The stories objects hold.

Technically this is just fabric. In reality though, it is so much more. It is comfort and love. Nunny left behind, still in sight though, because her darling Clover is big enough now to want to play without her sometimes. Not often is she left behind on an adventure, but it is happening more and more. Time is passing and that is exactly what this image says.


I find so much personality in things. Pretty sure it is the main reason I love to go to thrift stores (OP shops if you are Aussie) as the items for sale come with a hidden history. It is something that I can’t always see see, but I certainly feel. Places and objects hold personal stories and that is why I am drawn to photographing them. It may not be what gets shared on the blog or Instagram the most, but I am always collecting these little portraits of time passed. Later I sit with them and let them speak quietly to me. It was like the days after my father died and I just stood in front of his closet and stared at his shoes. He was no longer there, but the places those shoes had taken him hung in the air before me.

One of the things I find compelling is portraits of children’s lives where the kids themselves are not even present. Images of the traces of them pull strongly at my heart. Maybe it is because I wanted children for so long before I actually had them or  it is just the constant realization that their time living at home with us is so short. As an expat who is so physically far from her own mother, I am acutely aware of that bittersweet reality. The little girl I nannied is graduating high school this year. It seems like yesterday that I was meeting her as a five month old baby. A friend’s child whom I can vividly remember buying the present for her birth (a little jacket from Esprit) just backpacked her way through my Melbourne guest room on her way around the world. She is twenty now. My kids will be out on their own someday. There will not always be juice boxes in my fridge. We have already gotten rid of the bottles I had to warm. The bottles I painstakingly pumped full of milk I no longer produce and never again will. That time is gone. And that is why I photograph the details. For me, they are powerful road markers on this journey.

Something I rarely celebrate with photos is the mess that kids leave in their wake. In fact, I grumble as I wipe it all up and put it back in order. Yet, I have never forgotten this post from Heather Spohr nearly four years ago, just a few months after she had lost her daughter Maddie. That mess they leave behind? It is such a tangible proof of life lived.

I found a new blog yesterday that aims to capture all of those things. The objects and the mess that celebrate time spent with children in our homes…these photographers make it beautiful.

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  • gemma schipani - my heart just breaks thinking of the day my kids will be wandering this earth without me holding their hands. actually having to think about it now has me teary eyed. i very often photograph moments of mess and objects they love. i moan at the time i have to clear away the mess and craziness but i also know in the back of my mind that it wont be this way forever and i know someday i will miss these moments. sigh.April 3, 2013 – 11:20 amReplyCancel

    • sesame - I know, huh?April 3, 2013 – 11:24 amReplyCancel

  • Staci Schonbrun via Facebook - beautiful post 😉April 3, 2013 – 11:22 amReplyCancel

  • Ginger Unzueta - Rachel, I love this. Your words are so beautifully written. I love the heart of you that you share. I am in the Kids Were Here group and am loving the project so much. I know these images I am also taking will tell me so many stories. My throat got a lump in it as I read about the juice boxes…yesterday that was one of the pictures I shared. Empty wrapper of a set of juice boxes. My husband and I find the straw wrappers everywhere. I never thought really about how these …will be something gone one day. Thank you for sharing this. I was first introduced to your work through Click magazine but I am so thankful to get to know a piece of your heart as well♥ big hugs!April 3, 2013 – 11:24 amReplyCancel

  • Heidi - I like this so much.
    They really are just things, but the memories that they carry mean so much more….
    I feel the same way about my daughter’s little stuffed dog, and when my son almost didn’t sleep with his lovey the other night, I had the distinct feeling of a rush of wind blowing his little boyhood out the door.
    My son asks me why I have Grandpa’s cap hanging in the garage, the hat of a man he’s never met. The things are bittersweet, but sometimes that is the feeling I’m craving.April 3, 2013 – 11:33 amReplyCancel

