Some of my favorite photos are the ones renowned American photographer Sally Mann took of her daughters in the 1980s. The powerful black-and-white images perfectly capture her girls being themselves, and their personalities seem to leap off the page and right into your heart. That's exactly how I feel looking a new photo series of daughters by Atlanta-based photographer and mom Kate T. Parker.
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In her "Strong Is the New Pretty" photos, Parker didn't pose her daughters, clean them up, or make them smile. She was just capturing scenes of everyday life with her girls, who happen to be athletic and strong, dirty and loud and crazy. But when she gathered all the images together, she realized the story they were telling: This is me, and I'm amazing just the way I am. It's obvious by the poses her daughters strike naturally and the gaze of their eyes that they are confident and strong, and that their worth is not determined by how they look, but by who they are and what they do.
The point is not that girls who like princesses and frills aren't strong and confident. Of course they are. The point is that capturing your kids, girls or boys, as they really are can be a powerful way to document them. Posed pictures where every one is well-coiffed and smiling are fine, but when you look back at them when your kids are grown, will they remind you—or them—of who they were?
Take images of your kids that tell their stories, not anyone else's. Show them that exactly who they are in the real moments of their lives is worth celebrating—and that they don't need to change anything to be worthy of being photographed.
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Ellen Sturm Niz is a New York City-based editor and writer who annoys her eight-year-old daughter by constantly taking photographs—but is sure someday her daughter will thank her. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.
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Image via Shutterstock.