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It has been far too long since my last entry…the only excuse I can think of is that my creative brain has become so full the past few months of moments of joy and inspiration, that it has been hard for me to pick out just one thing at any moment to write about. So while the blog has been missing, I have not been silent at work! Thank you to those who continue to entrust me with capturing their most precious moments. I am continually humbled to do the work I do, blessed to step foot into your lives if for just a moment, and overjoyed to deliver to you images that make your hearts smile.
Last weekend I photographed a family reunion, and told the story with my camera. I knew one of the families, and another member only through Facebook. There were more than thirty people gathered at Turtle Lake Campground on a cloudy, rainy and surprisingly chilly Saturday. I blended into the rhythm, and quietly snapped away for four hours…paying attention to tender moments of connection, emotions, and the activities. I could write a book about all that’s gone through my head since photographing this very special family, but will try to sum it up in a few thoughts…
…make the effort to connect with those you love. We are given today, a living and precious gift, and it is up to us on how to live it. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, so live for the present. Don’t wait, connect. You are beautiful just how you are, right now. Take care of your elders, they have taken care of you. Treat them with respect, love them, touch, and breathe in their peace. Laugh a lot. Encourage your kids to play, to be, to connect in a positive way with each other. Help watch out for others’ kids. Pray with and for each other. When it gets hard, connect more. Ask for help, share your burdens with those you love. Eat good food. Don’t complain about things you cannot change, like the weather – but embrace it and continue on. Buy good coffee. Be interested in each other. Welcome outsiders. When you say good-bye, stay in touch. Get everyone together yearly. Take family pictures…be YOU in your family picture so you can recognize yourselves. Love deeply.
I want to divert a bit from the photos I’ve been busy editing and projects I’ve been working on for a personal story. It has touched my heart so much, I feel inspired to share – so here goes!
My 7 year old has struggled for some time with being scared at bedtime. She has a nightlight, we keep the hall light on, and she has several “snuggly” items in bed with her. We chalk it up to an easily suggestible, very creative and imaginative mind. When peers in her classroom talk about “bloody mary” and the “dogman,” it doesn’t just go in one ear and out the other for her – it stays with her for quite some time. And she works through it at bedtime. Last night she was particularly upset, and I was balancing the line between being motherly and simply letting her be. I was near her bed, completely out of ideas, just repeating what I say every night when in pops her older brother. [side note - our kids fight just like any other sibling pair, I just choose to share the wonder moments:)] I’m sure she was thinking he was ready to tell her to quit all the fussing, when out of his mouth comes, ‘here Payton, this rock has really helped me [hands her a good size rock]…it takes all bad thoughts and dreams from you and replaces them with good ones…all you have to do is keep it by you…you can keep it for however long you need.’ Stunned mom….stunned sister….no one said anything for a good 2 minutes, but she examined the rock, I’m sure looking for a trick of some kind as her brother is quite the magician! He kept encouraging her to take it, and she did. The moment ended with him hugging her and saying ‘good night, I love you,’ to which it was responded to with the same from her. And get this…she was quiet!!! She totally believed it, not another word came from her mouth and she fell fast asleep!
I’m still stunned, a day later. Tonight as she was laying in bed, I heard her shout “mom! I SAW the bad dreams leaving!!!”
I’m pretty proud of my son for recognizing a need, and working in his brain for a way that he could help. He responded so compassionately, so patiently…it was so sweet. It reminded me yet again of the purity in their hearts…and that they do indeed like each other:) I love those kids!!
A friend of mine emailed me a few weeks ago, asking if I’d be open to photographing a fundraiser for a local youth battling brain cancer. The fundraiser would take place at Blue Oxer Farm in Cedar, MI. Of course, I said! It is my opinion that it is crucial for us to be connected to our larger community and also for us to give back – in whatever shape that take for each individual person. When I say “crucial,” I mean for our own happiness and ability to live life to the fullest. For I think that is quite simply how we are wired. We are wired to be connected, to be community. So even though I do not know this young gal or her family, I have a camera, I know how to use it, and I love to tell the story! I gave a gift to this family, but throughout it all, I also received a gift – the gift of giving.
Upon arriving, I met Abby Gross and her parents, and then began my exploration shooting. In my mind, my focus was on “the story…on telling the story.” So I looked for the experiences, watched the people, captured expressions and caught the moments. Here are some favorites from the afternoon…
I hope you all had a very happy Easter this past weekend! My folks were able to drive over from Minnesota to share the weekend with us. And as is usually the case, the time went by incredibly fast, and was filled with many a memory. I find myself riding the fence of wanting to photograph every moment of times like this and wanting to soak in the moments minus the camera. I AM in the moment when I’m shooting, but it is often in a different way that when I’m not. As I get older, I find it easier to judge the situation and come to the best answer for me. This past weekend, I focused on documenting our adventure to Point Betsie, on Lake Michigan.
My dad brought his video camera, and lost it to my son – who proudly took over the videography. I’m excited to see his finished product!
My dad is a Teacher, and a scientist…I love it when he’s here, for all the science type questions my kids come up with can be directed to him! And in his gentle and patient way, he entertains their questions. I think he’s talking about the ice formations we discovered where the water meets the wall.
My beautiful mom soaking up a few moments.
Ah, it’s that rare photo that I am IN!! With two of the three loves of my life…
As I stood off in the distance, capturing their interactions, I heard the crashing of the waves, the cool breeze, and my son playing his harmonica. It was absolutely beautiful.
I’m thankful for the memories.