There’s a bright, shiny new year ahead of us. A blank page full of stories waiting to be told.
As a photographer there are many photo challenges or projects that pop up in the photography world to preserve our stories (especially with the start of a new year) … it can be inspiring or overwhelming to jump on the bandwagon. I’ve always fallen somewhere in between. I admire anyone who completes a 365 project (taking a photo a day for an entire year). For ages I had been telling myself I will complete at least a 52 week project of some sort, but by March it would start feeling like more of a task than anything else.
That was until last year when a talented group of amazing moms/photographers from a Facebook group wanted to take our personal photography to the next level by sharing it on a weekly basis. We are all alumni of Molly Flanagan’s Visual Storytelling course at The Define School and despite being from all corners of the globe, we connected as mothers and storytellers. Sham of the Perfect is all about documenting the reality of motherhood and family life — not the perfectly posed, polished images that bombard our social media feeds or seen on the pages of magazines.
The truth is that there is always beauty in the mundane and so many moments in our ordinary lives that deserve to be photographed (especially as we are raising our families). That is the backbone of the SOTP project. We made it our mission to tear down the sham of perfection.
It hasn’t been easy. Some weeks I really struggled to make images that jumped off the screen at me and sparked a little something in my heart. My boys are all getting older, most of the group have adorable littles who do all kinds of sham-worthy activity on a daily basis. I remember those days well and when you’re a mother who is also a photographer, those types of moments with small children appear before you lens more times in any given day than you can count. With a pair of pre-teens in the mix, I knew it would be a challenge to keep it fresh and interesting (especially when my kids are in school all week). The truth is that some weeks were less than interesting. Without this project, I would have just kept the camera on my desk. I need that little push of the SOTP to embrace the flaws and be patient. Be patient with myself. Be patient with my kids. Isn’t that what motherhood is all about?
There is no hiding that my perspective of motherhood is much different than the moms with preschoolers. You won’t see little people in diapers here. Kids don’t crawl in our bed in the middle of the night anymore. Sippy cups are long gone. Bathtub time has evolved to quick showers (by themselves). Little People toys have been replaced with Lego (hundreds and hundreds of tiny pieces of Lego).
Here you will see that we spend a lot of time outdoors with these dudes (most of it is in our yard or their grandfather’s property behind our house).
In the snow or in the muck, these kids love to play and they play hard. They do their homework at the dinner table. Our family can travel easily and we love to go on adventures. We enjoy spending time with our family and friends. And my youngest seems to eat a lot of treats!
Above all, you see brothers just simply being brothers. That’s what I see every day. And that’s the part that makes me excited and honoured to be involved with the project for another year.
Now that I look back at this collection, my 52 weeks of sham-ing, my version of motherhood is pretty cool. And the weeks when I thought “there’s nothing to document because I have older kids,” the truth was that I just wasn’t looking hard enough. There’s always something unexpected and wonderful happening as my little boys quickly turn into young men.
None of this would have happened without the dedication of our Sham matriarchs — Lacey Monroe, Natasha Kelly and Erika Roa have kept the group ticking along like a well-oiled machine all year. They’re the gals behind the scenes creating the posts and organizing everything for all of us. They all have little people (of the short, super cute variety) in their lives to take care of, photography businesses to manage and this project was a huge undertaking. It all started with a little idea to put our skills to work and the community has grown larger than anyone ever expected. Congratulations, girls!
The Sham of the Perfect is an international collective that can be followed on our Website, Facebook and Instagram. I will be moderating the Instagram feed later on this year, so please be sure to follow us and participate with your own Family Documentary photos!