On creating art versus capturing memories

Beach Day Photos In Santa Cruz | Bay Area Family Photographer

I’ve always been a creative person – from making dress-up clothes out of mom’s leftover fabrics to waking my sleep-over friend up at 5am so that we can craft things to sell to my parents. I loved to draw, paint, create mini musicals, build. When we first moved to the US I had weekly, if not daily, DIY projects going on for my new home.

Creating has always been part of me in some capacity – and photography was no exception. I started doing women’s portraits for model portfolios, and had a lot of fun planning for their looks and making the whole vision come alive.

Ester's morning in the life session | San Jose documentary family session

But when it came to family photos, I no longer felt comfortable with staging and directing.

Family memories shouldn’t try to live up to idealized, commercial images of family life (Katie Jett Walls put this it into words so well!) – so I pivoted into documentary family photography quite quickly. Capturing real family life in an artistic way within a frame spoke to me, kind of like street photography.

Now – documentary photography is not anything like having a vision and turning it into a creation. It’s not about planning ahead, arranging the scene, posing the people. It’s about waiting, listening for, expecting and capturing the moments that happen.

The more I photograph families, the more I get familiar with the intricacies and the beauty that is family life. I’ve started to feel that I’m firstly a moment, feeling or memory chaser – and secondly an artist.

Art and memories aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive – but it is an interesting thing to ponder. Maybe I need to redefine what it means for me to be creative in the context of my family photography work.

Maybe the artist part of me is the one who is attuned to the moments and feelings, and the one who is able to hold them within a frame.

Have you ever had to redefine what being a creative means to you?

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Documentary newborn and family photographer serving San francisco Bay Area, San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, Santa Cruz and surrounding areas