Lucky Summer

I wonder if it’s because the moments in summer tend to be a bit longer, that we want to hold onto them even more. The rush to get out the door slows down. If we’re lucky enough to get some time off with our families, the destination becomes the beach, the pool, or a treasured family home, rather than work and school.

Photo E Eames

Photo E Eames

The days are longer and brighter this time of year. And it seems as if our eyes bend a bit to that lens. We look for the brighter, longer moments. We feel the need to hold onto this time of year because it feels at once apart from our daily lives and essential to the lives we are working so hard every day to build for ourselves and our children.

Summer is the time, too, when (again, if we are lucky) we get to reconnect with extended family and not-often-seen friends. We share meals, and drinks, and adventures with the people who make us who we are, make us glad to have this life to celebrate. Even though, often, these are not the people with whom we share the bulk of our lives. We share the bright days with them. The memory making days.

Photo by E Eames

Photo by E Eames

All of this makes summer a unique time for us at Portraits that Move. So much of our mission is to celebrate the every day. The moments between these milestone days. All the days and days worth of moments that got your son or daughter to this summer day when their great aunt marvels, as if on cue, at how much they have grown.

For us, as we continue our mission of celebrating our shared moments and documenting our mundane and marvelous lives, we look at this season of milestone moments - the family trips, the camp letters home, the plans for the coming school year and Mitzvah season - and we recognize that nature is helping us do our work in a pointed and beautiful way. It is brightening the light. It is setting the stage. It is giving us all a little extra time to recognize and celebrate the moments that we create and the moments that find us, if we are lucky enough.

Summer Snaps with Portraits that Move!

We’re sharing Summer Snaps throughout the season to help us remember to be mindful of all the moments the season has to offer.

summer snaps summer camp.jpg

For us, this is a fun way to share our mission to celebrate every moment because every moment matters. And it’s a great way to stay in touch with each other and gather joy from our collected adventures, discoveries, and quiet moments in time during one of the most beautiful seasons of the year.

Photo by #PTMsummersnapper  @elizabeth.eames

Photo by #PTMsummersnapper @elizabeth.eames

So, take us along on your adventures! Snap a photo and share on Instagram. Tag @portraitsthatmove #ptmsummersnaps so we can all celebrate together. If we all join in, the PTM Team will launch a special contest with a super fun promotion in August… so stay tuned, and start snapping!



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.”

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. 

happy birthday portraits that move.png

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)!

What My Son Taught Me About Listening

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

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

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

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

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

And I was grateful that I was able to listen.

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

What's in a Name: Why We Are Portraits that MOVE

We took care in coming up with the name for our documentary style family film business, and Portraits that Move is just right.  

Of course, there is the obvious - our portraits of your babies and your children reveal who they are in ways that photography, baby books and memory journals can't.  Because we are filmmakers, we are able to give you the gift of your children dancing, singing, telling their favorite stories, and moving through their space as it is, and as they are right now.

portraits that move filmmakers

 

But there is something more about this idea of moving.  As parents, as families, we are always moving.  Even when we stop to savor the moment, we are aware that these moments are as fleeting as they are wonderful.

As we enjoy the last days of summer, the family time, the adventures, and the discoveries they bring, we understand that we can't stop.  We can't stop our children from growing and changing.  We can't stop the summer from turning into fall and the learning and growth it will bring.  And we would never want to.

back to school video portraits that move

But we can be present in these moments.  We can help you gather them, preserve them, and celebrate them, season after season, change after change.

My Challenge to You: Connect with Someone You Have Been Missing

Here on the blog, we have written about tips for staying connected and keeping in touch with your children while away on business travel.  As working parents, we understand how important it is to feel connected to our kids when we are away from home, and how much we treasure any and every moment of connection that we can carve out of hectic schedules.

connect with family work life balance portraits that move

What we have not discussed quite as often, are the challenges of connecting with extended family - from parents and siblings to grandparents, cousins, and treasured friends.  Our busy schedules at work and at home, along with the distance that often separates extended family, make connecting in a real way difficult.  At the same time, these difficulties reinforce for us just how important these people are in our lives and how much we want, and need, to commit to them.

