Manufactured Memories (or Poop Jokes and Yoga Pants)

22 Jul

“The funny thing about taking family photographs,” my husband quipped in-between poses, “is that you’re basically documenting manufactured memories.”

I have to be honest.  Our family doesn’t often look like this:

Family Portrait

All of us smiling, standing in a field brushed with sunlight, and dressed to the nines in a color-coordinating palette of blues and oranges. There is a dramatic lack of yoga pants and mis-matched toddler socks here, along with way too much grooming.

And, can I tell you a secret?  The only reason my girls are smiling is that our wonderful photographer was cracking poop jokes from behind her lens, on my suggestion (I’ll take my Mom of the Year Award now, thanks).

But despite the surreal nature of the shots Shannon caught last weekend, I disagree that they fail to capture our family.  While we may not always look just like this, it’s a perfect depiction of how I feel inside.  My girls?  They fill my life with light. And though the mundane tasks of the day and sibling squabbles dominate my schedule, there is a contentment in my family that I rarely get the chance to capture.

The closer I look at our portrait, the more I see that Shannon photographed each of our personalities perfectly.  My shy, snuggly Bean and her comedian older sister.  My husband, with his arms wrapped around every one of us, the backbone of our family.  And me, with a genuinely happy and relaxed smile.

Manufactured?  Staged?  Maybe.  But not one less bit real.

Girls in Field Photo Shoot


If you are in the Boston area, Shannon (who is uber-talented) is running an unbelievably amazing summer special for $149! If that wasn’t enough, she loves Warrior Moms.  Creative Images Boston will donate $15 for each session that mentions Postpartum Progress!

Summer Special

Disclaimer: I received nothing in return for my post or sharing of Shannon’s summer special.  My post was completely unsolicited.  I just adore her and her work and love to help out a fellow mama.  Shannon, you’re amazing and I’m so grateful to you for capturing my family so perfectly.

7 Responses to “Manufactured Memories (or Poop Jokes and Yoga Pants)”

  1. Shannon July 22, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    Thank you so much for posting this!! I love to capture relationships and I love that your girls enjoy a good poop joke 🙂

  2. carriebaughcum July 22, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    Susan your words just embrace and warm me. You just have a wonderful way of sharing your words. Staged pictures are so as special as any other pitcture because they like other pictures have a story behind them and their moments. If the photographer is truly talented they also are able to capture an individual’s spirit and personality. What lovely pictures she captured of you and your beautiful family!!!

    • learnedhappiness July 22, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

      Thanks so much Carrie! I’m in love with the shots – and it’s even better because they were taken minutes from our home at a state park our family adores. And the fact that my friend took them? I will treasure these shots, so much.

  3. carriebaughcum July 22, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

    My goodness your words just seem to warm me and just want to get lost in their beautiful flow. I believe all pictures have a story. They all fill us with that moment and remind us of that story. And the wonderful thing about the really talented photographers…they can capture the spirit and personality of the people and family’s moments they capture. Just like yours did for you!

  4. melissabalandlee August 2, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    The photos are gorgeous. I couldn’t care less about their being staged. If I could have ONE single beautiful photo where my daughter was relaxed – and holding still – and we weren’t all four of us stressed at her disinterest and anxiety about holding still and I wasn’t holding her tightly to keep her from running away, I’d take it. It wouldn’t represent who we are. But sometimes I need to see who we could be.

  5. Kristin Novotny (@littlemamajama) August 7, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

    These pictures are stunning! What a beautiful family.

  6. ace1028 August 12, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    Gorgeous. I agree. Though often pictures seem bizarrely *off* from our so-called norm – I think they capture us. Your friend is a beautiful photographer. And your family, well, you already know they’re beautiful, but I’ll remind you how the love truly shines beyond the lighting. xo

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