18 realistic family photos. Because we know parenting isn't picture-perfect.

Family photographer Danielle Guenther gets the struggle that is parenting.

As a mom herself, she lives and loves the daily grind. Sure, she relishes those occasional picture-perfect moments, but she also relates to those very real moments her clients experience before, during, and after she takes family photos.

It was after one such family photo shoot that she decided to capture a real moment.

The mom "just sort of laid down in complete exhaustion," Guenther told me in a phone interview. Then the dad collapsed next to the mom on the couch. Guenther thought it was funny and they came up with the idea to add a few props and take a more realistic family photo right then and there. She titled it "Parenting Is Exhausting." (Isn't that the truth?!) When she posted it to her business Facebook page, "people went crazy for it," she said. "They were relating."


"Parenting Is Exhausting." Don't panic — it's apple juice in the wine glass! (See that jug of Mott's in front?) What parent hasn't felt this exhausted before? This is the photo Guenther described above — the first in her series. All photos belong to Danielle Guenther Photography and are shared here with Guenther's permission.

It was the opposite of all those nearly flawless pics we flood Facebook and Instagram with. And Guenther could see the very real need parents have to connect to these more authentic experiences.

And that's how her photo series "Best Case Scenario" was born.

In addition to or even in place of traditional family photos, Guenther takes staged but oh-so-real pictures for her clients. Guenther gets to know each family, and, based on their lives, she creates a moment in time for the perfectly imperfect shot.

They're hilarious and relatable, and she shared "Parenting Is Exhausting" and 18 other gems with us. Enjoy!

1. Rush Hour

Getting out the door in the morning is an exercise in patience.

2. The Escape Plan

You don't get those parenting stripes until you've army-crawled out of your baby's room to avoid being spotted.

3. She Got the Bug

Nope. Parents don't get sick days ... just bigger messes to clean up when they're feeling better.

4. Welcome to Our World

Multitasking: a parenting survival skill.

5. Playdate (in)Sanity

Now this is my kind of lemonade stand.

6. Why Did the Parents Cross the Road?

Family life = chaos.

7. Oh No...

We've all been there: The baby has finally fallen asleep, and you're deathly afraid to move to reach the thing you want to keep you entertained.

8. Day at the Spa

There's no such thing as showering alone and/or in peace when you have small children.

9. Got Milk ... Yet?

'Nuff said.

10. Fully Loaded

This is why it's easier to do laundry after everyone's in bed.

11. Just Another Mouth to Feed

Those tiny sleep thieves leave parents vulnerable to exhaustion-induced errors.

12. One Year Later...

Guenther photographed the family in photo #11 one year later. Looks about right.

13. Cleanup on Aisle 5

Grocery shopping with three young kids in tow isn't for the faint of heart.

14. Check Please!

That moment at a restaurant when your kids lose their minds and even if they're normally well-behaved, nothing works. You cannot. Get. The. Check. Fast. Enough.

15. Keep Your Head in the Game

Warning: Cooking with babies could result in dangerous mistakes. "They had this awesome sense of humor," Guenther said of the family in this photo. "It was near Thanksgiving and they wanted it for their holiday card. I was laughing hysterically with them. I knew [the photo] had to be funny and quirky." Mission accomplished.

16. Loser Unpacks It All

Moving pre-kids? Not so much fun. Moving with kids? Ugggghhhh.

17. Breakfast in Bed

'Cause there's no such thing as a "relaxing family vacation."

18. Hold on a Sec

That moment when one parent is juggling everything and the other is casually checking their phone. We've all been in both positions!

I know I could relate to more than a few of these photos, and that's what makes them so great.

Guenther loves being a photographer — and the different types of photos she takes. It's a passion that comes through in her work.

"Usually on photo shoots, parents say, 'Oh I'm sorry my kids are misbehaving,'" she told me. "It's OK! These are kids. This is what they do. It's nice to have wholesome, beautiful photos … but it's also just as refreshing to see something falling apart in front of you. This is reality."

And every parent on earth knows firsthand how real parenting can get.

"I think my favorite part about these is that social media often makes even the everyday moments seem perfect," Guenther told me. "But we know better."

She said that even though these photos capture the imperfect side of parenting, "it's also so beautiful when you photograph it. I know I don't want to forget these moments. I want to remember them — even when they're complete chaos."

Because that's what parenting is about — the highs, the lows, and the moments between.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."