I am quick to say that if you want perfectly centered image with tack sharp focus and perfect smiles and all eyes on the camera, then I am not the photographer for you. I’m not and you should know I’m not. Knowing that saves time and frustration for client and photographer. Be clear that I am not anti-perfect traditional images; it’s just not what I am good at. It doesn’t bring joy to my soul. That’s me and some of you too.
As well, if you know anything about my work, you know that I love the details and the close-up shots for families and couples. Yup, that may mean you’ll be missing a limb or even . . [gasp of horror] . . . a head! It’s true and to me, done the right way, it’s beautiful. (Fortunately, it’s beautiful for some of you too or otherwise I would be out of business.)
Here is a part of my story. The why behind my photographic eye and style. My reason why connection - images with emotion, texture and love - trump perfection for me every time.
I grew up in a single parent home. I was far away from father and extended family on either side. I had my mother and my siblings.That was the foundation for my understanding of family. I did not emotionally get the concept of aunts and uncles and cousins, but I did understand grandmother. Somehow, in my circumscribed world of family, I was blessed to know my paternal grandmother. She was quirky, sassy, fun-loving and on the go. I know little of her true life outside of the points where she touched my life as a child.
Even today, decades after her passing, I recall vividly her stone covered white sandals with the low square heels. I wish I had a pair now. I recall clearly the gift of the black vinyl Mickey Mouse purse that was shaped like a clock and Mickey’s hands were the dial. The never ending coloring books with the fresh box of crayons. I recall the gap in her teeth which was always visible from her ready smile. The tight hugs and the pats on the bottom that reassured that you were part of her tribe. What resonates most clearly in my memory is that she loved me and that she was somehow connected to the father I was rarely able to see. She was a link in my familial chain.
My grandmother, Edith Mae, died while I was still only in single digits. I remember lying on the floor in my mother’s bedroom as she took the call.My mind and heart refused to believe the news. My grandmother had died while visiting my father, her only child, in Oregon. It was joke. It had to be. I was the youngest of six and I was always at the end of someone’s rude joke. They weren’t going to get me this time. No way, no, no, no, no, no. . . so why was under a bed hiding and crying about a joke? Why did I feel like something was lost to me? A connection broken.
The funeral came and my siblings and I were sent south from California to Oklahoma for the burial. We arrived to be welcome by an army of relatives that consisted aunts, uncles, cousins and great these and 1st, 2nd, 3rd and eons of those. It was a living sea of genealogy and they were gathered together in unity for my grandmother. We were instantly taken in and received but I could fill throughout my entire time there that there was a connection between the Oklahoma clan that we from California were not part of. The easy laughter and inside jokes. A shared family knowledge that did not extend to us. A connection that was very tangible to a little girl who had lost her only understood connection to extended family. That connection was so desirable to me and it would prove to be elusive to me all my life.
I never grew any closer to my paternal family nor to my maternal family either. It has only been recently that my mother has renewed her familial relationship with her loved ones in Texas. For me, it has always felt like both sides are lost to me because distance can make strangers of us all. That applies to physical, emotional and mental distances as well.
I had hoped to gain greater familial connection in marriage, but unbeknownst to me, my former husband was an addict and eventually his addiction strained his own familial fabric to a breaking point.
I repeat the cycle of single parenthood and my children now have a circumscribed family life as well. Yet, God has graced us with good friends and neighbors who readily embrace my little clan and for that extension of love and community we are ever grateful.
My children do know their extended family. They love them and are loved by them, but close proximity and connection which I had hoped for them to ave is simply not there. So connection is a longing for me. I see it everywhere and my eye and heart celebrate. It is why I don’t want you looking at me and the camera. I want you looking at one another, laughing, playing, interacting. Connecting.
My art reflects my desire for connection. Yes, family is messy, chaotic and at times, painful. But those strands are woven with other textures of families being joyful, supportive, loving, crazy and off kilter. When I capture families, regardless of who or what makes up your family, I want to celebrate the rawness and beauty that binds us together as a family. I believe it is one of our greatest treasures in this world. I want to celebrate the textures and nuances that make life so worth living. My images are not perfection based, but people based and that’s how I love it. I hope some of what I do resonates with you.
Now share what drives your passion? What encourages you to go your own way and to embrace your own style? What is the why in your story?