For the third year in a row I got to hang out with the Masson family, who commissioned me for an family documentary photography session in their Seattle home. The first time, Oliver was just a teeny newborn! The first few years of a child’s life are so full of change and growth. Imagine if we kept changing as fast as when we were 1 or 2. Life would certainly be more interesting!

Looking back at when my own kids were this little, a part of me can’t help but feel nostalgic and sentimental. I know these were for sure, the hardest years for me- three kids under four and a husband deployed for a year to a war zone. Having young kids rocks your world in even the best circumstances, but yet I think about those early years with so much fondness. There are so many things I miss- the simplicity of our days and schedule, the naps (oh, the naps!), cuddling and reading or playing, the joy for their discovering the world and bonding with each other.

Certainly there are things I don’t miss, and I don’t want to romanticize how effing hard it was taking care of their near-constant needs, being sleep deprived and not able to even think about that elusive concept of self-care, battling depression as my hormones didn’t know which way was up. But even then I knew in rarified, golden moments of transcendence, those glimpses of LOVE and LIGHT in the middle of the most mundane things like lunch time or potty training, I knew there was an undercurrent to our days I would desperately miss. I knew even as the days dragged on through tantrums and discipline, or whining and meltdowns, that there was a river of love we were able to dip our toes into for refreshment, that we were creating the fabric of our family.

I knew even as I longed for a future where I could go grocery shopping without bringing extra snacks and snacks and diapers and sippy cups that time was moving too fast and I couldn’t stop it. And that is why I make pictures of my real life, my client’s real life.

“The portuguese call it saudade: a longing for something so indefinite as to be indefinable. Love affairs, miseries of life, the way things were, people already dead, those who left and the ocean that tossed them on the shores of a different ­land–­all things born of the soul that can only be ­felt” (Anthony de Sa- Barnacle Love)

It is a longing for someone or something that you remember fondly but know you can never experience again. It is a form of longing and homesickness. Saudade is the moment you realize how important people are in your life and the moments you have taken for granted.

And for me, photographing the world is my salve, my antidote.

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If you also suffer from saudade, book your own in-home storytelling session: contact Jess

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