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.







Music and Your Memories

Have you ever noticed that when you think back on moments of your life, there always seems to be a soundtrack? While driving in your car, a song will play and you are instantly transported to your freshman year of college, your parents' living room, or your favorite childhood vacation spot...

The connection between music and memory is powerful, both in recalling memories and in cementing them.  Music is also deeply connected to emotion.  So often there are feelings that we can't express in words, but images and music help us to capture those feelings and hold onto them.

That's why we take our time in choosing the right music for our Portraits that Move videos, the soundtracks for the moments of your lives that our films help to cement and celebrate.  When we choose your music during our production process, we do so with the images and emotions of your film shoot fresh in our minds and our hearts.  We select unique music that helps to tell your story in a way that is all your own.

Yes, it costs more to get licensing for the music we use, but we know that it is absolutely worth it, for a few reasons.  First, as artists, we support artists.  Composers truly make something out of nothing - they create songs out of silence - and they most certainly need to be compensated when their work is used.  Second, your unique films deserve their own unique scores.  This is your family, your joy, and it is our job to help bring it to the screen in all its glory, complete with the soundtrack of this moment in your life.

If you have more questions about the music in our films, or the production process, pop them into the comments below, or reach out on Facebook.  We love to talk about what we do and to share it with you!

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.

presence and surprise parenting tips managing emotions

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. 

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

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.

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.

grandparent videos legacy video for family documentary quality portraits that move

 

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.

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.