Over the years I have refrained from sharing a ton of personal stuff about me on my blog. Of course you get the occasional happy milestone post for Willow, but I am not much of a raw, open bloggist (see Tara Whitney or Sheye Rosemeyer or one of my own best friends Amanda Pryde for that, all of whom I adore and follow). To be honest, I’m a “glass half full” kind of person anyway so I shy away from even thinking or talking about the painful things let alone putting them up on the intertubes for everyone to read.
I have built a business on creating beautiful pictures for Charlotte families that want to remember the joy and wonder of parenting young children. As a “lifestyle” photographer, I get to share very intimate moments with my clients. It is not a normal profession in the sense that you keep a facade around your clients. I need my clients to open up to my camera, be their authentic selves, and so I have to set the example by doing so myself. I see nursing moms sing lullabies to their babies, toddler temper tantrums, even occasionally babies entering the world at a photographed birth. This is so beautiful… this is LIFE. I get to hear stories… all different kinds of stories.. how families began, how families blended, how babies were prayed for and took years to conceive against all odds. These stories go into the heart and souls of the portraits that are created. I know that I say this all the time, but I truly love each of my clients. They each have rooted their own little spaces in my heart. I love their stories, I see their beauty, in EVERY moment.
I recently had a major event occur in my own life. I have gone back and forth for a while in my mind rolling around whether or not I should share it with my clients/ blog followers. Because it is Spring, my most favorite season of all, and because my life change surprised me by seeing how it has been shaping my career as a family photographer, I want to share it. About 4 months ago, I made the most difficult and painful decision in my life– to separate from my husband. Please know that this went against everything that was engrained in me from birth (I come from an Italian-Catholic family where these kinds of things just don’t happen). Also know that for 3 years, I tried everything— EVERYTHING to make it work. Marriage counseling, therapy, acupuncture, meditating, praying, crying, hoping, talking, not-talking, pleading with God, spending time by myself in nature. I have not even touched on everything but I am not *that* open of a person (once again see Tara Whitney 🙂 All the while there was a heaviness that had settled in my heart and it was beginning to crack my very foundation. The reasons why it didn’t work are inconsequential as there are two sides to every story and to tell you the truth– he is a wonderful, kind, loyal, generous man and would do the world for our daughter. Making this choice to dissolve a family unit while seeing only a slight glimmer of hope that down the road all 3 of us will be happier has been by far the scariest thing I’ve ever done. As I sit here today, several months later, I can tell you that it has been the best decision of my life. Letting go was hard, but what has happened to me in the short amount of time is something that I wish each and every person could experience in their lifetime (hopefully by another means than breaking apart a marriage!). My heart has literally burst open. I feel butterflies and life and love whirling out. There is movement and bliss flooding in where there has been stagnation for many years. I am in love with the possibilities that each day brings. Instead of retracting into a hardened shell, I absorb the love that I see before me– of old couples holding hands in the grocery store, of mothers lovingly scolding their children. When I work with families, I am almost brought to tears by the love that I see. I have let go of the agony and suffering that I held close for so many years and I can truly EXPERIENCE LIFE to the fullest– the way it was meant to be!!!! My work has changed because of this. I can appreciate the love that I see through completely clear eyes, I feel it deeper in my heart, and I have seen that sensitivity translate to my photographs.
So while I’m feeling all brazen and stuff, I am going to share a recent session. Because it is all about Love. A love between two human beings that has transcended 16 years, many life experiences, and social norms. If you look through my blog, you will see such a cross-section of families on there. You will see conservative Republican families, you will see Arty families with tattoos, crunchy hippie families that grow their own food, and mixed ethnicities. I think what draws this extreme cross section of families to working me are two things– they value beautiful photography, and they value AUTHENTICITY. They are ready to let their guards down a little bit and trust me when I ask them to open up and share a part of themselves with each other and with my camera.
I have been working with this family for several years and shamefully have refrained from blogging them. They’re a “hot button” couple- a controversial blend of biracial lesbian with a beautiful IVF daughter. I know this because when we are working together, we get looks, comments and stares. All that I see when I work with them is beauty and love, just as all of my other families. Their daughter, now 6, has got to be one of the most outgoing, confident, and downright happy little girls that I have ever had the pleasure of photographing. She is amazing in so many ways and so self-assured beyond her 6 years! She is the product of excellent parenting in a household that exudes kindness and tenderness as well as structure.
I have always held back on showing my same-sex families because selfishly I am afraid of how it will affect my business. Especially now that I am a single mama and need people to continue to book me. And I do realize that many of my clients are conservative leaning. However, just as I have been authentic with myself over the past few months, I want to be authentic with my prospective clients as well!! This family is beautiful in every sense of the word, and working with them fills me with hope that one day I will be this happy!! If I could find someone that loved me half as much as these two love each other, I would know that I’m the luckiest girl alive!!
I believe in Love. I believe in Respect. I believe in celebrating each and every day that we’re alive.