I’ve kept my camera by my side like another set of eyes, just wanting to hold onto every surreal-yet-normal moment

My first thought, when writing this piece for JUNO Magazine, was to talk about my approach to the family photography I do, and the buzz I get when I know I’m going to peek into a new home and get to connect, observe and tell an honest story for that family on that given day. But it’s evolved, straight into a circle back to my own family.

Family photojournalism or family storytelling (to give it a genre) is thankfully treading the boards of
its own stage in the photography world, alongside stunningly crafted portraits and outdoor
beautifully golden-hour lit lifestyle photo-shoots, and I couldn’t be happier. To be given the
opportunity to engage and record a time in a family’s history that is incredibly real and feeling for
decades to come, quite seriously is the only way for me. Whether it’s photographing the flung
pieces of mashed avocado at meal times, or a heartfelt sorry-cuddle after a sibling stand-off. It’s
these genuine connections and those quiet in-between moments that you rarely get to see unless
you really look, or more importantly we will all need reminding of in time to come. The honestly
told day-in-the-life family album.

I was blessed to spend two different days with two different families earlier this year. They each
epitomised every reason why I approach this type of storytelling. However, both came with a
personal challenge to me. Neither wanted photographs to be shared online in my portfolio for a
variety of valid reasons which I completely respect. Nonetheless, as I sat quietly in a corner of their
rooms watching and photographing them, I couldn’t help but feel my heart sink a little as I clicked
away at some beautifully real moments I knew I would never share with the world. Having said this,
the trust and connections I form with my families mean the most and it’s this that grounds me, I’m
photographing for their family’s future generations, not mine.

Then came a pandemic to slow down life, and enable me to fully turn the camera onto my own
family. It’s no lie that the past few months were hectic leading up to it and

I realised in a heartbeat that I needed to learn to stand still with them all over again.

It honestly felt that our home transformed overnight into a dance studio, classroom, canteen and
cinema. The existing daily vision of a vintage motorbike being built in our family room over winter
and spring, suddenly erupted into a more permanent and expanding longer-term project. We found
our rhythm and it was in our own chaotically effortless way.

Aided by the steady flow of goodness and innovation that began to flow from so many
communities, offering creative and physical support both locally and online. So we flowed ourselves, into our own version of classroom learning. Using our newly plastered stair wall as a timeline for daily questions such as, ‘who was Emmeline Pankhurst?’ and ‘what’s the difference between an asteroid and a comet?’

The usual smartphone and laptop time limit dissipated as
maintaining lost play dates and sleepovers, along with having birthday celebrations through these
devices became a truly lovely and crucial alternative to stay connected with others.
We took to the streets with chalk messages… well wishes to neighbours, love and thanks to
healthcare and key workers. We have felt the sweet moments of giving virtual hugs to friends from
across the road as they scootered by. We drop food bags at grandparents’ doors while waving all
the love we can to them at two metres apart. These are times mixed with some laughter, mindful of
our own needed space and the odd sneaky tear or two. I’ve kept my camera by my side like
another set of eyes, just wanting to hold onto every surreal-yet-normal moment.

Then comes that personal challenge again, this time from my 13-year-old. As I rightly need to get
permission from her for every photograph I want to use. Déjà Vu. Investing in lengthy verbal battles
to explain this is all for family album, particularly in these exceptional times. I won’t continue with

how some days it works, how other days there’s an outright “no” to taking her photograph… these
are the days are resigned to still life and self-portraiture! So it’s that fine balance of respecting her
wishes, without question, to me pleading with her for the sake of her very own family album to look
at in decades to come.

There has definitely been a strong yearning to record the gentle and honest moments of my own family during this compulsory downshift to family life. Which I find incredibly poignant as it is exactly what I strive to do with other families when I’m invited into their homes.

But right now, aside from keeping my family loved, fed and safe, I know I will look back with some gratitude on the days I got to stand still and explore my own home.