Film

There is a reason they are called "great" grandparents

Song credit: “Best of All Our Days” by Andrew Simple

David’s Story
Generational sessions are so powerful. There is so much beauty in the varied relationships between little ones and their parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents. Each one holds such a unique bond and energy that is not had anywhere else. Lately in Family Stories sessions I have been really encouraging the inclusion of extended family in sessions and my husband, David, mentioned something one day about how much it hurts him to watch these generations together when his own is incomplete. His mom passed away in 2013. Not a day goes by that the emptiness from her absence is not noticed. He wanted a generational session but he wanted her to be part of it.

When we talked about going to his grandparents’ house to capture their story, we wanted to capture two important perspectives: what Grampa’s normal day-to-day routine was like (he loves his coffee cake muffins with “reduced” sugar) and how David appreciated them for the impact they have had on the lives around them. There was one more piece I knew I had to fit in: his mom needed to be part of it somehow.

Our daughter was getting crabby at nap time so he bounced her around in the living room until she dozed off in her favorite place to be – in Daddy’s arms. He got comfy on the couch, and if you’ve ever had a sleeping baby on you know that is nearly impossible to stay awake. As their breathing slowed and they melted into each other, I looked above the couch they were resting on and saw the pictures of family members surrounding them on the walls. In the same room, Grammi had a shelf to commemorate David’s mom. And as he laid there embracing his precious baby girl, I saw the tattoo of his mom’s face looking up at him in pride the same exact way she did on our wedding day. I felt all of that love and interconnectedness of loved ones embracing them in that moment.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with the title of the blog. I want to start with a short story. When we announced our first pregnancy, we gave a gift to Grammi at Christmas that was a picture of a bear with the caption “Beary Special Great Grandmother.” She smiled and said thank you and was about to move on without even realizing what it said. Looking back, she said she just thought it was saying she is a phenomenal grandmother. That stuck with me, both as a wonderful memory that makes me smile and a much deeper insight into what it is to be a great grandparent. I cannot do justice to the story that David tells in his own words through this story so I will take a piece from his narration:

“You continue to teach us all so much in the way you look with love at the lives you helped create. Through the love, through the loss, your simple and graceful ways carry the memories of this family. Time passes and pictures fade but your love endures forever.”


That first haircut makes a momma's heart ache

Caleb’s Story

I didn’t want to trim off his precious baby curls for fear that they might never grow back, but it was getting to the point that his hair was in knots every day and I had to give in. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. This was shortly after taking my first course in filmmaking. I put my camera between me and my baby to keep the tears at bay, giving me a job to focus on (at least until after we were done). This was filmed while I was still pregnant with our youngest. In typical middle-child-fashion I didn’t get around to finishing the film for him. Recently we have been struggling with communicating with him. He gets so frustrated when we can’t understand him. There are times it seems he is expected to grow up faster than he should because his baby sister needs so much from me. One night I sat in the stillness of the house after the kids went to sleep and paused. This was important to finish – for him, for me, for our family. A reminder that life goes by too quickly to put memories on the back-burner. All it took was a few hours to finish, and now we have this treasure for a lifetime.

“This hair that once grew while you were nestled in my belly feels like the last piece of me that is connected to you. With every curl that falls to the floor, I’m reminded how quickly you’ve grown into an independent little human.”


The first Family Stories film

Song credit: “Stars In June” by Emorie

I got a call from a father who wanted to gift a session to his wife for her birthday…the next day. She had been wanting family pictures since the birth of their first daughter. A couple months quickly slipped away without finding the time for it. He wanted to surprise her with family pictures. I was excited to help give this mom a gift that I knew she would cherish forever, but I was a little nervous to take the session. My daughter was only 6 weeks old and I had to travel 2 hours to get their house, which meant that she had to come with me. I had barely been out of the house at that point while focusing on adjusting to a caring for our now family of five. Family Stories was still a brand new concept that I had only practiced with my family and one friend so I wasn’t even sure how this would go in a client’s home.  I stepped out of my comfort zone with the decision to make it happen even with all the barriers that I saw standing in my way and I am forever thankful that I did.

Because this was a surprise and so last minute, we had to condense the Family Stories process into a single day. First we sat down for the scriptwriting. I asked them a handful of questions to find out what they want to remember about their home, their daughter, and their relationship together. Their warmth, sincerity, and openness brought me so much comfort. Their sister was visiting from across the country. When she wasn’t in the frame, she was holding my daughter for me. Without her, I would have been babywearing, which makes it pretty difficult to move around while filming.

I’m forever grateful that this family welcomed me into their home. This was the first time that I was able to bring to life my concept of putting storytelling first and foremost in the creative process. When I showed them the film for the first time at their Reveal, their tears told me that this is what I was meant to do. Through Family Stories I am able to help people preserve memories in a way that our brains alone cannot process. This stage of caring for a newborn became tangible, visceral, and readily available to relive no matter what is going on in life or how much time passes.

Their love for this beautiful girl is so massive that it can feel nearly impossible to put into words. For these moments, the wise words of Dr. Suess are the perfect fit for the love that this mom and dad pour into this beautiful soul just starting out in life. “Will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)”

From the day they were created, we wonder who our children will become

Even when she is still a tiny little bundle of poop, puke, and pee parents will look into her tiny eyes and imagine what big things this itty bitty human will do in this world. They have hopes and dreams for her future. Their love for this beautiful creature is so massive that it can feel nearly impossible to put into words. For these moments, the wise words of Dr. Suess are the perfect fit for the love that this mom and dad pour into this beautiful soul just starting out in life. “Will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)”

Incorporating your favorite books into a family film

Reading to your children is an important part of everyday life while their brains and perceptions of the world around them are forming. As part of a keepsake for your family, consider incorporating reading in your film. As the years pass by, it serves as a reminder that, no matter the challenges, we wish for a world of wonder and hope for our children.


Take a glimpse into their story…