I have a love-hate relationship with my social media accounts. Social media is a necessary part of any family photographer‘s marketing strategy and it’s a way to connect with people all around the world. But social media often portrays one type of family. White, neurotypical, able-bodied, cis-gendered, heteronormative families with 2 kids (one boy and one girl, of course).
As a photographer, I sometimes get told “we don’t look like most of those families you post”. This kills me. All families are beautiful and it’s always my mission to make them feel like they are.
This year, I founded The 'Every Family is Beautiful' project to help change the narrative about what beauty looks like by offering a set number of free photo sessions to capture each family’s unique story.
We love seeing, meeting, and reading about different kinds of families. The more varied the better. But somehow when we see multiracial or biracial families like ourselves we stop, and sometimes stare, before we are ready to smile and say hello. Seeing ourselves in the families around us is an ongoing project for us. We love how the Every Family is Beautiful project helps us see our own family smiling away in the beautiful array of families around us.
We have been blessed with many wonderful and kind friends and family, who love and support us for who we are, however, there have been times where it feels like people look at me with my most beautiful child, and they don't understand how she is the best part of me, that having a life with her has been the greatest gift of my life. Being a different kind of family has social challenges that I never imagined, that have impacted my daughter as well as me. For my daughter, having the two of us acknowledged as a family in a bigger way has been incredibly meaningful for her, particularly as we stand with other families who are like us in some ways, and who are our new extended family whom we love.
When the amazing @jayemcl reached out to me to ask if my family would like to take part in her 10th anniversary website re-do to promote diversity, I said Yes of course! I have to say how happy we are that we said yes to this project! @jayemcl was amazing with capturing the essence of my family just the way we are, the way we exist. You captured our joy and silliness. We never take ourselves too seriously in our house hold and you were able to capture all of that. ... To diversity and inclusion. The world has many different blends of families and we are proud to be one of them.
My eldest was four years old when she innocently asked, "Why do people stare at us? Should I say hello when they do?" I've always loved how observant and curious children are, but there are some questions that - well, they can break your heart. When you have a child or children with a disability, you spend a lot of time educating those around them so your child can be successful in participating in community activities they want to be part of and love. You want them to feel included and accepted. You want them to have friends. You want them to be seen not as "special" but simply as themselves. And, you hope that the more you put yourself out there - the more they put themselves out there- society will begin to change so that people no longer stare at the walking aide but only see the smiling child waving hello.
"Blended families are definitely tough! Two parents, with 2 different mindsets - challenges of raising the kids, for sure.
What makes us unique? Hmm....besides having 2 moms in one house?! That's a challenge within itself - that's a lot of female brain management! One thing we try to foster is the two types of relationships that are here - the relationship between my wife and I - we always make sure to have time for just us; and our family relationship - making time to spend together, all of us. We try and support each other and our goals - but we definitely have challenges!"
We are now Multigenerational Living with my parents. ‘Nana’ and ‘Papa’ live above our garage, in an in-law apartment. While there’s certainly been a learning curve to sharing an address, (especially with a neurodiverse kid) they are a special part of our lives and we wouldn’t have it any other way! We are honored to have been given the opportunity to document this time in our lives, and these special relationships.
“I’m a single mom by choice. I used a sperm donor to have my son Flynn. I always knew I wanted to be a mom, and when I never found that special person to share my life with, I knew it was time to take matters into my own hands. It was the best decision I ever made. Flynn is my reason for being; he’s a joy to be around and has the kindest heart. Everyone who meets him loves him. I also think we should showcase atypical families so that they become the norm and not the exception.”
In 2021, let's celebrate what makes YOUR family beautiful. If this project resonates with you and your family, I want to hear your story. Family sessions will take place outdoors in Framingham, Massachusetts and last 30-45 minutes. Sessions will take place around sunset or sunrise for best light. To apply, please click the button below: