There's a story in that clutter: why you can skip cleaning before your in-home photo session

Confession: my house is almost always a mess. 

It's not that I like it that way or that I don't care about it.  It comes down to three simple facts:

1) I want my children to have access to lots of materials with which they can create.

2) I knowingly married someone who does not care for cleaning, picking up, or organizing, nor does it irk him if things around him are in disarray.


 3) There are only so many hours in a day and I chose to spend them doing other things like preparing meals, tending to my children, and making pictures of real life.

Most of the time my house isn't dirty, per se, just cluttered.  There's stuff scattered all about, and, at times when I do pick up, I just feel like a sherpa, schlepping junk from one room to the next.  So, in general, I try to make peace with the clutter.  But trust me: it's an ongoing struggle.

When I started to offer in-home photography, many of my mom friends with similar views on tidying their homes, commented on how this kind of photo session would mean so much preparation.  They, of course, would have to clean their entire home before a photographer was allowed in it.

Here's the thing.  I'm a mom with little kids.  I'm all about letting kids be kids.  I'm learning, sometimes painfully, that picking up each piece of lint from the carpet in between vacuuming like my father taught me isn't necessarily the best use of my time for either me or my family.  So, I would never want to add the additional stress of cleaning a house on top of a fellow parent.  

Therefore, let me dispel this nasty myth that you must have a picture-perfect house in order to have a photography session in your home. 

Hear me, mamas of the world, you do NOT have to clean for an in-home family photo session.

The truth is, most of the time, I'm working really hard to make clean compositions of you and your loved ones as you all go about whatever is that you do.  That's my job.  So, often, if there's clutter that doesn't add anything to the picture I'm trying to make, I find a way to get it out of the frame.

And, sometimes, the story is actually in the clutter.  And that's OK.  No, really.  It is.

I am capturing the essence of your family, where you are right now.  And if where you are right now includes piles of laundry and scattered toys and books, it's all a part of your story.  Don't run from that.  Here are a few stories in my clutter.

Come.  Let me share my messes with you.

Post-holiday mess

Holiday fallout lasted for almost two weeks this year.  My daughter was so into playing with her new treasures that she asked to eat breakfast in the living room most mornings.  Hence, the plate of pancakes amid the toys.


Snack mess. 

She asked me and her dad to open the chip bag about five times and we kept putting her off.  Clearly, she didn't want to wait any longer.  There are tortilla chip crumbs all over the floor by the way.


Backyard mess. 

Buckets, bowls and scoops in the sandbox-turned-mudbox from a big rain.  Personally, I like the pops of color from sand toy clutter.


Baking and general kitchen mess. 

My youngest and I made muffins.  She was proud she filled the muffin pan herself.  She got much of the batter on the floor behind the counter, which is why there is a dirty dish towel on the right.  In the background in front of the sink are several sippy cups waiting to be washed.  My girls still use sippy cups for water at night.  Part of our nightly routine includes my husband or I shouting to each other across the house "Did you make waters yet?"  Often those cups don't make it out of their rooms the next day and then we have a collection of them by the sink at the end of the week. 


After-school mess. 

My oldest gets off the bus, has a snack, and does her homework in the dining room.  This day my youngest was busy creating a card for a relative in the playroom.  Both were trying to finish quickly so they could play with the village of Polly Pockets that lay on the floor between them.  The Pollys live next door and though my neighbor has offered to us permanently, having them on loan for a week every few months is much more exciting.


Fleeting mess. 

OK, so sometimes it becomes more than I can handle.  I work better, think better, and live better when things around me are organized.  So when a space reaches my personal Defcon 1, I'm forced to take action before I get super cranky.  BUT, I know that this time is temporary, and sooner than I wish, my kids will grow up, move out, and the messes won't be a struggle.  So someday, maybe, just maybe, I'll miss all this clutter.  

And if I do, I can always go right back to it with my photos. 

The reality is if I waited until my house was completely organized to make pictures of my memories, I would never get them.   

P.S. If you happen to be a parent of little kids and can miraculously keep a clean and tidy house, don't worry.  I won't judge.  ;)

P.P.S. I'm working on a newsletter project to help free families from fake news pictures. You can sign up here.

Christine WrightComment