I watched Kaden ride down the berm of bark-dust, over and over again.  He would skid to the side each time he’d come to the flat ground making dust swirl around him…  so proud of his new riding skills.   I saw the photo in my head, but since he’s the one that sometimes isn’t all about the photo-taking, I told him, “Hey, buddy!  Let’s show this to Dad!  He’ll love it … I’m going to go get my camera!”

He was all about that.

So he went back up onto the long berm, I metered off of the bright bark-dust area where he kept riding through, and got ready.

And this is how he ended up.

He was fine.  No worries.

He recovered and wanted to show his wheelie skills instead…

This is how that turned out.

We gave the berm another go, and success!  This time, he didn’t topple.

Then, he was done with that game because Brothers found a lizard…

And as he started to walk away, I couldn’t help but notice how lovely the flare was off of his big, black helmet. :D

“Hey tough guy….

… I love your helmet-flare….

… and your skills on the motorcycle.  Thanks for letting me take photos of you so we could show Dad.” ;)

Photography friends, this is encouragement I give to my children often, and is a genuine reason for why I do take their photos.  It’s not just words … I often say, “Let’s show Dad,”  “Let’s show Grammie” … and it works!  They are happier to be okay with the camera when they know one of the reasons for the photos is so their favorite people can see them doing their favorite things.  ♥ 

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Last week, Matt worked six 12-hour days in a row.  Plus, he was sick.  I was sick, and so were the boys.   Oiy.  Long week …

He was working on Saturday, but by Saturday I finally felt well enough, and motivated enough, to get busy getting some things done outside.  He texted me Saturday morning and asked what I was planning spending my day doing.  I’m sure he figured I’d be editing, cleaning, putting photos into albums, etc.

I told him I was going to go up into the trees, rake piles of fallen limbs and sticks, and burn them.

He responded, “I just cried a little.”  Tears of joy and likely bewilderment, my friends.

The boys and I got ready for working outside, and evidently, grey shirts, black boots, and gloves in the back pocket were part of the uniform.

They brought the tools…

… got to work.  This is familiar territory for them.

And I photographed them until it was brought to my attention that this job was my idea and the job would go a lot faster if we were all working together.  All said in a very sweet, kind-of-kidding, pretty-much-serious, way.  ;)

I wished I could have photographed them a lot more, in all their adorable-working-hard-glory, but of course, I had to put the camera away.   I was running the show, after-all.   Sticks needed piling, piles needed burning, boys needed instructing.  I LOVE this chore (it’s like vacuuming on steroids!).

And with that, I may have lost what little bit of the city-girl I had left in me.   Especially because on Sunday, I went back for more.   My husband has never been so proud. :D


Photography friends … once I was done taking a few shots and needed to put my camera away, I just tucked it away in my Lowepro SlingShot bag and nestled it by a tree.  Kind of near where we were working, but not too close.  Handy, for sure!

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  • Mom - LOL….just before you admitted that you needed to put your camera down, I was thinking to myself that your hands were on your camera – not on a rake! Too funny. Also, I remember back when you were in high school and SO embarrassed to bring a wheelbarrow full of wood to the front door. “None of my friends have to haul wood!!!” :)
    XO to my country girl
    XOXOXO to GCK from GrammieReplyCancel

My littlest guy, whom we affectionately call all sorts of nicknames from Tadey-tade to Nugget to … for some reason, even …. ‘Guy’ … has started preschool.  I know that it would be natural for me to say “I can’t believe my baby is in preschool!”  We all seem to look on in disbelief to each milestone our kiddos hit.   And if I did let myself, I am sure I could let the emotions flood in and I’d get all nostalgic over where the time has gone, but I’ll try to focus on the positives so I don’t get weepy.

It feels so good, to see this guy studying along side his brothers.  To see how much they inspire and influence his 4-year-old work ethic and believe it or not, how much he influences theirs!  This kid is a hard worker.  He likes to sit at the school table and work through his Get Ready For the Code book and his ‘Math’ book and it is so ridiculously cute to hear him excitedly tell his brothers what he just learned, even though they are 3 feet away from him and obviously already know.

There was a time not long ago, (okay … about 5 weeks ago) that I felt near panic attack over how I would teach all three of these boys at the same time.  I knew it could be done as most homeschoolers I know of eventually are working with multiple children.  And on top of that, I wondered how I was going to teach him his letters, numbers, reading, writing …. Silly right?  I’ve already gone through it with the other two, but I barely remember being at that point with them.

Worries are goofy, though, and get us no-where good, fast.  So like with every ‘challenging’ task I face, I go little step by little step.  Day by day with Kaden.  30-minute study-time by 30-minute study-time.  Letter by letter.  And surprise surprise, we’re doing just fine. 

