A Surprise Party

This past Sunday my sister visited us for brunch.  I cooked and then we went for a walk to the local playground. We hung out there for a while and then went home.  That was when an incredible thing happened: I was given a surprise birthday party. 

lessons learned surprise party portraits that move

If you know me, you know that I LOVE my birthday. I love everything about it, the gathering of friends, the well wishes and of course the cake. I feel deeply grateful to be alive every year and I love celebrating that. But a surprise party - wow!!! That takes the feeling to a whole other level. It was incredible. 

And that got me thinking about surprises - how they feel and what they bring up for us. After feeling the adrenal rush from the surprise, I was, of course, happy and filled with gratitude. A surprise party forces presence. You are with your feelings in that moment. And everyone attending is with you in that moment, those feelings, as well. It is a pretty miraculous thing.

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A couple of the kids there had never been to a surprise party.  They were riveted and excited. Even my son, who is pretty cool most of the time, said, "Mind Blown, Mom." 

I wondered how could we prepare our kids for such quick gear shifts, when surprises come in the form of parties, or other unexpected events. Is there some way to teach our children ease and peace in these kinds of situations? And at the same time how do we encourage the fun and exuberance that they feel naturally? 

Most of all, and my surprise party was still another way to reinforce this lesson, we need to teach our children that the passage of time is important and meaningful, as is the ability to be present to experience the moments that mark, and make our time together. 

It is truly incredible that we get to be here every new year, celebrating, and it is my birthday wish that we continue to do so, by sharing our stories and documenting our lives, together. 

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.

"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!

Talking With Kids: What Does It Mean to Be in Love?

I am so excited about Valentine’s Day.  I love any excuse to be romantic, generous and expressive. These days Valentine’s Day is all about my son, my family and my friends. I use it as a formalized reason to express how much I treasure all of them, how much they mean to me and how much gratitude I have for the expansive love in my life.

valentine video

This year, I got curious, about what being in love means to my son, so I asked him:

“What do you think it means to be in love?”

His response, “Being in love is about generosity, kindness, loyalty and protection.”  I was floored by his answer. What a teacher he is, this son of mine.

I opened up the question to a couple of his friends.  One friend said that, “Being in love means you have a person that cares about you that you also care about.” 

talking with kids about love

Another friend said “It means finding a person you want to marry.”  This was a common theme, another young girl said, “Being in love is when you love someone so much and they love you so much, enough that you want to marry them.  And that is being in love." All true. 

I find talking to kids about their feelings and the definitions of their feelings so enlightening. Doing so opens the window into what they are thinking and also into new ways of seeing our own emotions. 

We are showing our kids how much we love them by listening, hearing them and honoring their ideas. There is nothing more loving than that.

Wishing you all tremendous love on Valentine’s Day. Hope it comes to you in many forms, those expected and those suprising.

Why We Love February

February is a special time of year here at Portraits that Move.  We are busy creating Valentine video gifts and listening to kids talk about love.  They share what love means to them, who they love and why, and what their own special plans are for celebrating and sharing love.

That's one of the beautiful things about creating documentary style short films for families.  We have the privilege - and the responsibility - of helping kids communicate their love and joy to the people they love the most.

And we get to celebrate right along with all of you.  Through every film shoot, every hour in the editing room, and all of our conversations with kids and parents, we are living and sharing love and joy.

As we head into Valentine's Day, know that we love every one of you - our clients, friends and readers.  And we are so grateful to help you spread the love today and always.

Happy Valentines Day!