muddy puddles - storytelling photography

dirt - rain - mud - rainbow - and a frog

I get so wrapped up in telling other families' stories through photographs that I often forget to document my own. I used to scrapbook... a bit obsessively. Before grad school. Before kids. Things have changed, but my camera is still very much a part of who I am and how I preserve my family's memories. Not as much as I would like to though.

There is a phase both of my children have gone through - and it starts as soon as they can sit - that my camera becomes a coveted item that collects tiny fingerprints and causes tantrums. So my camera normally sits safely in it's cozy bag where it sleeps until I bring it out to capture more stories. Just usually not my own.

Every once in a while I do bring it out. I collect a few memories. And then they sit, unedited, as RAW files on my computer.

So when Marie's Save a Story Initiative came up in my email one day, I knew I had to participate.

The objective was to collect a memory. It could be just one photograph or a story through photographs. It didn't have to be epic, but it had to be real. This speaks to my heart since it is how I feel when I document for my clients. I seek the connections and moments that, when I deliver those images to my clients, they know they have a REAL memory that they connect with. Documented and made into art. Something they can look at, hold, and reflect upon.

I was in. Sooooooo in.

After amping up the participants with worksheets, tips, and excitement our goal was to shoot on Sunday (Father's Day). I had planned on capturing BBQ time, which has become a treasure for all of us. We spend more time outdoors since we got it. And everyone is happier on BBQ nights.

But we didn't get to BBQ due to rain. It had been raining off and on for two weeks straight so we weren't put off by it. We still had a lot of outdoor fun, despite the weather.

muddy puddles - save a story initiative - ebb and flow photography

The kids like to "play construction" in the sadly unplanted dirt patch in our front yard. We've been here for 2.5 years and I just haven't invested even in the thought of planting.  We are renting while we look for a house to buy. And when I buy plants I go all out, so I feel like I'm saving money for my real garden, if that makes any sense. But the kids love the dirt patch and nobody else seems to mind.

I wanted to capture their "construction site garden" because I know, like all things, they won't be into it forever but it is the highlight of their days right now.

I hardly snapped off a few photos when that grey cloud we were watching decided to open up on us.

muddy puddles - save a story initiative - ebb and flow photography
muddy puddles - save a story initiative - ebb and flow photography

Normally I'd be like, time to get inside! But they were already dirty so what harm would a little rain do? They played in the rain - a real treat since we often have thunderstorms and have to stay under cover -  and they sloshed in the mud. My 3.5 yo in boxers and my 18 mo in her diaper, in the front yard where everyone could see. Are we the talk of our predominantly elderly community now? Maybe, but I'd like to think it is because my children bring them joy when they are out playing in the front yard. They can come play in our muddy puddle too, if they want. :)

muddy puddles - save a story initiative - ebb and flow photography

The "construction site" quickly filled with water from the cleverly directed downspout off our roof.

muddy puddles - save a story initiative - ebb and flow photography

And the puddles quickly became a lake.

T had just watched a show that talked about the properties of mud and was playing with the consistency. Wet, sticky, mushy... he was enthralled.

Em is really into taking our seltzers from us right now so she was carrying one around while she played.

muddy puddles - save a story initiative - ebb and flow photography
muddy puddles - save a story initiative - ebb and flow photography

Mist in her hair, splashes and rings in the water. These are images I don't normally get to capture. My camera stayed safe, carefully covered under the patio awning.

muddy puddles - save a story initiative - ebb and flow photography

Em is trying to collect rain in her little bucket. It's her favorite thing to do at bathtime; collect water in toys while the tub fills. She doesn't know she'd have to wait there all day to fill it, but that doesn't bother her.

The entire time this is happening a male british voice is narrating the phrase, "Peppa and George like to play in muddy puddles" over and over again.

muddy puddles - save a story initiative - ebb and flow photography

Now, a sunshower.

muddy puddles - save a story initiative - ebb and flow photography

And like that, the rain turned to drizzle, and fizzled into mist.

But not without a show.

muddy puddles - save a story initiative - ebb and flow photography

The sun had peeked out from behind the grey cloud and so I turned my back to it, as I always do in these circumstances, to see if a rainbow had formed. I would seriously love to make a job out of being a rainbow hunter. Is that a thing?

muddy puddles - save a story initiative - ebb and flow photography

Happy, wet toddlers. Sloshing, splashing, scooping, pouring. PLAYING OUTSIDE.

I am really looking forward to the backyard of our new home when we find it. They will get to do stuff like this all the time. When they are frustrated or bouncing off the walls I'll be able to open the back door and say, go! Get dirty! Have fun! This is what I want for my children.

For now, we have our little patch of dirt. And frogs. And we find rainbows in the storms. These are the happy memories they will hold with them.

muddy puddles - save a story initiative - ebb and flow photography

My next step is to print my story... more to come on that later!