Victoria from The Storytog made all of these photographs and wrote these words for you today. She embodies so much of why I love this type of photography and she works so hard to abolish the stigma that photos need to be perfect. She has embraced the messes in her life as proof that her children are well-loved and helps other families do the same. Thank you so much for being here Victoria!
When you walk through my front door, you’ll more than likely be greeted by a shy (at first) two-year-old, a rambunctious five-year-old who will be determined to know everything about you in the span of thirty seconds, and a three-year-old chocolate lab mix who will do her best not to knock you over and kiss your face all at the same time.
Once the ritual door greetings are over, you might possibly get a glimpse of the playroom to the left or the extended playroom (aka, the living room) to the right. And there’s something that may very well shock you as you look around: our house is lived in. That’s what I’ve been told at least. There are toys scattered about, a random DVD on the floor courtesy of the two-year-old, books scattered (again, the two-year-old), and quite possibly socks and pants (that would be the five-year-old).
As a stay-at-home mom, my days are spent chasing children, helping with homework, and cooking and cleaning. As a photographer and business owner, whatever time I can get is spent editing photos, writing blogs, marketing, advertising, and all of my obligatory entrepreneurship duties.
This is our daily life. And it’s messy.
When I began venturing into the portrait realm, I focused my entire attention outdoors, trying for those dreamy wooded family photos right at sunset, with the adorable family sitting on picnic blankets, all laughing and smiling, so happy together.
I was stunned when I started following a prominent lifestyle/documentary photographer and saw she primarily shot indoors, inside beautiful New York homes that looked like something out of a magazine. That was my very first introduction into the lifestyle world. In order to have those photos you had to live in a big, beautiful house that looked like it may have been curated by a museum.
As my son grew older and we added our daughter to our crazy lives, that big, beautiful, photogenic house seemed like such a faraway dream. Certainly not for people like me, with lives and kids who had decided that every blank wall was an easel for their masterpieces.
It left me feeling insufficient, like my life, my home, would never be enough to be photographed.
Because I stay at home, 90% of the photos I take are at home. And I used to think everything had to be cleaned before photographing my children doing anything. I picked up, swept, dusted, mopped, all for a two-second photo before they tore everything out again. It was exhausting. And left me feeling incredibly unfulfilled.
Our life isn’t pristine. Not even close. It’s messy, it’s dirty. That’s what life is, that’s what life is supposed to be.
I began embracing the mess. And quite shockingly, I found beauty in it: the beauty of my children playing together, peacefully for once. The beauty of my husband teaching our son how to play chess. The beauty of my daughter watching me cook. As I began to see these things, the mess began to disappear. It became a normal part of our background because that’s what it was, a normal part of our lives.
Life is messy, there’s no denying it; but the mess shouldn’t stop you from documenting it. Without the mess, we no longer appreciate fully the beauty that is in front of us. The mess is a sign that we are living, we are breathing, we are creating, and we are loving. Embrace the mess, embrace your life, and don’t be afraid to document it.
Victoria is an avid coffee lover and bibliophile in Northern Tennessee. She enjoys the simple moments of life that make the whole. She is a birth and lifestyle storyteller, blogger, mother, and wife and loves exploring forests, homeschooling her kids, and watching Doctor Who and Sherlock.