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April DITL

Right now I’m taking a documentary photography workshop over on Clickin Moms. This means I’m temporarily giving up my little tips and tricks for getting reactions or sparking moments and just sitting back to watch and let the world unfold as it will.

I’m not a total stranger to the documentary approach.  In my daily work I tweak more than I fully direct, but there are little ways I notice now, more than ever, in which I influence the scenes.  I don’t know that I will entirely give that up, but I love that learning to watch and wait is stretching me a bit and improving my ability to see what’s there in front of me, unfiltered.

For part of this assignment, I had to shoot a day in the life.  Our life as it is, right now.  And right now, good or bad, a lot of our life revolves around SJ. Her personality is bigger than life. She’s the kid who is home, day in, day out, so it felt only appropriate to choose a day that the boys were in school.  A “no boy day” as we call it.

Our lives aren’t just about her, but she does dominate the show just a bit.

I thought I picked a quiet day–but somehow it got very full. Dance, a building project, a new table to put together, drawing in the living room on the old table. A rough day at work plus available styrofoam led to an epic foam crushing frustration-buster (and cleanup.)  And of course, there were books. And taxes. And trips out after bedtime to discuss nightmares and general lack of tiredness.

Maybe not such an unusual day after all.

So here we are–in our unfiltered, unmanaged glory, on a dismal, gray day with my just-figuring-it-out documentary skills.  I hope you enjoy, or are at least entertained.



Carrie - April 16, 2016 - 10:48 pm

Sooooo good! You can come shoot a DITL for me!

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As you were

There’s a mouse in my china hutch.  He’s been there quite a while.  Just standing there, alongside my mother’s china.





WHY?  Because one day, I sat down to paint ceramic mice with my children, and when we were done, and the mice were dry, it seemed a safe place to stash them, just for the moment (though it was a little late for “safe” since one was already broken.)

Broken mice live in my china cabinet.

Broken, PEELING mice live in my china cabinet.  

Why peeling?

Because one day, I stumbled upon them, under the bed, where I had stashed them until the kids were old enough. And forgot them. And then found them, (the mice,) and, with a shake of my head and a laugh, declared that they were (old enough, that is, the kids.)

Only the ceramic paint was all dried out because it took the kids so long to get big enough. So we used other paint. Inappropriate paint.  And it peeled.

And every so often, I glance up and see that I have mice living in my china hutch. Broken, peeling mice, with inappropriate paint, marching in place next to the creamer pot.


And I shake my head, and go back to what I was doing.




And every so often, at 3:15 in the afternoon, I find socks and cheerios and overflowing art supplies under the dining room table. Except maybe nobody had cheerios that day.


And I can’t find my coffee cup until the post-night-shift-breakfast-in-the-afternoon light reveals its hiding spot, behind the blinds.

And I wished I owned stock in Kleenex with all the nose-blowing going on and yes, that damn box deserves the magical light!  

And one day, my hand reaches out to sweep up the pile on my four-year old’s window-sill just before it resolves itself into poetry, crayons, and bandaids, and earns a reprieve while I grab the camera.   


Still life, in four year old. Soon to be swept up, stirred up, and redistributed in a meandering pathways until they find a long-term resting place.  

Like the mice.

I used to think photography was all about taking the picture.  But the more I learn, the more I think it’s about seeing the image in the first place. And the more I appreciate those who can make me see what is already there–especially if it’s mundane.

And I used to think life was more about the big moments and the next thing.  But the more I learn, the more I think it’s mostly dirty socks and cheerios under the table at 3:15 and ecclectic piles of life all over the place.  Or more to the point, finding the good stuff IN that mundane stuff. 

(I’m almost forty you know, I get to say navel-gazing shit like this now.)

So, a new project. One that’s all about my people, even though they won’t appear.  The rules are pretty simple.   No people.  Strictly documentary–no moving stuff around or making up scenes.  But somehow, I don’t think I’ll need to.   

The purpose of this project is to document the little, bizarre, incongruous, ridiculous tableaux that fill our lives. The ones that somehow transcend the visual background noise long enough to make me take notice, and shake my head at their absurdity, or beauty, or relevance for some small moment, before returning to my path.

Some may only be relevant to me, others more universal, but I hope a few make you stop and chuckle, or look a little closer to see what on earth that is, or shake your head before you scroll on.



As you were.

celeste pavlik - February 27, 2016 - 4:07 pm

ah, what a breath of freshness Jen, I love this and excited to follow your documentation of mundane in your home!

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October 15 on the 15th

A too-bright morning, a not-so-cooperative girl, a field, and two lenses.

Little miss and I headed out for a little shoot at a nearby field.   I think the one of her shoving the parasol handle down her shirt is my favorite. At the end of the day, she was well compensated. 🙂
When you’re done, head on over to see Angela’s gorgeous work!



A switch to the fisheye for a little fun gives a totally different look.




Laura - October 16, 2015 - 10:05 pm

So awesome to finally see them all!

Jill - October 16, 2015 - 10:23 pm

Beautiful shots!!!! I love the last one too….her reward for cooperating I guess 😉

Angela - October 17, 2015 - 1:27 am

These are so great and beautiful! I love the crisp shadows in the umbrella. So great! Treat deserved – she did amazing!

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