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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Eames, February 2018

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

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

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

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

He felt like a star.

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

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

- Michael Buckley, Portraits that Move Dad

Parent Challenge: Reactivate and Celebrate Imagination

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Elizabeth Eames, November 2016

My Best Gift Ever: Time Capsule for a Grandmother

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Our Children Stop Needing Us, What Happens to Our Connection?

I have been lucky to have had Elizabeth Eames as part of the Portraits that Move family for the last couple years. Liz has helped me to clarify and  communicate my vision for the company with leadership and with love. We recently had a touching conversation about the bittersweet feelings that accompany our children growing older. I encouraged Liz to write her thoughts and feelings. The result is the beautiful blog post below. I am grateful for her contribution, I hope you will feel the same.

My daughter is six years old and up to this point, time has been marked by milestones that help her to need me less.  Before we head into the Big Kid Years and careen into the tweens and teens, we look at the passing of time as the gaining of independence, and the ease that comes with it.  I eagerly awaited the new things that we could do together - our conversations, the opportunity for me to hear her observations, her own stories.  I couldn’t wait for the day I could take her by the hand and walk to the subway, the two of us heading off on an adventure together.  No diaper bag, no stroller, no extras toys to keep her occupied.

The summer my daughter was an infant, I looked forward to the next year, when she would be running around in the sand.  The summer she was a toddler, I looked forward to next year, when I wouldn't have to pack diapers or plan around naps.

There were days, early on, that I admit to feeling a sense of relief when veteran moms told me how quickly time passes.  Sometimes, we lose sight of the short years when we feel trapped in the long days.

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But something happened this summer.  While she was swimming farther and farther away and I was standing, watching.  Something happened when she was snuggled up next to me listening while I was reading.

Six years old.  This feels like a tipping point.  The changes time is bringing aren’t so much making it easier for us to be together, easier for us to get through our day – our shared day – as they are giving her the chance to make each day, each experience more her own.  And that is exciting.  And it is humbling.  It feels, now, like we are not only gaining with time, we are losing.  Losing the need for constant attention, losing the need for help with little things.  All those little things that connected us.  That kept us close together, in our space and in our hearts.

Next summer, she won’t need me to read her The House at Pooh Corner, the funny book with all those Chapters.  The book that launched her into hours of playtime, and inspired her to get lost in her imagination.  Will she want me to read to her?  Will she ask me to, if she does?  Will she invite me into her imagination?  Will she allow herself to spend enough time there?

In our rush to achieve, in our desire to look ahead to the next milestones, the easier day that’s around the corner, are we forgetting the joy of the journey?  Are we hurrying to a time when we remember the past fondly, forgetting that so much of that past was spent looking to the future?

I want to remember these moments, the summer of independence that we shared.  The start of a school year that I know is pulling her away from me and towards herself and all that knowledge and friendship and imagination will help her to uncover about the world. 

I want to be present, to be present for what is, right now, for her and for me and for us.  And as we look ahead and dream together, and look back and remember, I want to find - and to honor - what connects us.  Maybe that connection is need.  The need to love and be loved, the need to find and share joy, the need to embrace the life and the time we have been given.  And to celebrate it, together.

- Elizabeth Eames, September 2016

"I Wish I Had a Library of Videos Like These" - A Portraits that Move Mom on Her Video Celebrating 4 Generations

We sat down with mom of two Michelle Roos to talk about the portrait video we made in honor of her grandfather's 100th birthday, celebrated this year on Passover.  Since we delivered her family video just two days ago, Michelle and her mom have already watched it twenty times, and have eagerly shared it with their loved ones and friends.

Michelle talks about joy, love, loss, legacy and pride as she describes why this video, and the Portraits that Move filming process, was such a moving experience for her.  Thank you, Michelle, for sharing your family and your story with us. 

What struck you most when you first watched the video? 

The video captured my grandfather's personality perfectly.  He's just the happiest guy in the world - and that comes across beautifully in the video.

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How did the Portraits that Move filming experience compare to your expectations?

We all had so much fun during the filming.  It brought out the best in the kids and our whole family.  We felt very special and cared for and so grateful. 

