If you’re anything like us things are up and down at the moment. One day home schooling is going okay and it feels like we are coping in our little bubble, the next I feel unreasonably mad at the world for all the freedoms we’ve lost and wonder how many more months it will be before I can have an hour on my own again …
Being forced to slow down has definitely made us focus on what is most important though. Our children might have been having way too much screen time but they’ve also been getting more cuddles and longer bedtime stories. We’ve spent weekends exploring our local area instead of rushing from one activity or outing to another. We’ve rediscovered some neglected board games, negotiated Zoom to keep in touch with grandparents and perfected our recipe for chocolate brownies. And while it might feel like nothing much exciting (and therefore nothing worth photographing) is happening, actually it is all these small, everyday things that matter most, global pandemic or not. We should be taking the time to observe and document all the little details that so often get overlooked in the usual hurry of day to day life – the things we will miss when our children are grown and gone.
The images below were all taken as part of a 365 project I completed in 2017, taking a photo in our kitchen every day for a year. Although life wasn’t restricted in the way it has been during lockdown, with three young children I felt like my own personal world had closed in. My days revolved around the school run, housework and the day to day miracles of keeping small people alive, and any personal dreams or aspirations were put on hold. Choosing to focus on life in only one room was a way to mirror those limitations but also to try to appreciate it. The kitchen might have been the room where I sorted endless piles of laundry and crawled around on my hands and knees to wipe up discarded food, but it was also where we ate together, tackled homework, played, snuggled, baked, cried and laughed. It was where my children would sometimes sit still in soft window light to paint or read and where they left damp footprints after playing in the garden. Picking up my camera was a way to take a deep breath and accept life as it was, rather than yearning for all that wasn’t.
You don’t need to embark on a big project to take more meaningful photographs of your life at home. Just keeping your camera handy will mean that it’s there ready when you see a moment that matters to you. Try to be creative in the way you frame these, sometimes stepping back to take in the whole scene but at others getting in close to focus on little details – a wisp of hair, tiny curled toes or fingerprints left on a window. Even if you photograph the same thing every day, such as everyone having breakfast around the dining table, the details will still change. Children have a clever knack of growing even though we might not want them to!
Most of all, think about what your children might like to remember when they recount this time to their own children and grandchildren when they ask what it was like to live through the 2020/21 pandemic. I have a funny feeling that a lot of them will still look back on it as a happy time, even though so many of the things that they enjoy have stopped. Looking at the world from a child’s point of view might help us as adults to forget the news headlines for a while too.
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