When you realize just how beautiful your family is, through the eyes of a photog

So, we take a lot of pictures of our kid. Like almost every modern parent on the planet, whatever we do, wherever we go, we always look for the photo op. “Smile!”, “Stop moving!”, “Stop making that face and smile nice”, “I mean it!”, “If you don’t smile, no TV tonight!”

We’ve gotten plenty of great shots, enough to fill up nine, yes, nine, photo collage frames. Plus over two thousand photos on our phones. He’s 7 and we live in NYC, we are running out of room. Soon we’ll be scotch taping photos to our kitchen cabinets.

While we are really good at taking photos of our kid, we hardly ever take photos together. Eric is camera shy and I always hate the way I look in photos. We have a nice one from Christmas two years ago, all sitting with Santa, a really cute one from his 4th birthday party, and a semi-decent selfie I took of us on the ferry last summer during “gap week”

And that’s about it. Any of the other photos I like, one of us, or more often both, are missing.

I’ve been trying to think of ways to document this time in our lives, this time in the world. I started this blog (as much as I have been neglecting it), I’ve been sure to take some pictures of Charlie with his mask on and I’ve been taking lots of mental notes.

But then a friend of mine posted some family photos that were taken by a pro, calling them “stoop sessions.” These were family portraits taken in front of your building or on your front stoop, socially distanced, while the photographer and her assistant stood 6 feet away and wore masks.

Brilliant! And the photos were gorgeous! I was jealous immediately, of course. I wanted to do it so bad. She even took photos of them in their masks, which I loved.

Even better, the photographer, Mia Isabella Aguirre was offering these sessions as “pay what you wish” AND was donating a portion of the proceeds to a wonderful local organization, The Connected Chef, run by another local Astoria Mom who, during this pandemic has started a food pantry and is delivering fresh, wholesome food to hundreds of families across Queens, each and every week.

I was able to reach out to Mia and book a session on a Thursday evening, right as I got home from work, but before Eric left for work. At the time of the shoot, we had been working opposite schedules to help fill the gap in childcare that COVID had created. With no school and most likely no camp on the horizon, we decided early on, that this would be the only way we could make it work.

Before you feel too bad for us, this really wasn’t something new for us. We have worked opposite schedules for most of our relationship. Honestly, it’s probably a key contributing factor to how we’ve managed to be together this long and barely fight.

But, as in many families, this created a gap that we hadn’t foreseen. With my schedule, I could usually get out by 4 and Charlie went to after school four days a week until 5:30. So, I would usually snag an hour at least of the highly-coveted “alone” time that many parents crave. Eric would work doubles and come home on his break for a quick dinner and then back to work.

But now, with no school, we were faced with the reality of having Charlie home all day, everyday, and his care totally falling on us. Believe me, I know how it sounds to some (fellow working Moms, I know you see me!), he’s our kid, his care SHOULD fall on us. And yea, that’s true, but you know what they say, it takes a village. And without our village of school, after school and his Grandparents, we were really unsure how we were going to navigate our new normal, both being “essential workers” and all.

Eric lost his primary job at the local restaurant he worked at. It wasn’t glamorous, but it was steady, and paid pretty well. He worked 3 doubles a week. The rest of the week he would work for a delivery service, sort of like Doordash. It was good money too, but the best part, it was flexible and he could basically work when he wanted.

So now, his primary job was going to only be the delivery service. Which was great in a way, since it was so flexible, he could be with Charlie while I was at work and he could work while I was home. Not ideal, but we would make it work.

Anyway, back to the photo shoot. Mia and her assistant arrived and got right to work. They were amazing. So nice, and set us right at ease immediately. Charlie opened up after about thirty seconds and started making silly faces and jumping up and down.

I had asked Mia if she could take some photos of just me, for my new blog, of course. I hadn’t had a decent photo of myself in years and figured, why not?

Fifteen minutes later, we were done and about a week later, I had the shots. So many amazing photos of my family. I cried when I saw them. Literally cried. I could not believe how she captured us.

Now, I know my kid is adorable. I know you’re not supposed to say that, but I don’t care, he is. I don’t know where he gets it from but man, my kid is cute! But until I saw these photos, I never really saw the true beauty of our family until Mia captured it.

Sometimes, you can’t see what’s right in front of your face. Sometimes, it takes a complete stranger with a camera to open your eyes.

Check out both these ladies’ websites for more info on booking a shoot and the incredible work Kim and her family are doing for those in need during this pandemic. Stay safe, be well and remember, the mask needs to cover your nose AND your mouth!

All photos by Mia Isabella Photography

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