  • Kathryn - I truly believe we all have too much stuff, too much shit clogging our lives. But on the flip side, I TOTALLY believe that we need THINGS. Things are what hold our memories and experiences for us when we momentarily lose them. I really loved this post, Rachel.
    xApril 3, 2013 – 11:37 amReplyCancel

  • Amie Neil - So beautifully written. I look at Nunny and it brings a tear to my eye, that same tear I get when I watch ‘Toy Story 3’. Motherhood is such a roller coaster of emotions. I too have been admiring the ‘Kids Were Here’ bloggers and attempted my own yesterday – I love the common undercurrent of mummy photographers – connected through love for our children and attempts to hold on to the fleeting time. I’d love you to take a look at my ‘Kids Were Here’ project:
    AmieApril 3, 2013 – 11:39 amReplyCancel

  • Ginger Ingley Unzueta via Facebook - Loved this so much Rachel! So many things about it…April 3, 2013 – 11:43 amReplyCancel

  • Summer Murdock - I’m not really a crier but this beautiful post made me cry….”tangible proof of life lived”! I love how you see the world…both though your images and your words…xoApril 3, 2013 – 11:55 amReplyCancel

  • DawnK - My younger daughter was just home last week for spring break from college. The week went by so fast. Her sister was home over the weekend, but just for the weekend. She’d gone to Buffalo, NY the week before for some mission work. What really broke my heart was the dog acting sad yesterday, that the kids had been home, but now were gone again. She barely ate. She doesn’t understand why they come and go. Mid-May will be here soon enough, and then they will be home again.April 3, 2013 – 12:37 pmReplyCancel

  • Julia Goss via Facebook - beautiful post !!!April 3, 2013 – 12:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Liv - I love this post, although it made me a little sad. My girls are 9 months and 3 and they are growing so fast. I’ve never really thought to document the messes and the leftover scenes from their days and I am going to make a point of it.April 3, 2013 – 12:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Laura Burke via Facebook - thanks, rachel, for making me cry!April 3, 2013 – 1:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Jenna Reich via Facebook - I love this!April 3, 2013 – 1:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Robin - lovely words and captures as always. I saw that new project and am looking forward to it along with loving You Are My Wild right now.April 3, 2013 – 2:14 pmReplyCancel

  • The stories objects hold. | shootplex - […] Link: The stories objects hold. […]April 3, 2013 – 4:10 pmReplyCancel

  • El - Thank you Rachael, for this beautiful post. Makes my heart happy that so many others feel, see and know the importance in the mundane. XoxoApril 3, 2013 – 4:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Fi Mims via Facebook - Rachel your post made me cry and Kids were here made me smile – both so moving in different but great ways! Thanks xApril 3, 2013 – 8:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Maile Knight Wilson via Facebook - I adore this post so, so much. That little Nunny says it all. April 3, 2013 – 8:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Life with Kaishon - Beautiful post. So glad my friend Marvett linked to this on facebook this morning. : )
    Happy Wednesday.April 4, 2013 – 12:03 amReplyCancel

  • Heather - It means a lot to me that you remember that, Rachel. xoxoApril 4, 2013 – 12:30 pmReplyCancel

    • sesame - That post has never been far from my mind. I think of your family often.April 4, 2013 – 4:24 pmReplyCancel

  • amelia - I still believe my precious things come alive and play when I’m not in the room.April 5, 2013 – 2:34 pmReplyCancel

    • amelia - Now that I actually finished reading the entire blog post… This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing!April 5, 2013 – 2:43 pmReplyCancel

  • SarahKane - This is so lovely. It is nice to think that when the kids are older, these little things will become sacred artefacts in the makeup of their lives, it is sweet and also important to be able to mark what will one day play a huge part in the nostalgia of their childhoods from adulthood. In fact, I have proof of this….just a few weeks ago I posted the following to Instagram…..

    Not just proof of my own nostalgic item, but my Mum ’ s too. Perhaps if I have kids, I can one day add to the collection and so on and so forth.April 7, 2013 – 11:56 amReplyCancel

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