Celebrating a Couple's Love and a Family's Story

Recently, we made a Portrait Video to celebrate the tenth wedding anniversary of a longtime Portraits that Move family.

Creating an Anniversary Portrait video for Michelle Roos and her family was as amazing an experience for us as it was for them. It was a joy to see the love that they share and to reflect back to them the story Michelle and her husband Danny have created over the last 10 years.

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When Michelle came to us to ask us to create this anniversary film, we were thrilled to continue to celebrate the story of a family that means so much to us. The first video we created for the family was the Generations Video we made to honor the 100th birthday of Michelle’s grandfather.

It means so much to us to be able to document and honor the milestones of Michelle’s family and so many others.

And we are not the only ones who were moved by the experience of creating and watching the film. According to Michelle, Gavi, the couple’s just turned 9 year old, had “the best reaction ever.”

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Michelle tells this story about watching the film with Gavi and the rest of the family. “The whole time he was watching he kept coming over and hugging and kissing us. He just loved it and was filled with warm feelings about our family. Danny thought it was very sweet and when it was done he said, ‘I guess I have to make you a card.’”

For our part, we are so happy to have made this film for them. We wish Michelle, Danny and their family continued health and happiness. And we thank them from the bottom of our hearts for including us in the milestone moments of their lives.





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!


Looking Back - Favorite Moments of 2017

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

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

When Zach kisses mom.

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

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

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

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

Spreading holiday love with Mama and Tata.

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

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

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

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

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

How Seeing and Hearing Our Children Helps Energize Us

The busy-ness of professional life can leave us feeling low on energy and in need of inspiration to help us get the most out of our time in the office and at home.  Sometimes, taking a few moments to center ourselves and celebrate our family can revive, encourage, and remind us of all that we are helping to create every day.

What we notice, through this practice, is how we can create small moments throughout our days that are restorative and filled with gratitude.  At Portraits that Move, we are driven by the idea that every moment matters. It is in that spirit that we create all of our custom videos. 

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Sometimes, You Need a Moment

Parents are watching Portrait Videos while they are on business travel and even in stolen moments in the middle of hectic work days.  

Being able to listen to and see our children when we are away from them reminds us that we are doing so much right, even though the stress of managing work life and home life all too often tries to convince us otherwise.

Yes, parents love to receive Portrait Videos as holiday gifts, especially around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but the real gift is having something that to turn to every day - any day - that lets you savor a moment with your children, wherever you are.

The Power of Seeing and Hearing Your Children on Film 

Portraits that Move client Sabrina talks about the true gift of Portraits that Move, explaining that for her busy family, their Portrait Video “gave them the gift they always wanted – more time with the children.”

Other clients have shared with us that they are surprised by the final video product, and its ability to allow kids to “[share] things about themselves that we rarely, if ever, get to see.” 

As parents, we are always looking for tools to help maintain work-life balance. Our videos have become a surprisingly joyful way to do that.

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Embrace Your Moments

We salute you on getting through another busy day. And we are here for you to help document the moments that you can savor now, while things are frantic, and later, when you are looking back at this time wondering how it all went by so quickly.

How Our Passover Celebration Reminded Me about Documentation and Moments that Matter

Passover in my family is quite the celebration. My father writes an original Haggaddah (prayer book) every year. My mother is an extraordinary cook and her food is delicious on every holiday, but it is important to note, this is even true on Passover, which can be challenging for even the best cooks.

Most of all, though, the fun, these days is about the kids. At our table, we had 5 boys under the age of 10. It was energetic and loud and silly. The prayers this year were kid- friendly. My son read the four questions and my sweet nephew dressed up as Moses. It was an evening filled with laughter, fun, and closeness. Exactly the way holidays should be.

I always struggle with the pull of staying in the moment and enjoying vs. documenting the events of the day. I think most parents in this digital age feel the same. I am grateful for these few photos that my partner shot. I am grateful for the joy, my family, the freedom and this beautiful time of year.

What traditions are important to you and how do you celebrate them?

Portraits that Move client Michelle Roos shared her story about why documenting holidays, particularly Passover and her grandfather's birthday has meant so much to her.  Read her story on Kveller and share with us here and on Facebook how you are treasuring your family traditions now and throughout the year. 

