there was a time when the camera rarely left my hands. when the kids were little, i wanted to capture every moment, every activity, document how they grew and changed seemingly overnight. as they got older, there was less to photograph. by the time henry was in high school, the only pictures i took of him were at swim meets; around the same time, harper started to refuse the camera altogether. and then the camera was replaced by the phone, because it was faster and more accessible.
during that time, i've also shot fewer clients. i still have the occasional family ...
and a few seniors every summer and fall, but i no longer advertise. last summer, as covid took away proms and graduations, i put out a notice to a local high school parent group that i would donate graduate photos to families, in exchange for a donation to the local food shelf. in the end, i shot about 20 kiddos and raised more than $300 for the food shelf over the course of a month.
that felt good.
i still love the camera. i still love capturing who people are without them even noticing. and i still love documenting how my kids have grown and changed, even though i know those days are numbered.
before henry headed back to college for his junior year this past august, i got him and harper to humor me with their time and cooperation. they were awkward at first, then started to loosen up and have fun. then they were goofballs, and i adored what i was getting from them.
and then henry spun harper around in a bear hug, she fell on her bum, and that was the end of the fun.
we've seen henry only twice since then, and over thanksgiving i set up the camera on the dining table and took a family photo for the holiday cards. once a year, i manage to get a family photo. sometimes it even turns out.
i'm glad i was able to capture him with his new mop of long, pandemic curls and face full of scruff, and harper letting herself be snuggled up by him.
since then, the camera has stayed quiet. then harper turned 16 two weeks ago, and i asked her to please let me do a little birthday photo shoot with her. she complied - amazingly - and gave me about 30 minutes of patience and cooperation. afterward, i was amazed that she looked so relaxed. without going into too much personal detail, the past year has been full of many challenges with her, not the least of which she hasn't stepped foot into a classroom for more than a year, and hasn't seen any friends in person since october, when her completely strange high school swim season ended. however, the one huge positive to come out of all the pain of the first semester of distance learning is that we explored other school options, and found an arts charter school 20 minutes from home. she has attended virtually for a quarter, and should be able to start in-person school two days a week by the end of next week. she has LOVED the teachers, the classes, getting to know classmates over virtual classrooms, finding that they are all a little like her in all the best ways. maybe that renewed sense of confidence and hope is what showed up in her face while i photographed her, because for the first time in many, many months, she looked happy with and in herself.
and, apparently, when you take a girl out of her hoodie, jammie pants, and ponytail, she suddenly also looks so 16.
the next day, though, we had to do an addendum shoot. all she asked for for her birthday was a haircut for the first time in more than a year, and maybe add some color ... something a little fun. so that's what we did, and she suddenly looked even MORE 16, if that's possible.
ugh. she's gorgeous. i can't handle it.
i'm still trying to decide if i get back in the game or if the camera takes on hobby status. on one hand, i truly love making photos and giving people gorgeous glimpses of their family or child ... especially those seniors. on the other hand, as my nest inches toward empty, marc and i are making plans to travel more, try on new places, perhaps live abroad at some point, and maybe my photography is just a hobby ... or maybe i try selling art prints? i don't know. options are there.
i have zero love for the business side, and am admittedly terrible at that aspect, but as marc says, "you can't do something for nothing." i just like giving people joy; them giving me money feels extremely awkward. then there's the whole conversation about monetizing a passion: should we? should we not? if not, what do i do with the rest of my life?
this all feels way bigger than "i take pictures." once again, i'm reminded that therapy would probably be a good idea, but i digress.
anyway, there are still photographs to make, and i like making them.