In Her Shoes

A photography project can not only improve your photography, it can change the way you think.

As part of a class I recently completed at RISD, I spent six weeks on a final project. I wanted to do a thematic portrait project, but I hesitated to schedule multiple portrait sessions in a brief busy period. As all the great artists do, I brainstormed ideas with my children while driving my minivan.

Luckily for me, my creative kids had some fantastic ideas. I settled on a portrait project that required no scheduling, offered the opportunity for multiple re-shoots, and spurred me to be creative. Best of all, I created an opportunity to work with one of my favorite people--my daughter, who turned nine during the project.

The concept was hers. The idea to keep it within the family was mine. 

In Her Shoes is our version of role reversal. Children want to grow up, but they rarely appreciate the responsibilities of adulthood. Adults often forget the joy and utter abandon of childhood. We sought to show this by spending time in each other's shoes.

I easily identified "things adults do," but tapping into my inner child was more challenging. My initial ideas for self-portraits were things I remembered doing as a kid or recently had seen my own children do. Over time, however, I actually began to think as a child might think, creatively and outside my usual norm. My vibrant autumn Japanese maple wasn't just a subject to photograph; it was a tree to climb. A cardboard box wasn't for shipping or recycling; it was a toy.

I  looked at the world differently, and my children looked differently at me. It was satisfying to bring images in my head to life, but it was more satisfying when my kids returned home from school, looked at the day's photos, and said, "You did that?!"

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Click the image below to view our book, In Her Shoes. Scroll down in the resulting new window to see each page.