All photos in post courtesy of David Marcus.

Overcoming Shyness: Tips for Working with Kids on Camera

People often ask me what happens if their child is shy or does not want to participate on the day we arrive to film their Portraits that Move video. I always respond with complete sincerity that this is not a problem at all.

Our main goal for the film shoot is to create an open, loving space for the child to be who they are. If they feel pressured, pushed or coerced in any way, it will not work.  We want your kids to know that we love them exactly as they are.

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We recently did a holiday shoot for two girls, Savannah and Derby. For the second year in a row, we documented the sisters for their family's Holiday Video Card. We had spent time with them last year, we cherished them and the entire family loved their first video.

Still, when we arrived to shoot the video the next year, one of the girls, Derby, was not into us being there. Initially, she refused to talk to me. She did not want to do anything we asked of her and, at one point, she even hid from us.

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I showed Derby love at every turn, letting her know that her feelings were normal.  I assured her and made her feel comfortable with the filming process in the following ways:

  • I let her know that she could show us and tell us what SHE wanted. All of her answers were up to her.
  • We loved her and smiled at her even through her protest. It is a weird situation to have a camera there - we acknowledged that, and we acknowledged her feelings.
  • We encouraged anything that would bring her comfort. You will see a purple stuffed snake throughout the video. She wanted it close to her, and we agreed.
  • When she said it was over for her, we wrapped it up. There is no reason to push a child beyond the point they are willing to go. Safety and comfort are most important.  Children need and deserve to feel in control of their own experience. After all, how can our kids show us their best selves if they feel uncomfortable?

Ultimately, the film captures Derby’s spirit beautifully. She is sparkly and loving and filled with fun. I loved spending the afternoon with her. I hope she felt the same. 

Resolution vs. Intention: Choosing Joy and Gratitude

There is an energy to this time of year, when we sit down and list what we want to do and how we want to be. We welcome the changes that a new year brings.  We write down our goals, we make plans to achieve them, we may even resolve to be more present, to savor the moment.

This year, at Portraits that Move, we are taking a slightly different approach to the coming year.  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.  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.

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We are lucky because doing so is exactly how we live out the Portraits that Move mission through the work we do as filmmakers every day.  We get to find and celebrate joy and gratitude every time we document the lives of families, and we have the unique privilege of being able to reflect that joy and gratitude back to them when we deliver their Portrait Films. 

This year, our team will work with all kinds of families.  For each of them, the coming days and months will take twists and turns.  In what seems like a moment, their children will grow, change, discover and surprise them.  In those moments - the unexpected, the everyday and the in between - they will discover joy and gratitude, and we will help them to witness it, and to preserve it. 

new years resolution vs intention

To you, the families we have grown with, and the new families we will meet this year, as you set your goals and state your resolutions, try to remember the peace and togetherness you found in the holiday season, or the peace and togetherness that you may have found at more unexpected, unplanned moments throughout the last year.  Like all of us, you are busy, every day, building your lives and your memories.

Our wish for you, our intention for, and our promise to you in the new year, is that you choose joy and that you choose gratitude through all of the beautiful, messy, ordinary and chaotic days this new year has in store.

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

What a Difference a Year Makes

Now that holiday card season is upon us and we are shooting and scheduling holiday video cards and beginning to book Signature Portrait videos for holiday gifts, we at Portraits that Move are enjoying one of our favorite annual traditions.  We are spending quality time with our clients, the members of our growing Portraits that Move family.

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What joy it is to make documenting your families an annual tradition.  And what amazing and beautiful changes we witness from behind the camera.  Whether it is bringing a new baby into the family, starting a new school, or sharing the observations, emotions, dreams and ideas that your children have this year, at this moment, documenting your family as you travel through life is one of the truest blessings we know.

Thank you to all of you who come to us and come back to us to document this time in your children's lives and your own.  We want you to know that, above all, we understand the trust that you put in us to reflect back to you the magic and beauty of your family as it is in this moment.  And we treasure this gift you give to us as we know you treasure the gift of your Portraits that Move family films.

We have some Holiday Video Shoot slots remaining.  Book yours now, or contact us to schedule a Signature Portrait shoot.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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

Love and Legacy

We often talk about the fleeting nature of time and the power of memory here at Portraits that Move.  It is part of what drives our work with Portraits that Heal, and it is a key element of our mission at Portraits that Move to capture the fleeting moments of life so that we can look back in years to come and remember and enjoy our children as they are at this particular moment, in this particular time.

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Recently, we have been approached by friends and fans of our film work with children asking if we can look at their family through a slightly different lens.  More and more families have asked us to help document the unique and special bond between grandparents and children.  They are realizing, as we do, that time changes more than our children and our children's perspectives on the world around them.  

They want us to document their own parents and grandparents and the moments they share with their children.  These moments are invaluable.  They create and celebrate legacy and they are brimming with love.  

Our founder and executive producer, filmmaker Susannah Ludwig with her mom and her son.

Our founder and executive producer, filmmaker Susannah Ludwig with her mom and her son.

We have been privileged to film grandparents and great grandparents with their grandchildren and we have been inspired and motivated by the reactions from our clients when they watch the final products.  Parents view these videos with the same pride and wonder that they feel when they watch our Signature Portrait videos of their kids.  But there is something more that happens when they see their family coming together across generations.  There is a wave of nostalgia, there is a bittersweet realization that this now will not be forever.  There is an awareness of the history, wisdom and love shared from generation to generation.  And there is a deep gratitude, a certain kind of relief, that they have been able to mark this moment in time and they will be able to hold it, to return to it, and to treasure it forever.

We thank the families who have come to us to create legacy videos for them. We are grateful for the opportunity to celebrate the grandparents and great grandparents and to share in how they  enrich the lives of their children.  They have enriched our lives as well.  Videos like these reinforce our mission and energize our work with children and families in ways we had not envisioned when we launched Portraits that Move two years ago.

Thank you for inviting us into your lives and allowing us to be part of your family history.

To learn more about grandparent videos or to schedule a consultation, please contact us.

Portraits that Move Reviews: Parents Share Surprise and Joy

When we connect with parents for a pre-filming consultation, we talk about what to expect at a Portraits that Move film shoot.  We talk about how to prepare the children (hint: just let them know we are coming, but don't rehearse or plan for specific conversations... what naturally and organically unfolds is what is truly beautiful).  We address their questions about how long the shoot will take (about 3-4 hours for a full length signature Portrait Video) and how we help kids who are feeling a bit shy when filming day comes.

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Parents remark that they always feel well prepared for their Portraits that Move video film shoot.  What surprises them is their reaction when they see the Portrait Video for the first time.  Even though they have been part of this process, even though they have seen our other videos, read the blog, and stay in touch with us on Facebook and Instagram, there is something about that moment when parents see their children, hear their voices, experience their own Portraits that Move video.

 

We've rounded up some of the reviews from parents about the filming process and about that first moment they see their video, and what it means to them.

"We gave the video to my husband as a Valentine from the girls. He was so surprised and moved that he actually cried when he watched for the first time!" - Libby Mayward

"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." Elena Berger 

"The final product was amazing and had our kids sharing things about themselves and their inner thoughts that we rarely, if ever, hear from them." - Jason Kunreuther

"We must have watched the portrait of our boys, Nikko and Louis, a million times! Gregg was able to bring out the best in their personalities by capturing the smallest of details... A timeless memento for any parent!" - Rhodalea Le

Contact us to discuss how we can create a Portrait Video for your family.

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Make Summer Memories Together

Lately, we have been wrapping up the week on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with a reminder to our friends and followers to go out and make some memories.  It seems the desire to make memories is rarely as strong as it is in the summer months.  Thinking back, so many of the memories we treasure as adults were those that we made in the summer - backyard adventures, camp friends, vacations with our family.

Summer has changed quite a bit since we were kids, with parents feeling more pressure than ever to balance work with memory-making family time, and trying to keep some of the magic of summer alive for our kids in the midst of schedules that don't seem to take a break with the change of seasons the way we often wish they would.

