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Archive for the ‘Charitable Endeavors’ Category

Today I am 28, I was born in a blizzard, married in a blizzard, last year got snowed in with all my dearest friends in the blizzards, and it has snowed every year on birthday even if only a few flurries.  In 28 years, I married the love of my life, have two of the cutest, funniest, most beautiful children who are healthy and happy and wonderful {not that I’m at all biased}  We bought our forever home, close to family, in the right school district, and both the hubby and I have fantastic careers that we are passionate about and enjoy doing.  I have made some excellent friends, have fantastic clients, and amazing mentors that have helped push the studio to unimaginable successes this year.  I own not only my own home, but my own studio, and have an incredible assistant that keeps everything running smoothly and is one of my best friends.  All my very oldest and dearest friends got engaged or married this year, and my very favoritest girlfriend and sister in law gave me a beautiful little nephew that I adore.  My birthday very often gets roped in with Christmas, which is ok because it is my favorite holiday, and I am so lucky that counting my blessings would be like trying to count each of the many christmas lights I am going to make Michael hang later tonight…

All that being said, there isnt much on my wish list for my birthday/christmas this year, so instead of getting gifts I’d like to give some.  So if you go to http://www.facebook.com/JessicaLarkPhotography, you’ll be able to keep an eye on the statuses and see what we are giving away, everything from prints, portrait sessions, and studio time, to portfolio reviews, studio consultations, and free admission into one of our seminars.  I want to give you what you want, so feel free to make a suggestion, it’s hard coming up with 28 ideas off the top of my head today.

My thanks to you and the parts you play in my life that make it so wonderful ❤

 

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I’ve been trying to find the words for this post… sometimes I think we become photographers so we can say things words fall short of accurately expressing.  The source I can’t recall at this moment, but heard somewhere, someone say “there must be a separate heaven for children.”  Last year I joined Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, but conveniently ‘forgot’ to send in the agreement after paying the donation because I wasnt sure it was something I could do.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with the organization they are a collection of photographers that provide memorial portraiture to families whose infants will not, or did not survive.  We essentially provide the very first and last portrait session for that child and family in hopes that the images might help with the grieving and healing process, and give them a way to hold onto those few, precious, fleeting moments.

I actually consider myself to be a pretty good source of strength in a crisis.  I tend to fall apart afterwards on my own, but in the moment I am often very calm and collected momentarily until the worst has passed…perhaps it just takes that long for my mind to process what just happened.  So when I received the call from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia I was both apprehensive and honored to be a part of such an intimate and personal experience, and to be able to preserve those few stolen moments they had with her, so they could hold onto them after.  No one should have to watch their children die… Just at CHOP alone they have on average 2-3 a week.  I can’t imagine a pain more deep or cutting.  It has been agony for me, and I am just the photographer.

I consider myself very lucky that this sweet little girl’s ailments was entirely interior, and outside she was just a beautiful little cherub of a baby, I know some of my fellow photographers have had some really intense sessions with children who have injuries and other disfigurations that are very hard to see, let alone photograph in a manner that allows people to see the beloved little souls the parents hoped for and not their wounds or illnesses, I’m not sure I’d have had the courage for such an undertaking in my first session, it has been haunting me on it’s own, and she was perfect looking.  My heart aches for all the parents that have lost their children…  so much.   I dont think I’ve ever held my kids as tightly as I did that night.  There was a few minutes where I slipped into my familiar photographer cloak, and it felt momentarily like any other newborn session I have photographed…the mother cried the entire session of course, and I have no words for my admiration of her courage and strength in those few hours we spent together.  At one moment it completely overwhelmed her, and at her request I took her sweet little girl to take some photos of her by herself, in the maybe 5 steps from her mother’s arms on the chair, to the pillow we had laid out for her, the photographer armor melted completely away from me and the vulnerability of being a mother myself ached to just set the camera down and hold her.  She reminded me so much of Cadence when she was born, probably more of a psychological than an actual physical resemblance.  She only lived about 15 minutes off life support, which she had been on since she was born.  Her mother had never gotten to hold her freely, and in the midst of all that agony, and heartbreak, and sorrow, there was a moment when her mother took her in her arms and looked at her for the first time without a breathing tube and wires, and she opened her eyes and looked back, and new her mother, recognized her; even though it was the first time she was really getting to see her.  That, and her father’s lips on her forehead, her little hand wrapped tightly around her mother’s finger, and the immense love, and peace of being in their arms, I photographed all of it, and was grateful that any part of my being there, or anything I could give them might bring them even the smallest comfort, even if not for some time.  I suppose that sentiment, is what inspired the creation of the organization, and what fills the hearts of the volunteers with enough strength to photograph session after session.

I of course felt an immense sense of despondency the entire way home… it didn’t help that I borrowed Martha’s car, and promptly locked the keys and my cell phone in the car at the gas station after the session, which resulted in a 45 minute wait and $75 fee to get the car unlocked.  I was exhausted when I got home, snuck quietly upstairs to tuck my kids in a second time, kissed Cadence and Steven, went in my room and cried until I heard Michael climbing the stairs to see where I disappeared to.

I talked to my dad about it the next day, he told me it was a pretty version of death, and something that should make me consider if I took this so hard would I be able to handle Uganda when there aren’t sterile hospitals, and I watch children laying in the dirt sick or dying, and filling me with the same sense of hopelessness that I can do nothing to change their situation… I guess, just like these moments were captured and preserved for her family to have in their mourning, and their healing, so they could hold some piece of her always, I feel that photographing children, people; who have no voice of their own I can give them one through their images, to say the things words do not convey.

I am grateful for the experience, although it has been haunting me, my grandfather told me, whenever you feel sorry for yourself do something for someone else who is worse off.  It certainly does change your perception on your own situation.  It’s also reinforced again how important our photographs are, because these moments are just that: moments.  And then they are gone… This may not be the last photo you’ll have of them, but it’s the last one you’ll take at this moment, this time, this age, this memory.

It’s not about the photos, it’s about what they represent, what they capture, and that the emotion and essence of that moment will come right back to you every time you see the image… what matters more?  What are you waiting for?  Would you be more inclined to pull out your camera, to hire a photographer if someone in your family was terminally ill?  Was dying?  Was leaving?  How many more moments would you have to cherish if you treated every moment like it was?



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