Whether it's taking a vacation together, scheduling time for a phone call, or sharing photos and videos of our children - and our lives - on social media, we are committing to staying connected to our families in all forms, across generations, in spite of (and because of!) busy schedules, demands of work and children, and the distance that separates but does not break our bonds.   We are committed to helping you do the same. We want to make it easier for you to feel closeness and to be enveloped in the joy that our relationships with our loved ones provide. 

portraits that move challenge connect with family

Take a moment today to reach out to a family member or a close friend that you haven't connected with in awhile.  Share a story about your children, or better yet, let them share their own stories.  The pace of our lives will not slow down but our ability to connect is here and it's real.  Do it today- it will make your day, your week and your life better, I promise. 

 

What Family Videos Do You Wish You Had?

When I talk to people about Portraits The Move, they get excited and interested about what we do. They often will say “What a great idea!” or “How did you come up with that?” I always laugh and feel grateful about the sleepless nights that led me to the brainstorm that is now our company. 

When I explain the thoughts, values and intentions behind what we do, people always begin to tell me what type of work they think we should create.  I love hearing about this. My mind is open, I love brainstorming and even more love learning about what is most meaningful to you. 

grandparent video family legacy videos portraits that move

Very often, people express a desire to document their parents or grandparents with their children. At this age, the sense that time is rushing by is powerful. There is a need to slow it down and to savor. We completely understand this desire. And we have listened in creating our first grandparent video.

We want to make more of these. We want to be present for the wisdom of grandparents and the sheer delight of seeing them interact with our children. We love the celebration of it and the legacy we get the privilege of preserving. Like all of our work, we feel like it is a gift to witness and we feel grateful to have this company and to do this work.

custom family video portraits that move legacy video

We want to know what else YOU would like us to create? What would be meaningful to you? What videos of your family do you wish you had? Let us know and we’ll come up with a plan together.  It would be our joy to do so. 

xo,

Susannah

Lessons from My Son in Honor of Mother's Day

I always knew I wanted to be a mother. I have always loved kids and have enjoyed being around them.  As a teenager I babysat and was a camp counselor. I am very close with my mother and have admired her and emulated her. I have found mothering with many other women in my life and have consistently sought it out. Intuitively, I knew that mothering would come easily to me and that I would enjoy it.  

mothers day portraits that move mother and son lessons

Motherhood has, however, been wonderful in ways I did not expect. In the past eight years I have learned so much about myself, and about life in general, through the lens of parenthood. In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I would share some of the surprises that have come along the way:

  • Meaning can come out of the mundane ~ I walk my son to school every morning and in the 9 minutes it takes to do that, we often have profound conversations. I cherish this time with him and the fact that we both know it is something we share. Before I was a parent, I would never have guessed that something so routine as a walk to school could be so important.
  • Joy is everywhere ~ My son loves to laugh, tell jokes and be silly. He can find something funny in almost any situation or setting. I am a more naturally serious person, so seeing life through his eyes has opened me up to much more fun.
  • Things can be healed quickly ~ When there is an issue between my son and I or when I witness one with his friends, I notice that he has the ability to get over things quickly and easily. I have learned from him to let things roll more easily, to focus on the closeness and the positive rather than the negative interaction.
  • Asking for what you want is critical ~ Kids have the ability to be clear about what they want and need and to ask for it. As adults we are much more clouded by what we think SHOULD happen and the rules around that, so we often favor manners over directness.  It has been eye opening to admit that asking for what we need feels good and is the route to honest relationships and deeper fulfillment.

This weekend and always, I celebrate all of our client who are mothers and all of the special women in my life who have mothered my son and me in all kinds of ways. I tell my son every day that I am grateful to be his mom. He laughs it off, but I believe he knows I mean it.  I love this life we have together - the lessons, the surprises and the fun.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Give the Gift of Portraits that Move

Celebrate your family and the lessons you learn and share with your kids this Mother's Day.  Give the gift of a Portrait or Snapshot Film to a mom that matters to you - or to celebrate yourself! 

We're Turning Two

We’re celebrating!

