It's not about the photograph

I admire and respect photographers who take family portraits. I know first-hand the skill, planning, practice and devotion that such a task requires – because I tried it. The process of trying was good for me because it helped me to determine what I do not want to do.

I’ve long struggled with how to describe the kind of photography I practice – and I’m not the only one.

I read an interesting journal entry, Turn It Upside Down, by Kim Manley Ort, and she asks thoughtful questions.

Why do I take pictures?

“When I experience a connection with something in the moment just as it is, it reveals something universal that resonates deep inside. It’s magical. It changes me and the way I see. It cracks me open and I see how everything (including me) belongs. I continue learning and growing through my encounters.”

Why am I drawn to my camera as a companion?

“My mission in life is to fully experience and embrace life with my whole self – mind, body, and heart. I’ve found that my camera helps me to do this. While sometimes the camera can serve to distance ourselves from the world, and it’s important to know when this is happening, it can also help us to be more courageous – visit new places, meet new people, and connect in new ways.”

Kim goes on to say . . .

“In other words, it’s not about the photograph so much as it is about the experience and the connection. It’s more even than being mindful. It’s actively engaging with the world around me, exactly as it is.”

And Angie Dornier, of the inspirational collective ViewFinders, asks, Do you use your camera as a shield?

“I realize now, more than ever, how I really do use my camera as a shield.  It helps me gather the courage to walk into a room of strangers.  It covers my face as the tears well up at my son’s 5th grade ceremony.  It silences the loud voice at kids sporting events when I feel the urge to “help” the coaches.  It gives me a job at volunteer events so that I feel useful, even if I couldn’t be part of the planning and preparation.”

I’m still working through my own answers to questions like these. I am reassured by my uncertainty, open to trial and error, and steadfast in my commitment to make the pictures that are meant for me.

These photographs of my friend, Sarah, and her sweet little girl were not planned or prompted. I stopped by to visit while running errands and snapped a few frames on the spur-of-the-moment . . . mother and daughter sitting in the doorway and the peach tree in the garden. And every single view melts my heart. I can scarcely believe how blessed I am to witness human interaction in this way, and I love every minute.