My Everyday - a portrait of everyday family life
23rd July 2012
For the past two and a half years Whitney Ulven has taken a single photograph of her family, documenting her and her children's daily life.
Next month the mother of three from Oregon will have taken 1000 consecutive photos, sharing them on Blipfoto (www.blipfoto.com/myeveryday).
As you'd expect with three young children, family life can be hectic and her photos often reflect this.
"The photos I take show many different emotions - smiling to crying, laughing to surprise, pensive to relaxed," says Whitney. "Every day life isn't always the clean, smiling, happy child. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. I strive to capture real photos that tell a story."
While her dedication to recording her family's life is quite unique, Whitney says that she takes photos of her children for the same reasons that everyone takes photos of their children. "I want to preserve that memory for us to see, for my children to look back on and share with their children, and also to share with loved ones who aren't near to be part of our everyday life.
"Even now though, I can look back at a photo in my journal and recall where we were, what we were doing, and the moods surrounding the photo. I have a printed, bound book made for every year that I've done this. The books sit on the coffee table and are viewed quite often by our family and friends."
Mother to a six year old daughter, a four year old son; a one year old - whose birth was recorded in Whitney's journal - and two Jack Russell dogs, Whitney lives in a small town in Oregon. She met her husband-to-be on a blind date almost 14 years ago. Now, after reporting to her mum that he was "definitely not her type", this month they celebrate their tenth anniversary.
Her home is a farm that has been in the family for over 50 years in the Pacific north western state and in her "spare time" she also runs a portrait photography business and works part time on her family's manufacturing business.
As expected with 3 young children, daily life can be busy. A typical weekday can include dropping kids at school, squeezing in a bit of work while the youngest is sleeping, picking up the kids, spending time together in the afternoon and, quite often, out again to clubs and activities in the evening. "We love to spend a lot of time outside and take advantage of our weekends spent together," says Whitney. "We also take every opportunity to camp, go on road trips, and really just enjoy where we live. There are never enough hours in the day."
But being a busy mum, how does she find time to take her pictures?
"My camera goes with me everywhere. I shoot with a Nikon D700 and don't go anywhere without my 50mm 1.4. If I don't want to carry the big one, I have a Panasonic Lumix. But, there is never enough time for photos...I miss my morning walks, or that drive across town to get that one photo. The kids will only be little for so long though, and I wouldn't miss time with them for anything."
And what do the kids think of their mum's photography "habit"?
"Let's just say they are now pointing out when a great photo opportunity is happening. I'm not one to ask them to pose or smile... I much prefer the candid, everyday shots. The shots where they don't always know I am there. I think that makes the camera a bit less intrusive for them. That doesn't mean I don't get the occasional "Don't take anymore pictures!" request though.
Whitney uploads her photos to Blipfoto. The website allows people all over the globe to share their daily lives - no matter how ordinary or extraordinary they may be. The simple rule that binds its users across the world is that they can only share one picture a day.
Despite sharing her and her family's daily life with tens of thousands of other across the world, Whitney still considers herself a fairly private person. "I keep a lot to myself and those closest to me. Never did I expect to be sharing my life experiences in a public online journal, let alone one where people can comment on those experiences. I think most people on Blipfoto will agree though, that it is quite an amazing worldwide community. Not only is it a place where you can record your life in pictures, but a place where you "meet" others similar to you. It goes beyond the computer if you let it... it somehow unites people across the planet."
See more of My Everyday's journal.