How important to you was it that the video documented the family celebrating not only your grandfather's 100th birthday, but also celebrating Passover together?

I wanted to capture thus magical moment where my Grandpa's 100th birthday, Passover, and my kids' full blown love of Judaism and family, were all colliding - and you got all of those elements in the video. 

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What about the experience (from filming to watching the final portrait video) stands out to you the most?

My mom and I have watched the film 20 times each at this point.  We laugh and cry and feel proud of my kids and so, so grateful for my grandpa and his love of life.  We've had a bittersweet 10 years as a family.  My grandparents aged a lot, my dad was diagnosed with early on-set dementia and after 9 years, died.  I met my husband and had two beautiful boys, my mom got and recovered from cancer... and we're just all getting back on our feet. 

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I wish I had a library of videos like these - of my dad when he was well, of my grandma when she was well, of the boys in all of their precious and fleeting stages of development.. it's so special to have this moment captured - thank you!

My Portraits that Move Experience By Elena Berger

I didn’t know what to expect when Susannah approached me about shooting a video of Charlie with Portraits That Move.  She had just launched and explained that she wanted to capture kids in their own environment, comfortable and being themselves. I knew Susannah’s extraordinary film work and knew that it would be special, but I didn’t expect it to have this level of kvell

It’s shot so beautifully and edited so well.  It brings so much joy every time we watch it.  The grandmothers?  Forget about it.  My mom calls it an “absolute treasure”.  My mother-in-law called it “spectacular” and that the added shot of outrageous little brother Hank was “brilliant."

I had Charlie and Hank re-watch it now that some time has passed.  Both would have been happy if I put it on a loop for the rest of the day.  Charlie couldn’t remember the things he had originally said and giggled the whole way through. Hank just shouted “I LOVE that video!”.  My husband considers it one of the most beautifully crafted memories of our children. 

Photos are great and videos are fabulous, but having a Portraits that Move film is a gift that brings smiles to everyone in the family over and over again.  It means so much to have this moment of my boys to cherish.  Everyone says that this time goes so quickly, appreciate it while it’s here.  Having our Charlie video truly makes that statement real. The boys have matured a bit since the video was shot but I’ll have their deliciousness in a beautifully crafted little film forever. 

 

The Perfect Holiday Gift - A Parent's Story

My husband travels all the time for work. And my parents and in-laws live far away.  Portraits That Move allowed me to finally get all of them what they really wanted for Christmas:  more time with my children.

We shot the first video a few weeks before Christmas last year.  I didn’t let anyone in the family see one of the website’s sample finished products so no one was really sure what they were doing.  Nevertheless the kids had a great time with Susannah and Rafe, who both made them feel special and managed to capture them perfectly.   They were in our house for just a couple of hours, chatting with the children and watching them go about their day. We also spent time outdoors at a nearby soccer field.  I’m sure the neighbors were surprised to see a small video crew following us to the park!

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The finished product arrived just before St. Nick, on Christmas Eve before everyone went to bed.  All the stars aligned and I was able to get the Apple TV to work so that the whole family could watch their Christmas present. And it was beautiful. The video was amazing and everyone sniffled with joy.

But the joy didn’t end there.  Everyone has continued to watch the video throughout the year.  My parents admit to firing it up when they feel far away in Florida. And my husband keeps it at the bottom of his email. At night in his hotel rooms, when he’s working though the last emails of the day, he rewards himself with a view of the video. He watches it almost every night when he’s on the road.

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With such success, there could be no question that we had to do another video this year.  Susannah and Rafe came back to our house, having prepped by re-watching last year’s video.  They came with new questions and new ideas about how to best reflect our household. And again they were fun and warm and the kids had a great time.  I’m certain that this year’s video will also be a delight.  And I can’t wait for Christmas eve.

Brooklyn Author Mallory Kasdan: Our Kids Teach Us About Beauty, Kindness and Community

We are thrilled to have Mallory Kasdan, Brooklyn mom and author of the popular (and hilarious!) children's book Ella, join us today as a Portraits that Move guest blogger.

Mallory's post, which first appeared on her blog, shows how our children teach us curiosity, joy, gratitude and friendship every day, just by being who they are.

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