There are times when I photograph children and they hide. The simply refuse to have their soul stolen by the giant black machine I’m holding in front of my face. They cry. They stomp away. This doesn’t happen a lot, but it has absolutely happened.
That didn’t happen today. When I walked into this home all the children started talking to me. I sat on the floor for a moment (I’m totally a floor-sitter) and the spunky 3-year-old plopped herself into my lap. Later, when I asked her if she was helpful or just curious she said, “curious.” She helped me take my gear out of my bag and put it back in. When I say “helped” I mean she zipped the bag up and opened it. I have had three three-year-olds… I’m well aware of their propensity to treat things unlike the adult who cherishes her gear. Her eyes sparkled with curiosity and I was happy to let her “help” in what way she could.
I photographed the oldest and her dad caring for their flock of chickens. They had 17 of these beautiful birds. There were two Bantam roosters and the rest were a lovely variety of egg layers. Their meat birds had already been culled and more will be raised in Spring. As someone who raised chickens for a few years, I had a big appreciation for their homestead. There’s something satisfying about raising your own food. There’s something heartwarming and important about teaching your children about the lives that give you nourishment. It’s important for children to know where their food comes from; that the chicken their eating is the same as the animal on a farm on in a backyard.
After the chickens we journeyed indoors for breakfast. Plenty of fresh fruit and smoothies. Mama sat on the couch snuggling the newest member of their family, just shy of two-weeks-old. Mamas need a lot of healing time and Dad was happy to spend some time with their children.
Their oldest showed me some journals she created. Their oldest middle kept busy drawing. She reminded me much of my own middle one. The youngest middle was the chattiest and busiest. Photographing children in their own spaces provides opportunities to capture their dirty, little feet; the quietness of their hair; the moments they laugh with a sibling or look at a book or play with a family pet. There are natural conversation starters available and memories waiting to be captured.
Their home was also home to three rescue dogs - Luka, Fenway, and Gizmo - and two cats Simon and Dolly. Luka wanted ALL the love. She was great in front of the camera. Simon, however, dug a quiet claw into Dad when picked up for his moment of fame. He promptly retreated back to his hiding place in another part of the house.