Sunday, 31 January 2016

The 52 Project: 5/52

'A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week in 2016.'

Dear Ruby,
This is a photo of you after your swimming lesson, hair still slightly damp, wearing the birthday dress that I bought for your second birthday and you declined to wear, because you had been so eager to see your friends. Your energy never ceases to amaze me. After a forty minute swim, you insisted on running the entire way home from the swimming pool. Keep running, little one, you're fantastic at it. You have started saying, 'I strong, Mummy', and I love that you have no doubts over the strength of your beautiful body. I pray that this will always be the case.
You managed to fall asleep on your bike seat this week on a short cycle home, much to my amazement, and were so deeply asleep that I was able to take your bike helmet, shoes and coat off to put you into your bed without you waking from your slumber. Here's to enjoying that beautiful sleepy feeling that comes over both of us when we're in motion (don't worry, I won't ever fall asleep while cycling with you!).
All my love,
Mummy xxx

Monday, 25 January 2016

The 52 Project: 4/52

'A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week in 2016.'

Dear Ruby,
Every time we drive somewhere in the car, you talk about where we might be going. Your sense of direction astounds me, and your knowledge of Bristol makes me hopeful that you might just have more of an internal map than I do. My sense of direction is appalling - you will soon learn this. Or perhaps not. I didn't realise until I was nineteen that my Dad has just as bad a sense of direction as I do, so maybe you won't notice either!
You are thoroughly enjoying being involved in any cooking that takes place at the moment - in this photo you are preparing raspberries to be stewed in orange juice for making Cranachan (which you love to eat as much as you love to make!).
We have been doing a lot of dancing in the kitchen lately, and I love it when you initiate this. The other day I overheard you say, 'Dance with me, Daddy', and I couldn't help but smile.
This week we bought you a bike seat, which you love. We had no doubt that you would, after our holiday in Italy last Summer when you first rode on a bike seat and thoroughly enjoyed it. Each time we have been out for a ride, you have not wanted it to end, and protested greatly when the time came to return home. Here's to many more adventures on two wheels together.
All my love,
Mummy xxx

Sunday, 17 January 2016

The 52 Project: 3/52

'A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week in 2016.'

Dear Ruby,
I love your bed hair that you wake up with each morning. Today I thought I'd write a little list for you about some of the things you are doing and enjoying these days you...

1) Ask to pray before every meal, and often say, 'pray again' after we have said 'Amen'.
2) Are almost potty trained!
3) Write letters to Tim, Becky and Wren almost daily. It's lovely to see that you are growing up to love our friends as much as we do, and like sending them snail mail.
4) Love to help in the kitchen with every task - grinding coffee beans, washing up, sweeping, cleaning cupboards, chopping vegetables and stirring the food on the hob.
5) Have started noticing hydrangeas everywhere since I taught you what they are. When you spot another hydrangea bush it sounds like you're saying, 'I see Jesus!'
6) Jump into the swimming pool with the confidence of an Olympian and the grace of a seal, complete with a 180 degree rotation mid air.
7) Describe seals swimming underwater at the zoo: 'they're dancing, Mummy!'
8) Love looking at the clouds (just like me): 'wow, clouds moving, Mummy. I showing baby (doll). Wow, pink. Some clouds move round, yeh. Sometimes clouds move round too, Mummy.'
9) Keep asking to read the story of Goldilocks and the three bears.
10) Read yourself to sleep.
11) Wake up and say from the top of the stairs, 'Daddy! I up so high!'

All my love,
Mummy xxx

Sunday, 10 January 2016

The 52 Project: 2/52

'A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week in 2016.'

