As a documentary family photography (and family historian extraordinaire), I take pictures as often as I can of my children and family.

One thing that I have learned in all this documenting is that you never know when it's going to be the last time that you (or your children) do something. You never know when it will be the last time that your child crawls, the last time that you carry your child up to their bed because they fell asleep during movie night next to you on the couch, the last time that she screams, "airplane!" with delight as she looks up to the sky at the passing plane. I don't mean this in a morbid way, although it holds true for that, too. I notice all the time, especially now that my children are out of the baby and preschool days, that they just don't do certain things anymore. Things that I loved and things that I remember fondly - from small gestures to some of the bigger things that I mentioned above. 

It's so important to document the big things and the little things while you can.

We have a family tradition of picking pumpkins together at a local pumpkin patch or farm stand every fall. We don't always go to the corn mazes or play at the farms with tons of activities, but we always go out for pumpkins. When the kids were little, I would buy them a cute Halloween shirt for them to wear throughout the fall season, but let's be honest it was mostly to wear for this traditional trip out for pumpkins.

We've done this every year for over 8 years. I thought this year would be our last chance to do this as a family since I now have a middle schooler. (I'm certain there is nothing less cool or fun that going to a pumpkin patch when you are 11 - at least for my son). It turns out, we probably should've have gone to a fancy farm last year because it didn't turn out so well for us this year. Let me tell you briefly about our trip...

 It was a gorgeous weekend in the Triangle. Perfect for a family trip to the pumpkin patch.

We were headed to Hill Ridge Farms, but because of a couple bad accidents and some major traffic on Capital Boulevard we never made it. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. It took a lot of effort to get my oldest child on board with going in the first place. He protested from the start and was absolutely against coming with us. As he is only 11, he really didn't have a choice, though. It was battle we had won, for now. (I didn't even attempt to get anyone to wear any special shirts - I don't even buy them anymore.) We all piled into the car, my camera in tow and set off for the 45 minute drive. We got about half way there and then we sat and sat and sat some more in traffic. It. was. miserable.

The worst part for me is that I'm pretty certain this was my last chance to do this type of activity with all my kids. I guess our last fun trip to get pumpkins was last year... bummer. :(

Even if we could've gotten through the traffic, we didn't have enough time at this point to stay and enjoy it. We ended up heading back to Cary, stopping at DJ's Berry Patch for our pumpkins. We didn't have much time so it was a super quick visit. Like - SUPER quick. It was the fastest pumpkin picking we've ever done, actually.  They had a nice selection of pumpkins and it was fine, but it wasn't necessarily exciting for anyone - even my youngest. I documented with candid images because in the end, it was our yearly trip to get pumpkins. Here are most of what I took that afternoon. Scroll through - I wonder if anyone can spot me in an image. You have to think abstractly to find me. 

While my kids were picking out their pumpkins, I saw the sweetest toddler running up and down the rows of pumpkins. He had the biggest smile on his face. I was sad thinking about how our experience with this tradition was now different and this particular activity would forever be different. This little boy prompted me to think about when my kids were toddlers. I usually had my camera with me, but I was always chasing them down the rows. I wasn't in front of them, able to enjoy (or photograph) their smiles and giggles as they explored this once a year experience. Many of our outings and experiences were and are now a blur. I wish that I had someone there to tell that story for me. This is why I love being a documentary photographer for families. My goal is to take the pressure off of parents and tell the story for you with candid, raw images and portraits of your children.

 And here is the obligatory family photo. There are so many things wrong with this photo, but at the same time it really captured that afternoon. 

And here is the obligatory family photo. There are so many things wrong with this photo, but at the same time it really captured that afternoon. 

I created "Fall Outings" sessions because I love documenting families in their homes and I also love to tell the stories of being out together as a family in a favorite place.

I know that as they grow my children will have new experiences that will also elicit smiles and laughs (even from my tween). They are just different at each age. For us no one was running around, smiling at all the pumpkins, but here are some things that I did notice about them. My son was very helpful in how he helped his little sister carry her pumpkin and how he helped me carry the mums to our car. My daughter was analytical in deciding which pumpkin would be best to carve her jack-o-lantern, almost always at her father's side. My littlest love still stays close, adores us and wants to hold our hands. She wasn't running around but still found things to interest her and make her smile. Oh, and apparently, occasionally, they work well under pressure because we were in and out in about 10 minutes - a record trip! I intend to keep photographing them and our family adventures. As much as I long for the days of my kids being excited about simple things, I look forward to the unknown firsts and lasts that lay ahead for me and my family. 

If you want to document a special activity or tradition of your family, contact Laura Ann Photography today to schedule your in-home documentary or fall outing session. I can't wait to tell your story!

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