Everyday Stories | Long Island Documentary Family Photographer

This week was nice - it felt like the first week in a long time that we all exhaled a bit. I didn't have to work, the runny noses slowed down, and the sun came out for a few gloriously warm days. I picked up my camera and shot more photos than I have in quite a while - no masterpieces, but at least I was getting some practice in again. We went to the beach on Sunday and felt refreshed by the sea air.

Life is good.


"A promise"

In February, even the most mundane of outings can be exciting. This is the hard part of winter, when the holidays are over and it is just cold and gloomy. A trip to the gas station or Target can perk things up though. You are so thirsty for adventure and the the world outside of this house. Some days we just drive. Some days, despite the cold, we go out for frozen yogurt. Anything, anything to break the routine. As the days wear on, I notice the light growing longer and longer into the late afternoon. It is like a promise. Spring is coming, my loves.


We are raising two very strong-willed humans. Although it can drive me batty on the daily, I suppose that's a good thing. You are both very outspoken about what you want, when you want it, and you are not quiet about expressing your dissatisfaction when something doesn't go your way. It can be a challenge day in and day out - and although I think you both really are each other's best friend, you also bicker constantly. Your former preschool director always said the quiet, passive kids are the ones that you should worry about - so I guess I should just relax about you two. On whatever scale that is, you are obviously excelling. I'll just be over here with my glass of wine and my headphones.


I DO IT! Those are the the words that come out of your mouth most frequently these days. Such a determined little boy, trying to do everything your big sister can do (and some things she can't). You want to cut with scissors, you want to climb the mountains of icy snow in the school parking lot, you want to sit in Lila's carseat, you want to help make your dinner, you want to climb in and out of the car yourself, and attempt pieces of playground equipment that you have no business attempting. You are making my hair turn white even faster than it already is with your daring antics, but despite my heart stopping every time I see you perched up on the arm of the couch ready to dive, I am also secretly filled with quite a bit of pride for the brave boy you are, unafraid of most things - except having your hair washed and standing on your own two feet in an elevator. Those two we still have to work on.


The other day you spent at least a half an hour building a nest for the birds on some palettes we have outside our front window. It was the first warm day this year - close to 60 degrees - and we were outside in only sweatshirts. The late afternoon sun was moving down the side of the house and everything was lovely and golden. You both played so nicely - each finding unique treasures to add to the nest. I sat on the steps and watched you, so happy for the sun, for that moment, and for you both.


lt was a glorious 60 degrees on Sunday, and so after weeks of gloomy winter weather, it seemed only obvious that we needed to get out to the beach and see the water. Walk on the sand. Smell the salty air. The parking lot was packed - clearly half of Long Island had the same idea as us. It was cooler on the boardwalk, and a whole lot windier as we got closer to the water, but we pulled on our jackets and ran down to the shore anyway. Watching the waves crash onto the sand, inhaling that sea air - it was the best medicine for our rocky start to the year. It was peaceful and cleansing, and beautiful and wild, all at once. It wasn’t until I stood before that vast ocean that I gained some much-needed perspective. It is so easy to let the small things in the day-to-day grow into big things if you don’t look outside yourself. It is so easy to get lost. I took a deep breath and then exhaled. Everything is going to be alright.

(written for the February edition of The Dot-to-Dot Collective)

Francesca Russell is a documentary-style family photographer and filmmaker located in Garden City South, NY. If you'd like to see more of her recent documentary family photography, head over to her Facebook page or follow her everyday adventures on Instagram. If you are looking for a family photographer on Long Island or in the New York City area to document your family's story in photos or a film, please contact her for a session!