This week marks TWO years since we launched Portraits That Move. It has been incredibly joyous, as we have so loved getting to know all of our families, spending time with their children and creating treasures for them to enjoy for years to come. We made this little video to celebrate our anniversary:

I have enjoyed thinking about innovative ways to meet families and dreaming up new ways to serve them. I view this work as an offering, a way to share our joie di vivre, and our philosophy about being present in each and every moment.

In the year ahead we will be releasing some new types of videos, referral discounts, video packages, and new opportunities for us to document your beautiful moments. Stay tuned for a;; these great things!

I am looking forward to meeting new families and I hope our existing clients continue to come back for more, so we can share with them, the beautiful ways in which their children have grown.

Most of all, from the bottom of my heart, I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for believing in this work, for becoming our clients, for reading this blog, for sharing our videos and spreading the word - and thank you for trusting us. You have allowed my dream to come true and I am grateful beyond measure.

And now, thanks for celebrating with us! You know I love any excuse to party, and this is a pretty amazing one.

With much love and gratitude

~ Susannah

DIY Craft Stick Conversation Starters for Kids and Tweens

Talking with kids never ceases to amaze - and inspire - our Portraits that Move team.

This weekend, we had the pleasure of participating in the Runnin' Wild Toys Pop Up Book Fair on Court Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

popsicle stick game diy mason jar projects kids

In addition to chatting with neighbors and friends about Portraits that Move and our work making moving portraits, snapshot films and our new video alternative to holiday cards, we set up a fun activity for kids.  And as we so often find, it was just as much fun for us as it was for them.

Here is a quick rundown of our activity and some tips for making your own DIY conversation starters for kids and tweens...

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

conversation starters for kids diy game

How to play:
Write one conversation starter question on each craft stick and fill one mason jar.

Invite your kids to pull out a craft stick and read and answer the question.  Place that stick in the other mason jar and continue the game.

This fun activity engages kids, helps them overcome shyness, and encourages them to share their ideas and their experiences in a way that makes everyone smile.  It worked so well for us at the Book Fair and would surely be a fun addition to classroom activities, team activities and around the table during dinner or over the holidays.

Tip: Get the kids to help come up with some of the questions.  They will feel proud to hear others read and answer their questions and you will get more insight into what they like to talk about.

Sample Questions

If I could fly, I would…

When I hear music, I…

If I could be a book character I would be...

What I love most about my home is...

I am most proud of….

The hardest thing I ever learned how to do was…

The superpower that I have is….

Who is your best friend and why?

diy craft stick mason jar projects kids

Share Your Stories with Us
Join us on facebook and share your photos, questions, answers and video clips!  We would love to hear about all the fun you have creating conversations with your kids.

On Freedom

Freedom is a word that has come up a lot in the last week.  As we gear up to celebrate our country’s birthday, we have gratitude for the freedoms we have in this nation. They feel meaningful, important and unifying.

In the last week, thoughts about freedom have felt even more significant in celebrating the United States Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. Over the years I periodically have participated in gay pride celebrations, but this year I decided that it was important to bring my son to the Gay Pride parade in New York City.

I knew it would be fun, a big party, flamboyant and joyous. What I did not expect was the flood of emotions I would feel to be there. Every cheer felt soulful, every moment of applause extra vibrant. I wept and cheered and wept some more. And my son was in it with me. He laughed and we danced and he cheered and was fully present in the celebration.

 

When I think about the fact that gay marriage will be legal for his generation and generations after that, without question - I feel overwhelmed with joy. It is incredible to think of a future where everyone can have whatever type of family they choose. This is the definition of freedom to me. We have so much to celebrate today and every day.


What does freedom mean to you? How do you celebrate it? How do you document that celebration?

Joy Surprises - What Ed Sheeran Taught Me about Community

Last week I went to Ed Sheeran’s concert at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. I love his music and am always lifted and invigorated when I hear a talented performer give a live concert. At one point during the song, Sing, Ed had the whole audience participating in a round. I was in tears.

I think I cried because of his gift, I cried because I was filled with joy and was having a huge amount of fun. Most of all, though, I think I cried because it felt powerful to be part of a community creating something, even for one song. There was an intense feeling of belonging, of purpose and that the entire experience was bigger than any one person.

ed sheeran at Barclays Brooklyn


I feel that way about parenthood. We can’t do what we do alone and our children need more than just us. It goes beyond family; teachers, friends, doctors, clergy, and the people involved in our everyday communities are all part of the raising of our children. It is beautiful and part of the delicious recipe of what influences and inspires our children to be who they are.

