why I photograph childhood

 little Michelle, circa 1994

little Michelle, circa 1994

When I was a kid, I was hyper aware of growing up. I dreaded it. I loved childhood. I was so in tune with the fact that it was fleeting and that my life would not always allow me to run and play whenever I wanted, that my imagination would never be quite what it was then, that circumstances and responsibilities change as time passes. I used to get sad about my peers being in a hurry to grow up, thinking “you have the rest of your life to be grown up!” 

This feeling never went away. I’ve struggled with my Peter Pan complex so much. How do I keep the things I love so much about childhood in my adult life? How do I hold on to the sense of freedom and innocence of childhood amidst responsibility and awareness of horrible things in the world and the tendency of humans to over-complicate life? 

 baby Lauren, 2010.

baby Lauren, 2010.

I have been drawn to babies and little kids since I WAS a little kid. I started working with kids when I was 15, because it was the most natural thing in the world for me. I never stopped. I took on part-time nanny work at 18 and I still do it to this day because it fills me up so full of love that I could explode. It wasn’t far into my nanny years that I started picking up a camera for a different reason than I ever had before: to freeze the tiny little things that the kids I loved did so that I wouldn’t forget. The kids all grew so fast that week to week, everything was constantly different. So many of the moments I was inspired by were truly split-seconds that weren’t repeated, or they only happened for a few weeks and then they were gone. Sometimes I look back at the photos I took and I can see things that the same kids still do years later, and I LOVE that. 

 toddler Lauren, 2011.

toddler Lauren, 2011.

I fell in love with all of it. I fell in love with using my camera to make visual art from the moments that whisper quietly: this is childhood. The sense of wonder and the natural tendency to just BE. I fell in love with watching and playing and non-verbally training the kids to ignore my camera and just play with me. Childhood lifestyle photography. I just speak the language of it. 

  Andrew & Lauren, 2011.

Andrew & Lauren, 2011.

I’m sharing this because I want to share my heart and my perspective and what I love to do. And partly because I want to encourage people to slow down. To look at little things and let those things fill them up. Sometimes I’m so full of words and stories and emotions that I don’t even know where to start sharing because the attention span of social media doesn’t have a great reputation. 

I want to be there for your family. For this moment. Because it’s not going to be exactly like this again. I want you to remember how it all felt: the snuggles and the giggles and the personalities and the emotional drama of a toddler melt-down and the tiny-ness of them and all the love. It all moves so fast and I know that life is so busy, and to me that makes it even more important to somehow preserve it. To me, life and love are art, and I just want to create as much art as possible. 

 me & Declan, 2015.

me & Declan, 2015.

xo, Michelle

Follow me @maryandluna on your favorite social media: InstagramTwitterFacebook.
See my art in
my Etsy shop or on maryandluna.com

if you’re interested in a session with me for you and/or your kids in Orange County, CA, visit my website or email me! maryandluna@gmail.com