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Archive for the ‘Petite Couture’ Category

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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In the last few days we officially transitioned, our house is off the market, going to a wonderful couple, who we will be lucky enough to call friends, the wife is a wedding caterer, the husband national guard AGR, and their kids love the house too. On the side of the coin, our new house did appraise well, the in depth contractor inspections also came back better than we hoped, and it is a healthy balance between being able to move in but also have some leverage for price negotiations. The stress both homes were pressing on either side of us has subsided, and given us room to focus on other matters, which drastically improved the husband’s performance, and allowed me to edit and deliver all last week’s wedding photos in under 72 hours, prepare for the 4 upcoming events, and therefore I am in a comfortable lull… I have had time to take my kids to the park, bake with cadence, make real dinners, encourage steven’s walking {he just started a few days ago and is barely crawling at all anymore}
The new home encompasses so much of what we hoped for, the grounds are huge, and beautiful, and when we were there for the inspections this weekend it warmed my heart to see Cady playing in our new yard. The home is smaller than the one we’re in now, which for the moment is a benefit because it is less to maintain with our busy schedules, but still offers the room when ready to add on and piece by piece turn it into our dream home. My career as a photographer is thriving, beyond my hopes for it this year, but I can control the depth of it, and keep enough to benefit us financially, and satisfy my artistic nature, but still have time to witness the important and wonderful moments having a family gives me. I am so in love with my family and my life right now, am looking forward to being close to family and friends, having a housewarming party, and beginning the best part of my life with my husband in the home we both see our selves growing old in, and are lucky enough to have at an age when most of those our age are still at home with their parents or in their first apartments. It’s a difficult thing to weather the storms and hardships of being a family it is not for the faint of heart to take on marriage and children… most people just dont have the strength and will and courage to gut it out when it’s less than good let alone when it’s at its worst, but moments like this make it worth enduring any heartache… and inspite of any sorrows or hurt I have suffered for my marriage and family, at the end of the day, my husband is my best friend, and the father of two most wonderful parts of my life…. and though I sometimes lose patience and feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of being a wife and mother, I would rather hear my children cry then to never know the sound of their voice, and would gladly endure any trial my marriage has suffered to have gotten to this point where I can honestly say, I have everything I ever wanted out of life, and still have most of my life left to enjoy it

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Yeah, he’s adorable… I think I’ll actually send this in to canon.

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