(left: my brother and I on our front porch in 1990. right: Me being held by my grandparents, with my great-grandfather in their driveway, 1987)

Okay you guys… I’m about to get real personal here!

Can we take a trip down memory lane together?? Imagine it:

 

You’re 5-10 years old.

And you’re sitting with your grandparents on the couch as they open up a magical world of family history in the form of a photo album. What were you feeling? What questions were you asking? What stories came up?

For me, specifically, I vividly remember how often I went through albums with my grandmother. She’d go through each page slowly as I asked her questions about who each person was. She would tell me about them share stories and I’d try so hard to remember each person but there was a never-ending list of family members I’d never met, their faces photographed at all ages and walks of life. Her siblings, her parents, their parents and their siblings… people from the 1800’s. My ancestors. I can remember pointing to a teenager with hair pulled back, a striped dress on, in a house that looked SO OLD from the decor. I’d ask who it was. And she would say it was her. WHAT?! Shock. My head couldn’t wrap around it as I tried to envision the life she lived based on my perception of the content of the photo. How could this be my ‘grammie’? To me, I had only ever known her as she currently was. To my young 5 year old mind there was never a time without me. I’d look at her firmly and try to picture her face on this teenager and all the time that passed between.

I did the same thing at the time with photos of my mother – I have a photo of her engrained in my head where she looks like Molly Ringwald and was wearing a belly shirt! When seeing this photo in the album she would tell me about the trip to Disney they went on  and where they were when that photo was taken. My mom, only 18 at the time. My 10 year old head could not imagine my mom wearing a belly shirt, and the shock of seeing my mom as a teen.

 

Now you’re 35.

You’re older. You’re wiser. You’re sentimental. Your loved ones are all 20 years older. Maybe you’ve experienced loss. You might have kids of your own.

You open up a photo album from when you were a kid.

You see your baby picture and can’t really picture it being you. How did your face turn from that one to this one?

You see a blurry snapshot of you eating breakfast, hair all a mess.

You see a photo of you and your brother standing in the driveway. He’s wearing the best denim jacket.

You see photos of your family on Christmas morning.

You see your teenage angst on your 16th birthday. And you’re wearing a belly shirt too!

But you know what else?? In those photos you notice the background.

You notice the tile floor of the kitchen in that breakfast photo and it immediately brings you back to your first childhood home. It triggers memories you had in that space. You randomly remember babysitting your moms friends parrot and it eating your cheerios. 

You look at your Christmas tree and say, “Wow! Look at how we used to decorate in the 80’s!”, and remember the warmth and magic of the season from your own childhood eyes. 

Your memories of the BIG HILL in your front yard that you used to drive your batmobile down sudddenly vanish when you see a photo of it in the background and it’s not a hill at all… (I’m seriously confused right now, haha)

You look at the photo from when you were a teen and begin to remember the home you were in and all the memories made in that kitchen.

Okay, we can come out of our imagination now… Thanks for coming on that trip with me. Have you had experiences like this while looking through old photos? It helps me understand how my grandmother was able to conjure up so many stories about each album when I was a kid. And it makes me think…

 

Would any of these memories have come up for me if I hadn’t seen a photo taken of my family inside my home?

Would I remember them at all?

It’s not like I go around thinking about minuscule details of my everyday life as a kid. Without the photos triggering those memories, would I even remember or be able to share and pass down that history? The photos below bring up so many amazing memories, stories, and childhood details for me. The same way they did for my grandmother when I was little.

This tells me two things.

1. We’ve all gotta take more candids on our phones of our daily lives and print them in albums so we can pass them down to the next generation.

2. Since triggering these memories is so magical & important, how can I make this magic happen in the family portraits I take for my clients?

The answer is clear and so inspiring to me as a family portrait photographer: You should consider taking your professional family portraits at your home!

By doing so, you’ll not only be taking beautiful portraits that remind you of what your family looks and feels like right now, but you’ll be making portraits that when you look back at them you remember your home and the memories come flooding back to you.

 

The proof is here when I look at these childhood photos of me: The photo on the left shows me what I looked like when I was 3. But the one on the right shows me so much more! It shows me how cute my brother and I were in 1990, it reminds me of the beautiful gardens my mom used to have, and it triggers the memory of the blizzard of ’96 when the snow was up past the railing and we went sledding off the porch!

Here are some highlights from portrait sessions with clients who’ve taken their photos at their home. I’m so glad we chose their home as the location and hope that years from now they’ll open up a world of memories.

Lets do more of this in 2020!

family sits on pile of logs at Fall Family Photo Shoot

family portrait on front porch

Heather Palecek Best of 2019

Heather Palecek Best of 2019

Heather Palecek Best of 2019

Heather Palecek Best of 2019

Winter 1st Birthday Photos

extended family portraits on back porch

Heather Palecek Best of 2019

Family-Photos-on-Appalachian-Trail-Vernon-NJ

Heather Palecek Best of 2019

nj-photographer-best-of-2017

Heather Palecek Best of 2019

Heather Palecek Best of 2019

wife looks up at husband pose

Extended Family Portraits on front porch

Family Portrait in back yard

Heather Palecek Best of 2019

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on making more family portraits in your home. Do you plan to take more candid photos of your family this year? Will you print them in an album? Would you like to schedule a family portrait session? Let me know in the comments!