Childhood Unplugged Features Stephanie Bryan

Today on Childhood Unplugged I am so excited to share a little bit about an artist that I am having fun getting to know lately. I first discovered Stephanie Bryan’s work through a private Facebook group for those who have purchased Jonathan Canlas FINDinabox. Her work is whimsy, colorful, fun and full of fleeting childhood moments of her two little ones. So without further ado let’s dive in!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

Hi! I’m Stephanie! I live in Raleigh, NC with my two sweet kiddos (Anna + Drew) and my husband Scott, where I spend most of my days with a camera in hand photographing our days and the days of others. When I’m not snapping away, I am reading a book, taking a run or just goofing off with my kids (probably the latter).

I know you love to shoot film. Tell us a little bit about why you choose film especially to document your children?

Photography has been my passion for as long as I can remember and truly allows me to get in touch with my creative side. Last year, I started my journey back into film photography after struggling with a lack of creativity/excitement with my personal (digital) work. I was always SO focused on WHAT I captured on the back of my screen that I lost the whole concept of capturing moments and recording memories. I found myself often disappointed with my final result – and often frustrated with my kids for not falling into that moment like I had expected. Film is absolutely magical to me and it has completely changed how I photograph my own family and others. Film makes me slow down, watch the scene and wait for the moment. I see the world differently with a film camera.

Playing together is so important. What are some of your favorite unplugged activities to do with your kids?

My husband and I always say that the best thing we ever did for our children is to give them each other. They truly are best friends and spend about 99% of their time playing random games and pretend scenarios. As a family, we LOVE spending time outside at parks (my husband loves to fly kites), playing board games and basically doing anything that involves a challenge. Our absolute favorite game, though, is this simple little game called “Animal Wars” we made up at dinner one night. We are very much an “anti-electronic” family at the dinner table and we use this time to sit down together, talk about our day and play our silly game. I love it because it brings us together and makes us really listen to one another without the distraction of electronics. 

Do you always keep a camera on hand? If so, what is your go to camera?

I find I go through phases with my camera. I tried doing the “photo a day” challenge last year and ended up feeling more bored and frustrated than inspired. Now I pick my camera up when the inspiration hits and go crazy. I’ve learned that it’s totally ok to NOT be photographing every single moment of our lives. Sometimes it’s better to live them, you know? But I do always have my cameras close by just in case! My go-to camera is my Canon 1V loaded with Kodak ColorPlus 200 film!

It’s Saturday morning with no agenda in sight. You have the entire day to spend with your family. What does that look like? Go!

Well that sounds ideal for sure! Our day would probably start with pancakes, coffee and snuggles on the couch followed by a few epic games of War (my son is slightly obsessed with this game). Then we’d probably venture out for some time at the park (with our kite in hand) and then finish it off with a bonfire in our backyard and some steaks on the grill! Sounds delightful!

Do you have an all time favorite image? If so, share it with us and tell us why you hold the memory so near and dear.

Gah! I don’t think I could pick just one. I love so many of our captured moments for so many different reasons. I think every picture I’ve ever taken takes me back to that specific moment and makes me feel something. They may not be perfectly composed or technically correct, but I just love them all.

Do you have any rules for the kids when it comes to screen time (television, computer, video games)? There is no wrong or right answer. Just always curious how other families are balancing it all out.

For our family, electronics are only allowed on the weekends (and then only in moderation). We are so busy with school, homework and sports during the week that we really just don’t have any time for electronics. For my kids, out of sight truly is out of mind. They rarely ask to play games or watch television because we just don’t do it that often. They spend the majority of their time out on our trampoline or playing in the backyard with our neighbors! 

It’s a new year. Any new personal projects on the horizon?

I’m a rules follower by nature. I like order and consistency and structure. But sometimes that just feels so darn boring. So for me, 2018 is all about stepping out of my “comfort zone” and trying new things when it comes to my personal work. Basically I’m throwing the rules and others expectations out the window and allowing myself to be different, seek out weirdness and embrace whatever comes along! 

What do you most want your children to look back on and remember from their childhood?

My husband and I talk about this all the time. I think for me, I want them to look back on their childhood and see nothing but happiness, joy and love. I want them to remember our time together as a family- our evenings of playing War, our lazy Saturday trips to the park and our awesome “Animal Wars” battles at dinner- and see that we were always together and that they are truly loved.

Thank you Stephanie for taking some time to share a bit about yourself with our readers. It’s honestly been a delight. xo, Monica Calderin