Sounding out the letters … I can’t get enough of watching him do this. ;)

On an unrelated note, some of you who have followed my blog for awhile may be thinking, “Hey!  That’s where Gage sits for school!”  We are indeed sticklers with consistency for some reason, and you’re right.   That is his seat.  This, then, goes along with my previous post about Lifestyle Photography vs Documentary Photography.   I knew I wanted to photograph Tado studying, but have photographed the boys at the school-table so many times and I wanted these to just be a bit different.   I wanted him to be the focus. The soul subject of the shots.

When I noticed how pretty the light was coming in through this window (and how cool the forsythia looked through the curtain) and reflecting on the table, I went with some ‘artful manipulation’ and had him sit here instead.  Artful Manipulation is a term I learned way back in Karen Russell’s class, and it gives the photographer permission to make adjustments to the scene or where the subject is, for the sake of a better photo.  The authenticity of the activity is still there, but it is just the creative eye merging with the reality of the situation.   He just did his thing, while I played with compositions, angles, exposures (exposing for him vs exposing to keep some of the detail in the window).  He got his work done, while I both documented him, and let out some creative steam. :D

Anyway!  Tado is in preschool and he’s loving it.  It is a bit crazy to think that I started full-on into this photography journey way back when he was in the NICU, almost 5 years ago.   And now here he is writing his letters and adding, and here I am teaching photography.   I might question ‘where has the time gone’, but thankfully, I don’t have to.  I have about a zillion photos of these past 5 years to SHOW me the answer to that! ;)

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  • Mom - Oh, those sweet little lips! Soooo cute! I love the reflections – very artistic, sweetpea. I’m so excited to give GCK Grammie hugs and kisses this weekend in person! It’s been too long!!
    XOXOXO to GCK from GrammieReplyCancel

  • Mom - Just had to stop by – again – for a quick look at Tado. Ahhh…I feel much better now :)
    XO to Tades from GrammieReplyCancel

  • ClaireT - ah Lacey I am excited now – I have signed up for Karen Russell’s class which will start in Jan. The fact that you did it too gives me hope that I might learn some of what you know. (And where to get that little patch of light to follow me around everywhere ;) )ReplyCancel

Or does it even really matter? ;)  Labels can be silly, somewhat limiting things, so usually I don’t bother trying to label my type of shooting.  But at the same time, giving it the appropriate label can be helpful when we think through what we want to accomplish in our work.  In my own definitions, and in a nutshell:

Documentary:  shot without interference from the photographer and any artistic measures applied to the image are made in-camera in the form of composition, perspective and camera settings.  The image should capture life as it was naturally unfolding, whether the photographer was there or not.   To tell a story.

Lifestyle:  the photographer’s hand may gently guide or influence the scene.  She may pick up the room here and there to remove distracting items, reposition where the subject is sitting for optimum composition and use of available light,  encourage certain interactions between subjects, etc.  While still making effective judgement on her in-camera settings.  To tell a story. 

Personally, I’m not sure most ‘Lifestyle’ or ‘Documentary’ photographers are exclusively one or the other.  I sure know I’m not.  And that is where the fun, the challenge, the art, lies.

Friends, it is challenging to capture a lovely documentary photograph.  It is so much easier to orchestrate the image in a ‘lifestyle’ manor … at least it is for me.  I love this challenge.  I welcome it with open arms.  Which is good, because it is what I do most of the time.

These, for example …

The other night, while Matt took Gage (and Kaden) ‘hunting’, Cooper and I were left together.  We sat on the top step of the porch and watched the sun setting through the clouds.

I saw how the soft light embraced him, and I told him “I’ll be right back”.  I got that excited feeling in my gut, my heart, and my mind that I always get when I’m about to document something in the moment …;)  I grabbed my camera, and caught this shot.

He got nervous a second later because we began hearing whistles in the woods, not initially realizing it was Matt, Gage and Kaden sneaking up on us.   When they came into sight, he stood up, like this, so he could talk to them, and ease his nerves. ;)

The story is a little iffy here (not obviously told), so even these sort of skirt the line of if they are really labeled ‘documentary photography’, but that is when I come in and feel inclined to say that I don’t care about the label.  Hah!  But, my point is that these were taken of a scene as it naturally unfolded without me saying “Cooper, sit right here” and “Now, stand here.”

Lifestyle, on the other hand, as I mentioned on Wednesday, gives the photographer more control.  I love this, too!  This is where artistry, I believe, starts to come into my images (even though I calling my images ‘art’ always makes me twitchy!).  Documentary:  I’m photographing God’s creation being lived out.  Lifestyle:  I’m observing God’s creation and deciding how to use it to capture the images I’m envisioning and the stories I want to be sure to tell.  Real stories, remember.  I’m not talking putting your child in lovely light, strumming on a guitar, if they really don’t play the guitar.

So, I’m giving suggestions based on the images I’m envisioning.   Such as these…

Kaden came downstairs having dressed himself, wearing this hat.  We adore this hat … it’s made it’s rounds through our boys.  The light was lovely … rain was in the forecast and I knew our sunny mornings were numbered.  So, when I poured Kaden his cereal I suggested we eat outside.

