Sunday, May 24, 2015

Just Outside the Frame: Taking Your Daughter to Work

When Gates was born, it became important to me that she believe anything was possible. I wanted her to be able to do whatever she dreamed. At that moment, I realized I needed to follow my dreams so that she would have a role model.

Gates Plays with a Sea Urchin Exoskeleton


Because actions speak louder than words, my actions needed to support my words. I wanted to tell her I believed in what I was doing, that I had dreamed big and hustled. So, I changed my career path.

Gates Styles a Bouquet Shot


In 1993 Take Your Daughter to Work Day was initiated and expanded to include boys in 2003. The official day for 2015 fell on Thursday, April 23rd, the 4th Thursday of April, but for me at least once a week is take your daughter to work day. Gates gets to see me run Twitter Chats, taste seasonal ingredients, test recipes, art direct and style photo shoots, shoot video, and more. And lately, at least for about the past six months, Gates has been assisting me.

Three Tips for Working with Kids

Working with kids requires a few special skills: Collaboration. Adeptness. Patience.

Collaboration. Working with Gates isn’t always easy. As she gets older, she wants more creative control over a project. She has a vision and would like me to follow it. Just as I have a vision and I want her to follow it.

Instead of two separate approaches, we now work together. I pick projects for us to work on that have a lot of creative flexibility and loose deadlines. We’re able to try things, see what works and what doesn’t work, talk about the process, and if our first attempt wasn’t satisfactory, iterate. By working together, collaborating, we reduce potential tension and create an environment where our project leverages both our strengths.

Adeptness. When kids help, you need to be able to think about projects differently. Gates wants to be involved. She’s incredibly curious. So rather than fight this curiosity, I plan for it. Delicate or time sensitive projects (for example, photographing food before it melts or settles) are completed at times when Gates isn’t helping (she’s with my parents or she’s adventuring with cubes).

When Gates helps, our project is flexible. She’ll often add props I hadn’t considered, like seashells to the foreground of bouquets I was shooting. Depending on her contribution and the end usage of what we’re creating, I often need to be quick on my feet. If she’s eaten the last of seasonal fruit I was about to photograph for an ingredients post, I need to rethink how I’m going to tie the recipes together.

Gates Arranges a Collection of Shells

Patience. Projects rarely if ever go exactly as planned. You may run out of materials or ingredients before you finish the project. Or, what you’re baking or making doesn’t turn out – a cake that doesn’t rise; cookies that burn rather than turn golden brown. So you need patience.

My best piece of advice comes from my mom. I think she has limitless patience. She says otherwise. Her secret? Forgiveness and realizing tomorrow is another day.

Now, I’m not a patient person (and turns out neither is my mom). So for me and for her, patience, like mindfulness, is a practice in forgiveness. Some days I master the practice. Some days I don’t. For those days when patience is elusive, I forgive myself and I rejoice that tomorrow’s another day, another chance to practice.

Have you changed your life to inspire your daughter?
genuinely eden

Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.