Student Projects: Sham of the Perfect



Beyond major life milestones like marriages and births, vacations and holidays, when you think about your favorite memories with loved ones, what comes to mind? For many of us we recall everyday rituals like sitting around the dinner table together as a family, playing in a muddy back yard after a rainstorm, or just snuggling up in bed for story time. Real, imperfect moments where we are present and engaged with the people we love, forgetting about whether our hair is perfect or if our house is clean.

It’s these uncomplicated and unscripted moments in family life that a group of DEFINE alumni has joined together to capture and celebrate through their group, Sham of the Perfect.  Spearheaded by Visual Storytelling students, Lacey Monroe, Erika Roa and Natasha Kelly, and quickly growing to a group of 15 family documentary photographers from the same class, the group has set-out to capture the beauty of everyday moments in their own life through a weekly blog post of personal images.

“So many of us moms feel frustrated and overwhelmed with the pressure to conform to the picture-perfect life that is presented to us every day in the media and on sites like Pinterest,” says Lacey. “There is no way your real life can ever measure up. We wanted to document the reality of our families instead, to show how beautiful real life can actually be. Sometimes it’s messy, sometimes it’s loud, but it can also be quiet and peaceful – and on the rare occasion, even clean!”

The group’s weekly posts are a collection of thoughtfully captured, small moments and observations from a mother’s honest perspective: toddlers standing on kitchen countertops, kids diving into laundry baskets while unfolded clothes are strewn around them, and, as the weather has become warmer, carefree outside play with dad and siblings. The images serve at once as reminders of the magical details of our childhood as well as inspiration to stop and appreciate the fleeting moments of our days as parents that we all too often often skip over in the busyness of life.

Below are images from the lives of the collective members, who hail from across the U.S., Canada, Australia and the UK.


Celina Bailey



Heather Bowser 

bowser define


Jodie Byrne



Chrystal Cienfuegos 



Elisa Elliot 



Vicki Hull

Hull Def-let (1 of 2)


Natasha Kelly

Natasha Kelly Define-1


Michelle McDaid 



Lacey Monroe



Erika Roa 



Gemma Robillard



Jenny Rusby



Robin Stephenson 



Jessica Uhler



Kym Vitar

vitar define (1)



If you are inspired by this way of capturing life, the collective invites you to share your beautiful everyday too. They feature their favorite work tagged with #shamoftheperfect on Instagram, run a monthly themed blog post with entries via their Facebook page, and encourage photographers with a similar vision to submit their work to be featured on the Sham of the Perfect website. Through expanding the community beyond the collective’s members, the group’s goal is to give other families permission to let go of creating or presenting a sanitized version of their lives in favor of finding and cherishing the beauty that already exists right in front of their eyes.

You can see the group’s work on their website or join-in on Facebook and Instagram.

// featured image by DEFINE student and Sham of the Perfect member Natasha Kelly

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