I have countless pictures of my kids.
“Awww, Lucy’s covered in orange baby food!”
“Ha! Elliott fell asleep in a strange position in his stroller again.”
“Elliott, hold out your hand so the ladybug can sit on it. Ok, don’t move. Wait, don’t – I said try not to move, baby. Just – just hold out your hand! Agh, here’s a stick.”
My husband and I try to collect the big and small moments in our lives as much as we can but the kids do and change so much, we miss the little things like the looks they give each other or the joy they experience when it’s time to play or the exhaustion they have at the end of a busy day. It’s also difficult to keep up with what we are like during these pictures. Were we happy? Tired? Frustrated? No idea. We’re rarely in our own pictures. And when we are, it’s for a posed family photo which we do once a year. So what do we look like when we’re just… living life? What’s a typical day for us without the posing and cheesing and styling?
Thanks to Cristina Travaglio, we know – and we love it.
“A Day in the Life” Project – Documentary Photography
Cristina of Maria Cristina Travaglio Photography offers the opportunity for families in Vienna to be documented as their most authentic, spontaneous selves. The idea is for the documented family to go about their day as if Cristina is not there so she’s able to capture the tiniest of details that are missed or go unnoticed. This also gives the parents the chance to be in the pictures with their kids without the stress to get one or all kids to smile at the same time.
How It Works
Pick a day and a length of time for your family to be photographed.
We chose to be photographed for three hours on a regular Monday afternoon because that seemed the most natural for us. Mondays are busy but routine, and we wanted pictures of us doing something completely ordinary and casual like playing, doing chores, and eating.
Choose a part of your life you want to be photographed
Think about flipping through photos several years from now. What would you want to see? The chaos of a school morning and work day? Family dinner? Playtime in the garden? The beauty of this project is that you don’t have to do anything spectacular in order to get a good picture because you and your family are already spectacular just by being yourselves. You do you. We chose for Cristina to photograph our family from late afternoon to early evening so she could photograph the kids and me hanging out before Will got home from work, dinner together (sort of), post-dinner playtime, bathtime, and bedtime.
Ignore the camera and the person behind it
Honestly, I thought this would be difficult for the kids and me. I’d met Cristina several times before she came over to do this project and we got along so well, and I like to talk so much, I thought it would be impossible for me to ignore her for such a long period of time. And Elliott – heavens. He greets every ladybug he comes across and says hello to cars. When we have visitors, he hands them every toy he owns and tells a story about each one. And little Lucy loves everyone. I wasn’t picturing a failure, but I did assume the whole experience would be a bit of a struggle for the talkers in the family.
But we did great! While I’m a talker, I’m also a paranoid rule follower, and since Cristina had told me ahead of time to try to ignore her, I didn’t want to mess up her project from wanting to chat. After I asked her if she wanted water or coffee, it took me about twenty minutes to feel comfortable ignoring her and going about my day. After that, I barely remember her being there at all. And Elliott followed suit. Initially, he was interested in her being there with her camera, but he too got comfortable with her moving around, changing lenses here and there, and focusing in on his playtime. The whole experience was stress-free and totally relaxed, and Cristina did an amazing job of blending into the background and letting us do our thing.
The hardest thing for me was to be in my most natural Monday state. Mondays are my home days which means I stay home with Lucy to do chores and work. This also means my hair is never done and I don’t wear makeup. I really wanted to be all made up for this session, but it didn’t feel right because that’s simply not what I look like on Monday afternoons. So I kept my unwashed, postpartum-recovering hair in a messy bun and left my face alone. I also kept the kids in their regular wear. Elliott wore what he had on at school, and Lucy wore her everyday clothes (but a bow is part of her everyday wear). No button ups, no dresses. Just natural. However, do feel comfortable. If doing your hair or trimming your beard will help you feel less self-conscious, then go for it. This was just my personal approach.
With the prettiness and perfection filters and apps like Instagram give us, it’s sometimes hard to remember that a day in the life of a family is not filled solely with laughter and smiles. There can also be anger, sadness, frustration, exhaustion – all normal, everyday emotions people of all ages experience. Going into this project, I hoped Cristina would find the facial expressions I miss or don’t see, and even capture the expressions on my own face as I went about the day. Now, I definitely didn’t hope for a meltdown or tantrum, but I did want to see authenticity. I wanted to see our family live and love and play together as well as help, guide, and listen to each other. When I talked to Elliott (see below) about not throwing cloth diapers on Lucy’s head, I wanted that captured, because that’s real life. Had Lucy cried because she was hungry or felt left out, I would’ve wanted that captured, because that’s real life. Had Elliott done his classic “I’m pooping” face, I would’ve wanted that captured because it’s hilarious and real life. Beautiful, authentic, real Kooi life.
Cristina offers the following Day in the Life packages:
2-hours + private online viewing gallery
3-hours + private online viewing gallery
4-hours (may be split into two sessions) + private online viewing gallery
You can contact her directly for prices, and if you mention my name, you’ll get a 20% discount!!!
If you’re interested in your own Day in the Life, contact Cristina!
Visit her website
Follow her/contact her on Facebook
Follow her on Instagram
If you have any questions about my experience, ask me! Our family loved our Day in the Life experience and are happy to share more about it.
And now, for my one of my top favorite über authentic photos: