The Mama Journal | The Flour Fiasco
Have you ever found yourself at that crossroad between I'm going to burst into tears and have a panic attack and this is hilarious, my child is awesome, let me get my camera ? I feel like some of the best lifestyle photography truly happens when you simply let go, release control of a situation, and document. Because I've truly found it difficult to be both the mom and the photographer at the same time. Obviously I am not referring to a situation where a child is in danger or is doing something that puts their safety at risk. I'm talking about nitpicking, face wiping, and all those other "suggestions" we moms tend to give constantly. When I am constantly directing and correcting from behind the lens, not only am I missing out on those amazing moments unfolding before me, but I'm also tarnishing them. It's tempting to tell our children where to stand, how to play with their toy (because if they just held it up to the light like so it would make a killer "lifestyle" shot!) and even where to look. The beauty of true lifestyle photography is in its authenticity, its honesty, and its messiness. If you need to clean up your living room before you photograph your daughter quietly reading on the couch, not only do you risk missing out on the moment, but it becomes staged, artificial, and the beauty that is found in those real life shots suddenly disappears. Ok - moving on.
I was caught at this crossroad early this week. My inner mom and inner photographer were battling it out, and I didn't know whether to cry or laugh. because often the best photo ops are messy, unplanned, and a little... stressful. After a morning of happily baking and playing with my girl, I was content with our day. It was fun, relaxed and just the right amount of messy to make things fun without ruffling my mama feathers too much. I posted the fourth photo in the collage below on Facebook, declaring that the dishes were piling, we were happily baking, and that "mama and bebe are both covered in flour" - ha, the irony of that last statement is pretty hilarious. My kitchen was a mess, but it was a purposeful mess, and I excitedly snapped a few frames here and there to remember this sweet morning with my girl.
And then I.turned.around. For maybe... 45 seconds. And the giant bag of flour we get from our local flour mill, that was sitting on the hardwood kitchen floor, became irresistible to my 18-month-old explorer. I could hear her laughing and squealing "Wooo!! Woof Woof! Wooowwww! Woof Woof! Wow!" - not uncommon. She's very expressive, happy and obsessed with dogs. I assumed she was playing with our lab. Assumed being the key word here, folks.
When I turned around to face her again, I saw that she was using her little dog figurine to dig into the flour bag, and was throwing piles of flour in the air, on the flour, on her head. She was sitting in it, rolling in it, crawling in it, and having the time of her life. This was probably a serious contender for happiest moment since birth.
And I just whispered "ohmigosh" and watched her for a second, trying to decide if I was going to go down the clean freak mama road and have a full blown panic attack (Because what if this set a precedent and she thought it was ok to play in flour? Or what if I wouldn't be able to get it out of the cracks in the hardwood? And what about people starving all over the world, and here is my daughter playing in flour like it's nothing... and oh my gosh I have to clean this up) or if I was going to embrace this moment, this incredibly messy, unscripted, inconvenient, wrong moment and document it, because it was too late to stop it, and heck, this was truly one for the wedding slide show. I took a deep breath, grabbed my camera, and started documenting my girl's delight for about a minute. By the end of that minute, I was covered in flour. She was covered in flour. The kitchen was covered in flour. And her woof woof was definitely covered in flour.
I sat in the flour with her and laughed with her. Because truly, it was funny. I somehow managed to do a preliminary cleanup and get us both in the tub. Several sweeps and a wash later, the floor still has flour on it. But I'm so glad I let this moment unfold, even if only for a couple of minutes, because it's a story that I will tell again and again, and a memory I will cherish forever.