Let's try, this summer, to plan some time (whether it's a day, a week, or a few hours) to connect with our kids, to invite them to explore something new, to spend time with extended family across generations, and to make, and treasure all the memories we can.

If you need a little extra help planning, check out our Tips for Planning a Memory Making Family Vacation.

Take Us Along with You

It is a joy for us to help families document and savor the memories that they make on vacation.  Learn more about our Vacation Packages, and choose one that is right for you.

What the End of School Year Means for Parents

There are few moments when the passage of time is felt as acutely as it is at the end of the school year.  Surely, we are all looking at (and posting) the side-by-side First Day of School/Last Day of School photos on social media and remarking at how much our children and our friends' children have changed over the course of a school year.

Likely, we are also thinking in our more quiet, private moments, about how fast the time is going, how different our kids are from when they started the school year, and anticipating, already, how much they will have changed by the end of the summer, by the end of next year...

Celebrate these moments, mark these changes.  Listen to and look at your children as they are right now, carrying with them what they learned over these past few months, hearing their dreams for vacation adventures and all that lies ahead of them. 

Schedule a Portraits that Move portrait video session today, to honor the now, to preserve this moment, this year, this child of yours.  It doesn't need to be a holiday in the traditional sense, and it doesn't have to be a formal gift to a parent or grandparent.  Let this be your time to celebrate your children, their accomplishments, this moment, right now.

"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.

portraits that move grandparent video

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. 

family legacy video 100th birthday

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!

The Small Moments are Powerful - Get to Know the Portraits that Move Baby Video

A few weeks ago when we announced that the Portraits that Move team added documentary style baby videos to our family video products, we were thrilled to see the excitement from families and were energized by your enthusiasm for our work.

Since launching our baby video product we have met wonderful families and been able to experience the beauty and the joy that come with adding a new person to the world.  And that was certainly the case in the baby video we created for Ramona and her family. 

 

We loved watching the pure joy of Ramona exploring her world around her.  It is incredible to capture her parents talking about Baby Ramona and discussing their hopes and dreams for her.  When we create baby videos, we are so aware of how much babies change and how much it means to document this moment, the core vision of our company in action.

With infants, the small moments are powerful - watching them walk, eat, smile, explore.  As filmmakers, creating baby videos brings us back to our basic gratitude for what we can do and also how amazing life is.

We invite you to take in this moment with us.  Enjoy the video of Ramona as she explores her world.  For me, nothing compares to the moment she is exploring the snow.  What a gift to be reminded of this simple pleasure, of its newness and of the hopeful anticipation that surrounds it - and her.

Peek at Our Filmmaking Process

We talked with Max and Julian about video games, superpowers and what they love about mom.  We talked about how it feels to have a brother and to be one.

Throughout the Portraits that Move filming process, we asked Max and Julian questions independently and together.  We gave them space and time to really talk to us, to do more than introduce themselves and some of their favorite books and keepsakes (Harry Potter, a panda photo). 

Our questions and the environment we create during a Portraits that Move film shoot, allowed these adorable, imaginative boys, ages seven and nine, to tell us about some of their aspirations and their concerns. And as always, we got some priceless responses.

"growing up makes me scared because I have to pay taxes and make money"

"I appreciate my family because they're nice to me and they care about me.  I love them."

Like all of our portrait length and snapshot films, we as filmmakers and the family who received the final product, developed a new insight into children's lives.  And what a gift that is!

Discover your own Portraits that Move Portrait or Snapshot.

I Never Want to Forget these Moments

Parents tell our Portraits that Move producers all the time that they never want to forget the precious, fleeting moments of their children's early years.  These moments are not limited to the milestones - the moments like the first day of school, graduations, and other celebrations.  For the milestone moments you, or a professional is at the ready with the camera. 

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But those little moments, those blink of an eye, moving moments are harder to remember.

What moments do you never want to forget?

When my daughter got her first tooth.

When the silly pronunciations and made up words disappeared..

family videos moments to remember

When my daughter made her baby sister laugh for the first time.

 What they were like on any given day, last year.

memories videos for families

When my son climbed the monkey bars for the first time. 

What do you want to remember most?  Tell us the memories - and the moments - you most want us to preserve.

Share your answers in the comments and on facebook.

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