Sham of the Perfect | Documentary Family Photographer Melbourne

I suck at long-term photography projects. Each year it seems, I’ll start a 365 project or 52 project & fall on my arse after the first few days or weeks. But last year, I did it. Fifty two photos, plus a couple of bonus rounds, as part of a 52 project which I founded with my now very good friends, Erika & Lacey. The idea to do a weekly project is nothing new, I know, but we weren’t trying to do anything new or big, we just wanted a photography project that we could work on, one that spoke to us & would have the added benefit of keeping us shooting for ourselves. We wanted something¬† that we knew we would want to photograph for a whole year. We wanted to document what life with children, life as a family was really like. Not the matching outfits, manicured homes(because, what the fuck am I doing wrong if I can’t keep my house spotlessly clean & tidy when some woman on Instagram with 5 kids can keep her house sparkling & beautiful with her white walls clear of kid graffiti & her little knick-knacks proudly displayed without fear of them being smashed into a million pieces by a kid) or happy smiling faces all looking at the camera in the middle of some field as if they have been dropped there by aliens once they had completed their crop circles. And after finding Sarah Dunning Park’s poem, ‘A Spring Issue‘, we knew we had found found the name of our project, when we found the line, ‘sham of the perfect’.¬† That was it.

We also decided that it would be nice to have a few more people join us. We were hoping for about five but when we put the call out, we ended up with 12 eager people wanting to join us. And so, our International collective was born. And when we released our messy, dirty, emotional, quirky baby into the world, we couldn’t believe how many people it resonated with. From our little project grew a big community of people documenting what their life is like – mess, mismatched outfits & all.

So here is my contribution to the project, all in one place. It overwhelms me to see it all together, so different to our weekly posts where I get to see my life piece by piece. Because when you’re in the grind it’s so easy to lose sight of it all, even though you’re preaching that it’s ok not to be perfect, that you’re good enough. To see my kids change before my very eyes, to see myself change, through my work, over the course of the year, well, that’s something else.

Sham of the perfect-1boy eating cerealboy in bedroom playing with castlelittle boy holding ipad & silhouettedirty feetlittle boy standing on bench eating chipslittle boy drinking water from hoselittle boy dressed asspidermangirl eating tacoboy under tableboy hanging from fridge doorboy looking into washing machine in messy laundrygirl reading book in pink bedroomdog looking through window at boy eating icy polekids sitting at table drawingkids standing on pool table doing laundrygirl jumping off couchlittle boy standing on kitchen tablelittle girl trying to dress herselfboy asleep on the floor amongst toyslittle boy laying on floor watching tv mad maxlittle boy laying in parents bedlittle boy vacuuming the floorlittle boy with dummy in car seatdad & daughters at doughnut vankids running with capesboy having a piggy back ride in citylittle girl reading in bedlittle boy eating a sandwichgirl at dentistboy looking out tram windowkids playing on iphone sitting on sleeping dadkids playing in bedroomreflection of girl eating noodlesboy sitting at table with dad having a cup of tealittle boy in bathkids playing minions game at arcadeboy dressed as captain america with hulk handsgirl in kitchen dressed as wonder womankids on jumping castlekids having pillow fightgirl playing in gardengirl with face pressed against glasslittle boy washing bikegirl sucking thumb sleeping with dadkids sitting on skateboard in kitchen eating cornboy playing with doll housekids at bowling alleymetal fingers in car mirrorself portrait in hotel room with little girlkids sitting in blanket box beside Christmas treelittle boy looking through hole in the fencelittle boy looking at dog through windowself portrait with kids playinglittle boy playing with toys on christmas morninggirl with broken arm & coloured nail polish eating icy pole

Thank you so much to our Sham of the Perfect ladies. And to my partners in crime, Erika & Lacey – for your friendship & support throughout the year. And don’t worry, we’re not stopping! We have already kicked off year two of the project, we have almost finished developing our new website & we have so much more going on this year, with more opportunities for our community to get involved.

You can find us on Facebook, Instagram & at our website.

Here are the links to other round up posts by our collective members. I’ll update the list as more come to hand:

Celina Bailey

Chrystal Cienfuegos 

Gemma Robillard

Heather Bowser

Lacey Monroe

Michelle McDaid

Robin Stephenson

Vicki Hull


Do you think you’d be the kind of person that would like to have a documentary photography session? Get in touch & lets have a chat about what I can do for you & your family. You can email me at, & be sure to stop by & visit me on Facebook(
  • Celina - Mind blown! So much goodness in one post I can hardly handle it! Seriously, it is so fun seeing them all together…You rock!ReplyCancel

    • Natasha Kelly Photography - Thank you1 And yes, how different is it seeing them all together! Crazy! xReplyCancel

  • Kim - Natasha! These are wonderful! So proud of you!ReplyCancel

    • Natasha Kelly Photography - Thanks so much Kim xReplyCancel

  • Lacey - Yay! What a year it has been! I love your messy little children and really hope to make it over there some day and here them chatter on at me in their little aussie accents. It will happen! By the by, I think color imagery is really where you shine! The more colors the better for you!ReplyCancel

    • Natasha Kelly Photography - Thank you! And yes, one day! xReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - Just awesome! Love it all!ReplyCancel

    • Natasha Kelly Photography - Thanks so much, Rebecca!ReplyCancel

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