You have finally booked your session with me. You’ve been putting it off for various reasons, but finally I get to photograph you and your beautiful family.
Okay. Two scenarios.
Scenario One: Ever since the moment you booked with me, you’ve spent weeks scouring Pinterest and shopping for the perfect clothes. You’ve gone on a crash diet to drop 10 “el bees” before I get there. You have purchased a Botox deal on Living Social. Botox sort of goes against what you believe in, but you convince yourself that your daughter is still too young to notice these things and so you go for it. After all, “do as I say, not as I do” and the bruises faded just in time.
It’s now the morning of your session. The diet you’ve been on for the past few weeks has made you cranky. The cranky face, however, isn’t noticeable. Many thanks to the Botox rendering your face emotionless. All morning you’ve been begging and bribing your kids with M&M’s. Please, dear children, behave and smile and act natural for Trish Reda. But the sugar has done it’s job and the kids are running all over the house in their underwear so fast that you can’t catch them. Your spouse is standing in front of the television watching the Laker game. The volume is slowly going up as the pitch of the kids’ voices gets higher. At this point, the most you are hoping for is that their excessive expression and excitement will distract from your “tox-face” in the portrait.
Ok, stop! I’m stressing out.
Scenario Two: No diets. No drama. It’s 7:45 on a Saturday morning. You and the spouse just poured some coffee and you’re sipping it on opposite ends of the couch in the living room. You’re playing “Words With Friends” with each other on your own separate iPads. Jack Johnson’s, “Curious George” album is playing soft and low. The children are coloring and giggling at the breakfast table. The morning light bounces off of their tossled hair and creates sparkles on the wall behind them. It’s that magic hour really. That time of the day when your kids are naturally the happiest and relaxed. Beautiful moments happen after a good night’s sleep and when there is nothing to do, nowhere to go.
There is a knock at your door…
Okay, so I’m going slightly overboard. I realize. First off, I don’t judge the use of “tox”. I myself, may or may not have dabbled (I’ll never tell). Second, I really don’t think you’re nearly as crazy as “parent A” in Scenario One. Nor do I really think I’m anything close to Mary Poppins with a camera bag. But I am nothing, if not dramatic. Also, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t imagine music starting to play when I crossed your threshold. But not show tunes. Maybe Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money“.
My point is this. These images were all taken during moments prior to scheduled sessions. Both were out of town sessions where I knew the families and started shooting the kids before anybody was technically ready. And you know what? They’re my favorites. I love the texture of messy hair and jammies. I love the story that a harmless bruised knee tells. I love what a relaxed and chilled out hour can lend to your images.My point is this. These images were all taken during moments prior to scheduled sessions. Both were out of town sessions where I knew the families and started shooting the kids before anybody was technically ready. And you know what? They’re my favorites. I love the texture of messy hair and jammies. I love the story that a harmless bruised knee tells. I love what a relaxed and chilled out hour can lend to your images.
So let me come early. Keep the kids in their pajamas or swim suits or undies. Give me a cup of coffee. Black or with grass fed heavy whipping cream (don’t ask). Head up to your room and get yourself ready. Heck! Go crazy and pour yourself a glass of champagne even. Let me hang out alone with your kids for just a bit. Magical things happen for this photographer when you parents step out of the room. Let me have some of those moments before “the real shoot”. I know that these are the ones that will be my favorite and I’m make’n bets that they’ll be yours too.
So this photograph.
I remember being in HER shoes. I remember Gracie’s Papa spraying everybody down with Lysol when they walked through our front door. I remember how I felt when I walked into the room and overheard him tell her that he would slay dragons for her. I remember sleeping during the day and staring at Gracie’s wide awake face at three in the morning. I remember being really grateful for 3:00 a.m. moments because nobody would interrupt us. I remember my body not feeling like my own and my boobs seemed to be out more often than they were in. I remember not caring about that. I remember watching my nieces and nephew hold her in the hospital with very little fear of their germs. I remember that feeling of intense peace mixed with a feeling of heightened vulnerability that only a newborn can bring. I remember finally *knowing* the mother’s love the way I had always heard about. There is nothing like it. And to my point, I remember knowing that she’d be 11 in no time. And just like walking into Disneyland I held my breath and soaked in the fleeting beautiful moment.
Gracie is eleven now. For sure the two of us are still at Disneyland. But sometimes when I walk into your home, I am overtaken by my own memories of her sweet babiness. Ultimately, this is why I don’t put your babies in giant pea pods or in jars full of jelly beans. Because absolutely nothing can be more perfect than this moment. Nothing.
Have a beautiful weekend, people. Maybe take a picture or two.