On a beautiful sunny winters day in Geelong, I got to hang out with the Bryant family for the afternoon capturing a film and photographs of the everyday things they wanted to remember from this time in their life.
Storytelling sessions involve a lot more than just showing up on the day.
In fact the lead up to the session is just as important as when I’m there filming.
I want to connect and get to know the family and what is special to them at this time in their lives.
Phone conversations and my family session questionnaire help me to narrow that down and I’d love to share a few of this families responses so you can understand when you watch the film just how much difference providing thoughtful answers makes to the end result.
If you were to never step foot in your home again, what are a few of the most precious memories you would take with you?
The pitterpatter of the kids running up and down our hallway.
The kids playing out the deck outside.
Smith checking the letterbox, Vogue playing with the newspapers out the front of the house.
The kids running up the street waving to people as they drive past.
The lounge room with the big tree out the window.
The afternoon light flickering in on us is really nice. It feels warm like a hug from a mum. I’ve had a few special moments with the kids like that.
Do you have a favourite room in your house? If so, what makes it special to you?
Luke- the lounge room- he loves the corner window with the light coming in.
I think the kids rooms are the most special to me. Due to memories, middle of the night cuddles and just the fact that they were made with love
especially for them. Every time we go into those rooms we usually get a nice feeling. Tucking them in at night, checking on them before we go to bed etc.
What are some key events in your life’s journey that have led to where you are today?
Luke – Doesn’t feel like its one key event. He said we treat everyone with the same respect, compassion and kindness and that has taken us to where we are today, what we’re doing and who we choose to have in our lives etc.
Shonel- My mum dying of cancer and Smith being diagnosed as autistic are the 2 biggest things for me that have shaped me.
Motherhood in general has definitely changed me for the better, but those 2 huge changing events have definitely made me empathetic in a way I could never have imagined, and have made me realise the true importance of giving.
Are there any family heirlooms/photographs/ details etc in your home that hold great importance to you?
Persian rugs feel like they will be a big place in our lives forever. I’d love for the kids to take some with them when they move out. The kids are always playing on them when I hire them out for work etc.
The phonograph on the dining table is identical to one my mum is listening to in a picture I have tattooed on me.
Describe each of your children’s personalities and what makes them unique.
Smith comes across as shy but has this hidden confidence and playful side.
He is a sensitive soul, very loving and open.
He’s very artistic and loves drawing. He tells you what his drawings are with such conviction.
Vogue is a carer, she’s always making sure everyone is looked after, and she just has a very fun nature. She loves laughing and playing with Smith so much.
She generally just a really happy and playful girl and she loves helping. Doing the shopping, the cooking, the dishes, vacuuming.
She’s more noticeably confident than smith- not as shy with other people around.
What are some of your favourite moments to share with your children, individually and/or together?
Drawing with Smith and hearing and seeing how he perceives the world.
Tickles are always a fav. That intense laugh is a sound we crave and I feel like they must get so over me pinning them down and tickling them all day long. Poor buggers.
Cooking Vegan food together.
Do your children have any favourite toys/games/rituals at the moment?
Vogue has her ‘bun bun’ ( bunny ) family. Bun bun has been her comforter forever and we’ve lost so many of them we’ve bought that
many over the years that we now have a huge collection of them.
She loves them so much sometimes she will walk out cuddling a whole armful of them.
Smith loves checking the letterbox- it causes many arguments if Vogue gets to check it first. Smith loves reading ‘Where’s Wally’ and drawing.
They both love crystals, sometimes when they are feeling sad they are allowed to pick a crystal from the cabinet to help make them feel better.
What quirky habits do your children have that you would like to remember?
Smith flaps his hands around and sometimes twirls his hair with his fingers. His hands are something that generally need to keep busy and I’d
love to get that captured. He often pulls vogues hair or grabs her as she walks past ( its almost an obsession to touch- maybe sensory based- not sure).
Please describe a little about your relationship. It’s important for me to seek to create an image that represents who you are as a couple during our session.
For example, you could describe little things you love about one another, how you met, how your relationship has changed since becoming parents etc.
We both love that we see the world in a very similar way, we generally see eye to eye on most things and certainly the bigger things in life.
We are definitely a good team at working through things we do things well together. We have always had our morals and life values in check and over time
they have just gotten more and more in line as life has gone on. When we had broken up we both couldn’t shake the though of each other, there was
something pulling us back together and we feel it was these big morals and the fact that we are both very kind caring people.
We feel like where we are at in our lives now, we are headed down the right life path for us.
We both want a simple life, on lots of land, self sufficiency, to grow our own veggies and
cook healthy vegan food, have the kids more amongst nature and to live off our land.
This was a volunteer session for SPECTRUM INSPIRED
a global community that connects, supports and uplifts individuals and families touched by Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Educating the general public using Lifestyle Photography to document a diverse group of children on the spectrum
and their families across the globe in effort to normalize and destigmatize ASD.
It is their mission to give families a platform to voice their struggles, celebrate their victories and share their story,
all the while, removing the stigma and stereotypes of what is thought to be representative of
Autism and show the world just how broad and beautiful the spectrum is.
If you are a family touched by Autism, or a Photographer wanting to volunteer your time you can find more information and apply here >> https://spectruminspired.org/