mama scout lab e-course

Monday, August 5, 2013

{family lab} portrait

Today, we are thinking about family portraits. In your past and present, what do they mean to you? I grew up having lots of kid portraits made, but very few family portraits. That tradition is one that I sadly carry forth. We are not fans of studio portraits, and I am always the one behind the camera snapping away pictures of my kids (never my husband or me).

Are you the same? Maybe you are completely the opposite (I have friends who have family portraits done every 6 months). 

I hope no matter which end of the spectrum you are on, you will join us in the creative challenge today. It would be so fun to see all of our family portraits on Facebook throughout the day. 

Family Portrait
Carlos Drummond de Andrade
Yes, this family portrait
is a little dusty.
The father's face doesn't show
how much money he earned.

The uncles' hands don't reveal
the voyages both of them made.
The grandmother's smoothed and yellowed;
she's forgotten the monarchy.

The children, how they've changed.
Peter's face is tranquil,
that wore the best dreams.
And John's no longer a liar.

The garden's become fantastic.
The flowers are gray badges.
And the sand, beneath dead feet,
is an ocean of fog.

In the semicircle of armchairs
a certain movement is noticed.
The children are changing places,
but noiselessly! it's a picture.

Twenty years is a long time.
It can form any image.
If one face starts to wither,
another presents itself, smiling.

All these seated strangers,
my relations? I don't believe it.
They're guests amusing themselves
in a rarely-opened parlor.

Family features remain
lost in the play of bodies.
But there's enough to suggest
that a body is full of surprises.

The frame of this family portrait
holds its personages in vain.
They're there voluntarily,
they'd know how — if need be — to fly.

They could refine themselves
in the room's chiaroscuro,
live inside the furniture
or the pockets of old waistcoats.

The house has many drawers,
papers, long staircases.
When matter becomes annoyed,
who knows the malice of things?

The portrait does not reply,
it stares; in my dusty eyes
it contemplates itself.
The living and dead relations

multiply in the glass.
I don't distinguish those
that went away from those
that stay. I only perceive
the strange idea of family

traveling through the flesh.

(trans Elizabeth Bishop)

What do family photos mean to you?

Do you remember looking at them on your walls or tucked in albums?

Today, I want us to all make a family portrait.

No matter what, lets get this done.

You can go to a walk-in photo studio wearing funny sweaters or use the timer on your camera while you all climb on the swing set.

If you co-sleep, maybe take a picture as you all wake up. 

Make a family portrait that captures a glimpse of what your family is like today, this moment.

Share your photo with the Mama Scout Facebook group or in the comments. 

Please watch this video Mongolia! about the power of photography.

I love this essay about making sure that you, the mom, are in the picture. 


Check out my Book About Me lab here

You seriously need to be a part of it. 

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