Candid group family photo taken on the sofa in the living room during a family photo and video session in the bay area

Family Films

It all begins with listening | A Day in the Life Film Session with the R-P Family

April 25, 2023


The stars + planets have been aligning just right because I’ve come to meet some pretty fantastic families. This one, in particular, will always have a warm place in my heart. They initially reached out because their 91 year old grandmother was visiting, and they thought they would value some photos of this special time together.

If you’ve worked with me before, you’ll know it all begins with a phone call. I know it can be a mental block for some, and honestly, it certainly was for this introvert. But I now find that getting to know the families I’m creating with is one of the most rewarding things about family photography. My creative process starts with a casual chat on the phone, followed by an in-depth questionnaire, so by the time we meet, I will have a good sense of what resonates in your heart. And the more we share, the more meaningful the art we create together becomes.

By entering this process, I discovered how important their grandmother is to them and how they wanted to hold onto their time together. They wanted to preserve all the details of her handholding, the sound and sweet cadence of her voice when she told a story, her laughing with the little ones, and all the cuddles and mischief in between. All natural and unscripted (because is there any other way with toddlers?!). Upon knowing all these details, I knew that pivoting to film was the best way I could honor how they loved each other.

As we approached their session date, we also developed a loose plan for our big day. And you can bet that the younger the kids are, the more flexible our “plans” become. And like clockwork with any film session, the kids (including the parents) had a terrible night’s sleep, but we decided to push through and see what magic awaited. This resulted in the best post-nap wake-ups and improved cuddly moments between siblings. It was not just beautiful to document but also to witness firsthand.

Thank you, R-P Family, for trusting your hearts and sharing this tender space with me. It means the world.

Family cuddling post-nap in bed.

Carmen has given us a priceless gift with her skill and artistry, and I have no doubt that this video will forever be some of the best money I’ve ever spent. It is tangible comfort for all the emotions of this time in our lives. Actual medicine for my soul and now one of my most treasured possessions. I would recommend that anyone with that same longing to capture a moment in time, especially parents, to go for the film option (which also generously includes a limited number of photos). When I watch it I feel like I’m back in that moment and I couldn’t be more grateful. Carmen is more than a photographer; she is a healer and a storyteller. I couldn’t speak more highly of her as a creator or a person.

Alison R

About Me

Real life is more than pretty pictures.
The beauty is in the journey, and it's absolutely
worth documenting all of it. 

I’m captivated by people and always have been; my B.S. is in anthropology. Early on, I appointed myself the family documentarian, carefully recording milestones and travels and learning along the way how much I love visual storytelling. I picked up my first professional camera when my daughter was born, knowing those early years with her were precious and full of changes. A photographer friend’s encouragement soon led me to make photography my career. Today, after many years and proud accomplishments, my passion for it only grows.

I can’t imagine doing anything else.       


©Carmen dunham 2024

branding by Bella Maven