Truly, truly to enjoy the gorgeous morning, but also because I knew it was a pretty way to take photos of Kaden just hanging out in his hat.

When I think about it, I’m not so much photographing in a ‘Lifestyle’ genre, but photography is just a part of my lifestyle.  It plays a part in some of the decisions I make throughout the day.  Suggesting we eat outside for the sake of photos is pretty much the same to me as suggesting Cooper sits at the bar to do his reading while I make lunch, so I can help him with a word if he needs it.

Decisions are made with a logical purpose in mind.  And deciding where a game will be played, or when a walk might take place, or what shirts will (or won’t) be purchased, or where someone will sit at the table might be, occasionally, decided upon based on mama wanting to take photos. :D

But again …  I promise you … that I’m not manufacturing activities, likes, behaviors that don’t naturally exist in our lives, just for the sake of a photo opportunity.  Promise.  Unless I’m taking portraits … and in that case, my boys don’t always stand around cuddling in over-grown grass with branching trees arching over the top of them. ;)

But, they do have breakfast together every morning, one often playing on my tablet once he’s done.  This little guy does adore this hat and we love eating outside when the weather allows.  On this morning, I just so happened to suggest we do so, with taking-photos in mind. ;)

I suppose I share this with you in case you’re feeling unsure about how much influence you should have on your ‘everyday life photos’ … letting them be totally documentary or helping them along with a little lifestyle approach.  In my opinion, BOTH are awesome, and valuable, and cherished keepsakes.  Both can be lovely and strong executions of your photography skills.  However, both should be real.  

…. You guide your photography, your photography guides you, but always, it is the story that guides it all.   That’s the dance of Documentary and Lifestyle photography.


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  • Katie - I enjoyed reading your post, Lacey! I totally agree about it being challenging to take a great documentary photograph. You make it look so easy, though, and as always, your photos are beautiful! The one where Kaden’s looking down and the sun is peeking over the top is my favorite! :)ReplyCancel

    • Lacey - Thank you so much, Katie! I really appreciate you saying that. <3 And I love that shot too, for how it highlights the hat. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Sabrina - Gorgeous love this. I’m not a photographer but I do love snapping photos of my two year old daughter. What lense did you use for these shots?ReplyCancel

    • Lacey - Hi Sabrina! I used my 35mm 1.4 for both sets. It’s pretty much been my go-to lens lately! :)ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - Lacey, your boys & your images are gorgeous! Thank you for making it so easy for me to understand Lifestyle, I’ve always wanted to do it but never knew how to get clients to be natural…does that make sense? :-)ReplyCancel

  • celebrity news - […] Documentary vs Lifestyle Photography … And My Love for … http://www.laceymeyersphotography.com/Lifestyle: the photographer's hand may gently guide or influence the scene. She may pick up the room here and there to remove distracting items, reposition where the subject is sitting for optimum composition and use of … […]ReplyCancel

I never thought, when he was a pup, that Charlie would ever understand his restriction of staying off of the carpet.  But he finally does.  ♥  It took a lot of ‘Uh-uh’s’ and ‘Nope, Charlie … get back’s’ and even laying the bar stools and chairs down to create that physical boundary, but alas.  He gets it.

Minus the little upper-lip muzzle.  He’s testing me… can you tell?


Or, maybe that is just his way to feel a little more connected to us since we were on the carpet.   He’s such a sweet puppy, that that’s probably it.

This is proof that my dog does finally mind when told to stay off the carpets.   Proof to myself so that when we ever get another puppy and wonder if we will see brighter days, I will remember.  ;)  And to any of you that may have a mischievous, unmindful puppy, a reminder that there is hope for your dog to learn to mind the boundaries as well. :)  I remember my mom saying in a sympathetic, grandmotherly way …  “Oh, but how can he know the difference between the linoleum and rug??”  

Oh, he sure can tell!   It only took about a year.   In human years.   In dog years, though, it took him entirely too long.  ;)  And then, when my children are involved, and run past him in their typical full-speed-ahead loop around the house way, he has no problem conveniently forgetting the rule.  

I sure love this pup.

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  • Mom - Oh, I just want to scratch that cute little muzzle and give him a Grammie squeeze. This post should give Auntie Christine some hope for Bailey!
    Hugs to Charlie
    XOXOXO to GCK from GrammieReplyCancel

  • Michelle Kersey - Ohhhh so cute. I giggled quite a bit.. he’s totally testing you. ;) Dogs are so funny. When we got a new couch I worried my dogs wouldn’t understand that the couldn’t get on the new couch like they did the old one. Nope. They got it within a week. No doggies on the couch. It probably helped that we kept a loveseat from the old set in another room for them to lay on. We had a similar challenge when we decided no more doggies on the bed. But, even my OLD DOG learned the new rule after a month or so.ReplyCancel