The first time I did a paid portrait session, I put a baby in a basket. She looked really uncomfortable. I thought I had to. If you had a camera and someone was paying you to take pictures of their adorable baby, you were supposed to have props: bean bags and heaters and baskets and all sorts of hats and accoutrements to put on said baby’s head. I’m so thankful I found another way- the way that is authentically me.
When I began to dig deep into who I am, what is important to me- not as a business owner or a photographer but just as a person- I found that real life, specifically the life that families weave together in their homes and the connections that happen all throughout those little unseen, daily moments are what matter to me. Being a mother is the most important role in my life, aside from belonging to God and being a wife, though some days motherhood takes a disproportional relationship to my other roles. The moments that make me ache with longing, that I try so hard to memorize and savor the deepest are the in-between moments: the giggle fits during a diaper change, the stolen hugs during dinner prep, miraculous moments of sibling love, and the light….always the light that bathes us in grace.
I recently found myself on the other side of the camera. It’s always good to experience a taste of what my clients feel in preparing for a shoot. I tell them not to worry about their house not looking “perfect”, that I want to capture their real life as-is, in a beautiful way and that they will want to remember the toys littering the floor these fleeting years. And yet I found myself cleaning and reorganizing my home (not that it didn’t need it anyway). I tell them not to worry about their outfits coordinating, to let the kids pick out the clothes they are most comfortable in, and that if you feel good you will look good. I probably tried on three different things and asked my husband “How does this look?”
But the thing is, I really, really really believe that your life, my life, is worth capturing as it is. The moments of families being together, being themselves, make my heart sing. They are my “thin places“. Those moments give me glimpses into something other. They hint at a reality beyond what I can see with these earthly eyes.
It’s not my cup of tea to make your family look like a magazine cover. Or worse, a toothpaste or cereal ad. You are so much more than that. I guess it comes back to authenticity. I want you to feel free to be your authentic self, not just a dressed-up image of who you think you’re supposed to be. I totally get how it’s a little nerve wracking to be in front of the camera and trust the photographer to really SEE you, see the best you and the beauty of your life. But I don’t want a portrait session to be another opportunity for the voice of shame: You’re not enough. Your house isn’t nice enough, your clothes aren’t nice enough, your body isn’t good enough, your kids aren’t smiley enough……
You are enough. Your life is perfect because it’s yours and its a life no one else can live. Trust me.