. In these videos, we honor and celebrate the lives of children who live with chronic, life threatening illnesses.


In addition to demonstrating the resiliency, tenacity, and hope that these children and their families embody every day, our Portraits that Heal videos also remind us, and those who watch them, about the beauty, simplicity and joy of living every day. We are inspired and amazed by these children and we are deeply honored to be able to preserve their lives and their words on film..

Share Your Joy with Us

Contact Portraits that Move to book a video celebrating your family’s daily life, and the history you are making.

3 Things for Busy Moms to Do this Spring

Spring is almost here, in spite of the chill in the air here in NYC. So we’re sharing a new approach to Spring Cleaning, tailored for busy moms like us.

This spring, we’re finding ways of celebrating the every day, because “every moment matters” is more than how we describe our work, it is how we live our lives.

Stop asking "how was your day"

Avoid this question if you really want answers!

To really connect with your kids, and to get the conversation going, try some of our tips from the start of the school year.

Are these strategies working for you? What are you doing to start quality conversations with your kids? And how are you finding the time?

Choose one simple way to connect with your kids

You don’t have to be Mary Poppins to create special moments for your kids. And you don’t have to plan elaborate vacations or custom play spaces to enjoy some time together.

In fact, even small interactions like cooking a meal together, sitting around the table (it doesn’t have to be a holiday!), watching their favorite TV show with them, or listening to them describe something that they love - a hobby, sport, art project or video game) - can go a long way.

Take some time for self-care

Remember the advice they give on planes to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others when things get hectic.

Photo by  Becca Tapert  on  Unsplash

The spring season is often full of family events and major milestones (Mitzvahs, graduations, weddings). In all that excitement, and during all that preparation, the small moments that matter can get lost, especially if you’re not finding little ways to remind yourself that you matter. Practice self-care when you’re busy, not just when you feel like you have the space to carve out “me time.”

5 Things We Love about Portraits that Move

It’s our 5th Anniversary and we’re celebrating all week. Follow along and share your memories on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter this week as we celebrate 5 Small Moments that Mean the World to us. We’ll be highlighting one moment every day, from Tuesday through Saturday. We hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane as much as we do.

Today, we kick off our week of celebration with 5 Things we love about Portraits that Move!

1. Celebrating Your Everyday Moments

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For these past five years, we have lived by the mantra "every moment matters" and we are so happy to reflect that back to families through our Portrait Videos, Mitzvah Videos and annual holiday cards.

2. Listening to Kids’ Stories

What a thrill it is for us to work with families year after year and document families as they grow, and giving children a place to share their observations as their perspectives and interests change.

3. Being Part of Your Milestone Moments

It means so much to us when you include us in your milestone family moments like Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. Creating our Mitzvah Movies and Mitzvah Montages gives us the opportunity to allow young people to share their stories and talk about what matters to them at a beautiful moment of growth and transformation.

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The fact that we are able to be such an important part of your celebrations means the world to us, and we celebrate right along with every Mitzvah family that chooses Portraits that Move.

4. Creating Something that Stands the Test of Time

The days are short but the years are long, and we all need something to hold onto that reflects the character - the beauty, the joy, and the simplicity - of life's moments.

This is what we get to do, what we get to create for you, every day, year after year. No wonder we feel like celebrating!

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5. Using Our Talents and Passion to Spread Healing and Happiness

First and foremost, we are storytellers, and we are so pleased to tell your stories on film. All of the awards do not compare to the notes we receive from parents, and the smiles we capture on film.

Thank you for five wonderful years. We are so very excited for many, many more!

Our Anniversary Gift to You

Join in on the anniversary fun with a special 15% off a Signature Portrait, Mitzvah Montage, or Mitzvah Movie when you contact us and book by Saturday, 3/2, at 10:00 p.m. EST.

Long Island Mom Finds Beauty in the Small Moments

Long Island mom Lauren Grinman shares how her Portraits that Move experience changed the way she looks at everyday moments with her children.

We love working with Lauren’s beautiful, energetic, adorable family and are so glad she is sharing her Signature Portrait story with us today.

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What were your expectations for the Portraits that Move film shoot? How did the experience compare to your expectations?

I couldn't wait to see how this type of video would be created. In watching a few of them previous to doing ours, I was intrigued by how relaxed and natural all of the families were in their videos.

The experience of making it was just that. The way they filmed us and interviewed the kids was so comfortable. Susannah and her team also have very warm and charismatic personalities which immediately put us and our children at ease. We all truly enjoyed the process so much.

After watching the video, what struck you the most?

I was awed by how beautifully edited the video was. They had gotten a lot of footage I am sure, but they were so able to pick up the most beautiful actions and words of our children.

Like our son taking steps after he had just started walking, or his expression while spinning a helicopter… they truly captured the essence of our children at each of their special ages.

Did anything surprise you?

The way they also captured our sons playing, not just the interviews, was so beautiful to watch. Seeing the joy on their faces as they jumped on the bed together, or ran through the hallway, simple things that you don't always get to slow down and appreciate their expressions.

Has the experience of filming and watching your Portraits that Move video affected how you look at everyday moments or how you think about celebrating or honoring the passage of time?

It has affected me, a room with toys scattered on the floor, or a thousand crayons on the floor as they draw. I have tried to slow down and watch them almost imagining it was part of one of the videos.

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It has helped me appreciate the moment more, rather than thinking about cleaning up, and moving onto the next part of our day. I am enjoying each stage they are at more.

What is your favorite part of your Portraits that Move film?

