There is a quote I recently discovered that really stirred something in me.
It read simply,
“The one thing in life you have to do. Be the lighthouse. -Yogi Bajan
It resonated because as much as I love photography- I could easily do that for myself. I would be content to simply photograph my family all the live long day. Going out and photographing for others, that is a labor of love. It takes guts.
It isn’t that you don’t find inspiration in others. No, there is something inspiring in documenting all things and all people. You can make a beautiful photo out of just about anything with the right vision. Opening up to strangers and trying to authentically capture moments however, that makes you vulnerable. You are putting these raw pieces of yourself out there every single time you click that shutter. We are bearing witness to the beauty in others and then in turn trying to show them just how special they are. I throw it all out there with every session. I am in the trenches with my families. I know there are countless talks on balance and the art of saying “no.” I subscribe to that to some extent and as a people loving introvert have to retreat at times to make sure there is enough of me for my own people. But being there well beyond what’s maybe expected– being a safe harbor and a light to others. It’s in turn a gift to ourselves as well. Many occupations are disguise for a more important purpose. When I decided to become a professional photographer, I didn’t realize what a special opportunity I had in being able to be present for others. Art just transcends beyond it’s physical properties.
Every family I photograph has a story all their own. Like each one of us, the commonality is that even though it isn’t always happy or easy or uncomplicated, they are beautiful. Our stories are all worth telling. In fact I feel most of our stories carry weight, they are messy and we can be broken while still finding strength and inner peace deep rooted in the best parts of us. Grief is part of the human condition too. It makes us both softer and harder. It is restorative in the way of tearing down our walls… even if we aren’t ready for them to come down.
When I met this amazing Mama and we started planning her session, I was in awe of her heart for life and her pride for her family. She sent me the sweetest photos of her precious little red headed boy. I fell in love right off.. with her and her family. Many of the families that do book me let me into their lives and embrace me in a dynamic that goes well beyond a photographer-client relationship. I am there with them. I enjoy watching their children grow, when they pop in and say hello and more than anything getting to hug them again when they come back (because I feel incredibly fortunate that even if it is years later, they do.)
And then this Mama lost her sister months before we were supposed to meet for her session, and my heart shattered for her. The truth is, her story isn’t mine to tell. Maybe she will be comfortable in sharing all the pieces and details– but she showed up with a beautiful smile and a vulnerability that just shone through. It was so prevalent in our day and imprinted on her images. The change of scenery and the fresh mountain air has special healing powers, I am convinced of it. To say that I was in awe of her bravery and coming despite all that she had faced in that moment, that would be a huge understatement. In all of this I have witnessed her really find her way back to the light, even if slowly. I am so proud of her.