Dear Ruby,
Each week, we have many conversations about bringing your baby and buggy out with us. On a couple of occasions I have seriously contemplated discarding the pink, garish buggy in a back alley on our way home, just so that I don't have to carry you, your buggy and your baby when you run out of energy to walk. Thankfully, I haven't had to resort to these desperate measures just yet, but in case it ever comes to that, I apologise in advance, and promise I will do my utmost to find the buggy and return it home at a later date. I like your confidence in your buggy's lightweight frame to cope with all kinds of terrains, and you don't think twice about wading through a great muddy puddle, pushing the buggy ahead of you. 
Here's to never growing fearful of exploring new territory and trying new things.
All my love,
Mummy xxxx

Monday, 4 January 2016

Snuff Mills

It has been raining relentlessly here for days. The grey, grey sky that shows no sign of shifting its clouds to make way for a bit of light adds a certain heaviness to the day. I love spending time at home, but I tend to get cabin fever fairly quickly if I don't get out for some fresh air most days. Ruby is just the same, and we really see a difference in her when she hasn't had a chance to run and explore outdoors each day. So, when the sun broke through the clouds at 3.45pm on Sunday afternoon, we jumped at the opportunity to go for a walk. Within five minutes, we had donned our wellies, grabbed our coats and were out the door, on our way to Snuff Mills to make the most of the last forty five minutes of daylight.
I took my camera with me and just snapped away, soaking in the hints of beauty that can be found in the dead Winter months. 'I need this....I need to keep doing this, taking photos, trying to capture life and beauty and growth', I kept thinking to myself as I watched Ruby run up and down slopes, jumping in every puddle she could find, and admired the confused daffodils that are blooming far too early this year.
That walk confirmed my decision to carry on with The 52 Project after all. Taking photos helps me to find perspective in a lot of things, not least of all, in parenting. It's in taking the time to photograph those small, everyday moments that I get to see how much changes over a week, a month, a year. Often, it requires discipline to keep up with a creative habit, but the end result is so worth it.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

The 52 Project: 1/52

'A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week in 2016.'

Dear Ruby,
I wasn't intending on taking another year's worth of portraits of you this year. But then, I changed my mind. After dinner this evening while you were waiting for your rice pudding to finish cooking, you asked to look at photo books with me. You chose to look at a book of photos that I took between January and April 2015, and a couple of times you looked at photos of yourself and said, 'funny face!' You weren't pulling funny faces in the photos, but your appearance has changed a lot in the last year. It is so interesting to hear your reflections on your younger self. It's moments like these that make me realise how worthwhile it is to continue with The 52 Project - just knowing that you enjoy looking back through old photos and that we get to do this together is very precious to me. 
I took this photo on a walk we went on in Snuff Mills this afternoon. You relished the opportunity to run free, watch the fast flowing river and jump in every puddle you laid eyes on. Here's to seizing opportunities to enjoy the last light of the day with a walk outdoors and be astonished by the daffodils that are confused about what time of year it is.
All my love,
Mummy xxx

on reconsidering

Towards the end of 2015, I had decided to stop taking weekly portraits of Ruby in 2016. Having participated in The 52 Project for two years, I felt like my photography style had grown a little stale, and I thought it was a sensible decision to stop doing The 52 Project. But, I have been struggling to think of an alternative way of documenting life with Ruby this year, and so have reconsidered my decision to stop. I also realised that my reasons for stopping were also very good reasons to continue. My lack of inspiration for photographing Ruby creatively could either mean that I stopped pursuing the portraits of her, or instead, challenge myself to get out of my rut. Taking more photos is only ever going to help this.

Over the last couple of days, I have been doing some serious backing up and organising of all of my photos from the last two years, and as I looked through some of my earliest photos of her, I couldn't help but marvel at how much Ruby has changed since she came into our lives at the end of 2013. The weekly portraits come together to form a wonderful snapshot of all those changes, and I know that each week of this next year will bring changes with it that I will forget if I don't document them in some way. I never regret taking photos, but I will definitely regret not doing anything with them. I love that The 52 Project provides a very simple way of documenting my child(ren) each week, and right now, I need a simple framework to work with. Also, having the project constantly at the back of my mind as needing a little of my time and attention each week guarantees that I will pick up my DSLR, even if it's only once.

So, there we go. I have talked myself into it again.