Why I Photograph Mothers and Families | Oroville Photographer

Why I photograph families?

When there is an entire world out there with limitless possibilities…landscapes, macro, street photography, food, travel, weddings…Why families? Why mothers? 

In the spirit of my new year resolution, I’m trying not to over think things. I am focusing on trusting my instincts, and just responding to the things that call to me. But that wouldn’t leave me much to write about; “I shoot families because it’s what excites my spirit.” I mean, sure, that’s the absolute truth, but, with my excellent overthinking skills, there is more to say.

I see a real movement in bringing the importance of family back to the forefront of our lives. And I’m not talking exclusively the nuclear family with a father, mother, and 2.5 children. A family can look like anything, but at the root of it, there is love, acceptance, respect, and the foundation for raising good humans. The world needs this. 

Tonya Edwards | Oroville Family Photographer | mom and daughter sitting under a tree watching the sunset

I want to make images that support this idea. Images that can become some sort of testament to the importance of family and all it entails. For the children. For the parents. For whomever holds a place in the family. Because having a (large) family photo hanging on the wall is the kind of subliminal reminder that everyone needs now and then.

Tonya Edwards | Oroville Family Photographer | four boys and parents in a big family bear hug
Tonya Edwards | Oroville Photographer | son and daughter with parents sitting on a blanket under a tree

My parents spent several hundred dollars on senior pictures when I graduated high school. To date, I have a few wallet size photos of me posed in a studio to show for it. The only memory I have tied to these photos is that we were almost late and I didn’t like my hair. You know what I value even more? A photo of my whole family at a reunion when I was ten, with sunburned cheeks and wild hair from a day spent playing together.

I have hundreds of photos from my wedding that I love and cherish. It was one of the best days of my life. But what I cherish more are the snapshots of the past almost ten years together that show the progression of the life we have built together.

This is not to discount the importance of wedding photos or senior portraits. It goes without saying that these most important events need to be documented. But it does need to be said that documenting your family is just as important!

Why I photograph mothers?

Mothers. Oh, mothers. Even in a family photo, I tend to favor the mothers. For so many reasons, not the least of which is, that I’m a mother too. I know the struggles, the triumphs, the love, the pain, the joy, all the feelings. And I also know that we don’t value ourselves enough.

Maybe you are one of the few who have been blessed with solid confidence, with self assurance, with knowing and owning your worth. You. Are. Amazing. But I think many of us struggle with that. We doubt the importance of what we do each day. Keeping small humans alive and relatively happy doesn’t seem like the stuff that changes the world (even though it really does).  And seeing a photo of ourselves just leads to further feelings of inadequacy. We zoom in on minute flaws the rest of the world doesn’t see, critical of every bump, roll, or shadow that might grace our amazing bodies. 

When you see a photo of yourself, what do you say to yourself?

Do you have a mother you love? Now imagine saying those things about your mother. 

You are a mother too.

Do you have a daughter you love? Imagine her saying those things about herself.

You are a daughter too.

Do you have a son you love? Imagine him saying those things about the woman he loves.

You are loved too.

We could all learn to be more gentle with ourselves.

Tonya Edwards | Oroville Photographer | mommy and daughter hugging
Tonya Edwards | Oroville Photographer | mama and child and baby sitting in a chair laughing

Your children want to see you in pictures with them. Of all the hundreds of photos I have from my childhood, I wish there were more of me WITH my mother. And your children need to see you in pictures with them. They are learning from you. Watching you and listening to how to talk to yourself. 

I hope to create the kind of image that overwhelms a mother with so much emotion that she can no longer focus on her flaws. An image that makes the love she feels for her family almost tangible. An image that shows her that she IS beautiful and loved and worthy and important, and that she is exactly the woman that her family needs her to be.

Even to me, this sounds like a pretty lofty goal, but it is one I believe in and one I will always try to surpass. And as long as it continues to excite my spirit, I will continue to recruit all the beautiful mama’s to sit in front of my lens.

Tonya Edwards | Oroville Photographer | mothers holding children
Tonya Edwards | Oroville Photographer | mama holding daughter in white gown