Do you ever hear or see something that struck you so deeply on the inside you couldn’t get it out of your head for days after? A concept so fervent it protrudes your current way of thinking and forces you re-examine your life, how you live it, and how you can make it mean more?
Last Thursday I checked up on a blog of one of my favorite photographers (Wildflowers Photography) and was sucked into a very vulnerable and heartfelt post she wrote about reassessing her art as a photographer and what she truly wants to capture for her clients and for her own personal memory.
Here are some of my favorite snippets from this post:
“When we moved into our new house last year, I pondered what to hang on the walls. Our old photo canvases and prints were still in storage. I thought back on all of our professional family photos and realized that I had also avoided hanging those at our old house; they sat for years in a pile on our bedroom floor. When I looked at those pictures, I always remembered how I’d felt during the shoot, and it felt heavy. I remembered how much Gracie hated the scratchy dress I told her she had to wear, how Donny and I argued on the way there. I saw the antique props that I purchased the day before to look like they had character and stories. But the stories were not ours.
And, over the years as a photographer, with each client session that I photographed, I began to cringe whenever the parents quietly begged their children to behave, and bribes were on hand to help hide away the tears. When the sun finally set, and I said “finished,” it was common that the parents would allow their shoulders to finally relax; the children would kick off their shoes; and that’s when the authentic beauty would shine the brightest. But by then the daylight had already faded, and my camera was put away.”
“People have asked me, at times, to create fantasy type sessions for them that they have seen on Pinterest or in magazines. In digging deeper, I’ve uncovered a better story in my subjects, one that is authentically their own. It surprises my clients when I tell them the most magical and life-giving stories are happening in the quiet moments of their very own home. Where he proposed to her on the living room floor. Where they opened their wedding presents, and then, years later, where they brought their babies home from the hospital. And where they fold laundry and tell bedtime stories and prepare food to nourish their family. And where they cling to one another at the end of a long day, instead of to someone else’s idea of perfection.”
“When in American history did the idea of glorified perfection in photographs take hold? Photography changed when Kodak introduced the first consumer-friendly camera. Kodak advertisements featured celebrations and joyful events. Their slogans were all an effort to sell photography with happiness; “Kodak knows no dark days”, “Save your happy moments with a Kodak.” In time, these “Kodak moments” became the new American standard for how a pleasing, “happy” photo should look.”
“The idea of perfection had become more important than honesty.”
“So, with that, friends, I urge you to take notice. Notice when life is passing you by and fight to stay present. Fight against fear when it tells you that there isn’t anything worth remembering. Because those days become years; and, before you know it, you’ve missed it. Don’t miss it. Start documenting life in your own home. Don’t worry if there is still laundry on the floor from last week. Soon your babies will outgrow those clothes, and your hands won’t be as full, and when you look back at that photograph you took so many years ago, with little muddy shirts and pants on the floor, you will feel a longing just at the sight of it.
It is worth remembering.”
I think the reason this affected me so profoundly was because I applied it to so much more than just photography. I want to think this way when it comes to my house; how it makes me/the others who enter it feel. Just like a photograph, does my home reflect true emotion? Is it a canvas filled with the color and life that truly reflects my family’s heart or is it filled with things that other bloggers or Pinterest says looks good?”
Are the clothes that I wear and the way I present myself a mirror of the same thing? Why should my thrift store finds hold less value than my name brand clothes? The people who’s style I admire the most are the people who simply wear things because they love them, not because of the way it makes their butt look good or because it’s some designer brand.
Im becoming exhausted with trying to keep everything in my life well kept and put together. I’m starting to embrace the messy and see it instead as little reminders of things to be grateful for. And I’m not talking about just the tangible messy (crumbs on the counter, the left over remnants of a fort in the living room, the pile of clean laundry I’m too lazy to put away) I’m also talking about the mess in my mind (my insecurities, frustrations with my husband, the inner struggle to see past peoples flaws). I now see what these “messes” truly mean: I have food in my house, clothes to wear, a husband who drives me crazy but makes me feel more loved than anyone on this earth, and a circle of people who push me to grow to be more like Christ. Looking at these situations from this simpler perspective makes these so called messes actually quite beautiful.
“Whether the photo shoot lasts one hour or a whole day, I will always do my best to tell the most authentic story for my subjects. However, I can no longer ignore the whispering from my soul to push beyond the curtain of the golden hour…
I want more time with families.
I want to be in their homes for an entire day and night.
the tangled morning hair
the steam rising from the coffee pot
the frost on the windows
with traces of tiny fingerprints
from months of faces pressed against the glass
I want the messy.
the laundry on the couch
the scribbles on the wall
the height chart at the end of the hall with all the notches
the papers left on the counter
the muddy shoes kicked off by the front door
I want to sit on the dusty floor and listen to the sounds of the home.
the songs coming from the shower
the ice cream truck driving down the street
the humming of the fridge
the patching it all up.
I want to be there at 2am, in the quiet.
peeking in from the hallway
photographing the strip of light that falls
across the daddy rocking his baby in the moonlight,
as he cries and hopes he is doing it all right.
I want to sit at the kitchen table
and see a husband wrap his arms
around his wife’s hips
as she is making dinner at the stove.
I want to photograph
that little glimpse of hope
in the midst of the witching hour
as the toddler is melting down on the kitchen floor.
If there is sadness, I don’t want it hidden.
If there is bliss, I want dancing.
I want togetherness.
More than anything,
I want time
to allow everyone
to get comfortable enough to be honest,
whatever that looks like.”
If I can learn how to capture these things with my camera, I can only imagine the fulfillment I would feel handing these families their pictures instead of the intimidation I usually do in fear that they won’t be happy with the poses, the location, or how their hair looked.
Years down the road I can already see the tears streaming down my face as I look through old pictures of my children running through the sprinkler in the backyard, their little hands helping me in the garden, their chubby sleeping faces nestled on their fathers chest, the shot through the crack of the door when I peek in to find them giggling together in bed. The likelihood that I would feel the same emotion with posed family portraits where our clothes all coordinate and are told to say cheese is very slim.
I hope that this post wasn’t too wordy….ha! But mostly I hope that Joy’s words maybe got you thinking the way they did for me. It’s like a chiropractor for the mind. We all could use an adjustment now and then.
To read Joy’s entire post and see her amazing work, go here. I highly recommend it!