How beautifully they captured the true essence of our family. Each personality of our children truly shined bright in the films we have created. These films are such gems to us now. Preserving the voices, smiles, and sweetness of each age of our children.

Learn more about the Signature Portrait from Portraits that Move.

Mitzvah Montage Review from NY Mom

New York mom Stacey Leibowitz just celebrated her daughter Charlotte’s Bat Mitzvah. The party, planned by Partow Events and held at Brooklyn’s 26Bridge, included a Mitzvah Montage from Portraits that Move.

Stacey says “I cherish the montage for a moving snapshot of our lives with our daughter to this point. It captures her with her most important relationships – friends, family, camp life, dance – all the things that matter most to her.”

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We couldn’t be happier to hear this! We chatted with Stacey about the Mitzvah Montage process, and what the experience was like for her an her family. Here’s what she had to say.

What were your expectations for the Mitzvah Montage creation process? How did the experience compare to your expectations?

I was amazed at how easy the process with Susannah was. The hardest part was culling down photos and getting my 13 year old to agree to which photos we were ‘allowed’ to use!

In one 45 minute call, Susannah engaged me and my daughter, asked her thoughtful questions and started to frame an approach to the video. We were able to complete the process after two reviews, during which Susannah was supportive and had great suggestions. The second and final version took our suggestions and made them even better. Her editor is fantastic.

After watching the montage, what struck you the most? 

In 5 minutes, Susannah encapsulated the joy that our daughter has within her and that joy that she shares with her family and friends.

She was able to take my daughter’s choice of music and made it flow and really align to the moment in the photos.

What was the reaction at the Mitzvah celebration?

The video was the perfect length. There was laughter, lots of oohs and aahs, and many tears. A perfect reaction!

Have people shared the montage since the event?

It is wonderful to have the link to share. We did not share it broadly, but sent to family after the bat mitzvah. It allowed them to savor the moments that they may have missed in a large event space and made it a more intimate experience. I’m sure the Grandmas have watched it over and over!

To plan your Mitzvah Montage, contact us.

Portraits that Move: A Review from a Philadelphia Mom

A few weeks ago we got to make a Signature Portrait Film for a Philadelphia family. After she received her video, we connected with mom Elisa to talk about what the Portraits that Move filmmaking process was like and what she thought about her video - including what surprised her most.

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What were your expectations for the Portraits that Move film shoot? How did the experience compare to your expectations?

I knew, based on the extraordinary qualifications of the filmmakers, that the shoot would be smooth and the final product beautiful. But I didn't realize how fun the process would be for our family.

My son loved answering the interview questions and we learned some things about him that we never knew. They allowed him to play and show them the activities he loves, so he got to lead the way in many respects, which was empowering for him.

The team was respectful, easy to work with and made the whole day a pleasant experience.

After watching the video, what struck you the most?

I was struck by just how, even in the few weeks since shooting, my son had grown and changed, which made it all the more valuable to have this document of him that goes much deeper than an impromptu phone movie.

Parenting is a state of constant change and you often wish you could stop time—Portraits that Move allows you to do that.

Did anything in the video/any reaction you had to watching the video surprise you?

It was like watching our home and family from our son's perspective which was very moving and sweet.

Has the experience of filming and watching your Portraits that Move video affected how you look at everyday moments?

Yes—I think most families would be thrilled to have a video like this, which captures the personality of your child and the aspects that make your family unique.

What is your favorite part of your Portraits that Move film?

All of it!

2019 Word of the Year - Celebrate!

Do you choose a word of the year every new year? We are big fans of this practice. It helps us focus on a guiding principle that leads to our goals and reminds us to stay grounded in what matters as we start the new year.

Looking at all the opportunities and adventures that lie ahead in 2019, we know that this year at Portraits that Move, what we want to do most, is celebrate!

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Celebrate Moments

Every moment matters, and every moment is worth celebrating. We don't know how many years we get in this life, or what may come our way. What we do know is that every year, and every day, is made up of moments small and large that connect us to each other, that are filled with joy, that remind us of gratitude.

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This year will be filled with moments that make us smile and moments that lead to discoveries, for our children and for ourselves. We’ll have unexpected moments with our children that we look back on and realize were some of the most treasured experiences of our lives, even if those moments are small and simple.

All of this is worth celebrating. It's why we create our films for families, so that the can see and celebrate who they are right now. And so they have something to look back on to celebrate how they became who they are.

Celebrate Milestones

There is nothing like a milestone to ignite celebration, and the joy that parents feel watching their children grow, change, and thrive in the world. That's one of the reasons we love creating Mitzvah videos for families.

Our Mitzvah videos allow families to add a truly special element to a milestone day filled with joy, enthusiasm, and not a small amount of nostalgia (how often we hear from Mitzvah moms and dads that they can't believe how fast the time goes!).

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The thing about celebrating is that it is so much more than the exuberance of a party, just like your child's Bar/Bat Mitzvah is about so much more than all of the perfect party details and exciting extras you have planned for your child and their friends. To truly celebrate our families, ourselves, our lives, is to look at life in all of its dimensions, the small moments and the milestone moments, and to realize how grateful we are for the life we have, for the joy and the challenges that fill our days.

Because time really does go too fast, and if we don't stop to celebrate who we are, where we have been, and where we are going, we will have missed out on the chance to celebrate how sweet and beautiful all of this is.

Celebrate Every Day

Clients, friends, family, that's our wish for you this new year. Find a way to celebrate each other, to celebrate with each other, every day.

We guarantee you will have better days because of it. And we can't wait to celebrate them with you!

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.