With Portraits That Move, I am also trying to create that sense of belonging for parents. My hope is that when people see our videos, they will be able to relate, to laugh, to sometimes cry and to feel that they are not alone in the parenthood journey. I hope they can feel part of something with us. When we sit with our community, we feel wholly supported and that is deeply meaningful.  It is a true gift.

Definition of a Hero

Last week we shot some footage for a campaign of work we are doing with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. ALSF is an organization that raises money to fund childhood cancer research.  Last year we created four videos for Alex's Lemonade Stand and this year we are creating more.

We had the opportunity to meet a little boy named Cole and his family who are ALSF heroes. Cole is 11 years old and in remission from cancer. Cole is a powerful kid. He has a huge smile and his zest for life is infectious.

The definition of hero is a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds or noble qualities.  Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation defines all the children that are battling childhood cancer, as heroes and I could not agree more. In my experience spending time with these children (or any other child batting serious illness) these children are motivated, filled with fun and grateful for their lives.

Being in their presence puts things into perspective.  It makes you stop, take stock and assess things. Emotionally, it is the opposite of what one would expect. It is actually uplifting. These children are generous, open and kind. They take each moment seriously, which forces the same for those in their lives. They celebrate everything and joy radiates from them.

I can’t wait to share this video once we finish it and the others that will follow. I feel lucky to have met Cole, Edie, Kaela, Tony and others, and I so look forward to getting a moment to share in their joy and helping to fight the fight of childhood cancer in our own way.

Happy Mother's Day

To all the moms, grandmothers, special aunts, godmothers and everyone of you who loves and cares for children, we wish you a Happy Mother's Day filled with the joy, pride and love that you find in your children every day.

No matter how you celebrate this weekend, remember to choose joy and remember how loved and appreciated you are.  And how much everything you do matters. We are grateful for you and to be among you. 

Thank you, moms.  Happy Mother's Day! 

With HUGE love,

Susannah

A space for All of Us - In Front of the Camera

I have spent more than two decades behind the camera. As a young child, I wanted to be an actress, a performer and a singer.

I loved being on stage, but quickly found out that, even though I was driven, I was not particularly talented.

When I was fourteen I got lucky. The high school I attended had a public access television station, and I enrolled in a class to learn about video production.

My life changed.

I felt the creative rush of making something that the world could experience without having to be the one in front, performing. I could make decisions, have a voice and lead a project in a new way. I was hooked. I loved all aspects of producing.  I still do.

Later, I went to film school and graduate film school, embarking on the journey of learning how to be a good producer.  In the early days of my career, the voice of a film was really that of the director. The producer’s job was to stand behind the director and the on-camera talent - to be the support and power behind the public representation of a project.

I felt at home in that role, knowing I could make a difference while supporting the people with whom I worked. I could create a safe space for everyone involved with the project.

I could help them find and tell their truths, and share the message of the film.

Interestingly, now, after twenty years of that work, I am faced with a shift in roles, thanks to the launch of Portraits that Move – and this blog, specifically. I’m excited but, frankly, a little nervous to put my own voice out there, my image, and my ideas. It feels weird and unsettling to be in front of the camera instead of behind it, but it is exactly where I need to be.

Why? First, I believe that we should try things that scare us.  The other side of that risk is empowerment. Second, if I am asking people to be in front of the camera and tell their truths, then I need to do the same. This kind of trust, this type of dialogue is what we need for the authenticity and accessibility of Portraits that Move.

Sharing our feelings unites us and makes us feel closer.  A recent conversation with my cousin reinforced that perspective and suggested that this blog be a conduit for connection.  So, in that spirit, I hope that this space will be just that, a place for us to feel closer, to share in joy, and to be in this together.

Thank you in advance for the support and feedback, as I step out from behind the camera.  Looking forward to our continued conversation, and exploration of truth, connection and fearlessness together. 

~ Susannah Ludwig, March 2015