Our family session is next week and I’m kind of freaking out. I knew this day was coming, but I wish I had more time. Time to lose the weight. Time to get my hair and makeup done. Time to find the perfect outfit. Time to fix my smile. I could go on and on.
I booked a session with you because I am in love with your art. When I met you last year at the Wildflowers Workshop, I fell in love with your soul too. You have this amazing ability to read people and capture their essence on film. The way you photograph families is genuine and honest and I wanted so badly for you to document my family.
Now that the time is here though, I am terrified. Part of me wants to call you and cancel. I’m not ready. I’m not ready for the reality of my family reflected in your eyes. I love my little family, but we are far from perfect. We fight. We yell. We struggle to enjoy each other. It’s been weighing heavy on my heart lately. My fear is that you’ll see this. That you’ll notice a disconnect. That it’ll show through in the images.
My girls are getting older and now, more than ever, I have been thinking about their childhood and whether they’ll remember it as a happy one. When they tell stories to their grandchildren, will they recall the times we laid a blanket out on the front yard and just listened to music? Or the times we ran through the grass chasing butterflies? Or the rainy days we spent painting, watching movies, and playing hide and seek? Or will they remember the unkind words, the hurt feelings, the tears. The times we said “go away.”
I’m not sure why I’m putting so much pressure on myself. It’s just a family photo session. A few hours in an otherwise ordinary day. But, the end result is important to me. Portraits of me and my family together and happy. Evidence that we tried. Even if it’s only for the camera.
I wonder if every family feels like this. Do I have a more emotional connection to photographs because I’m a photographer myself? I’m sure the nerves are always there, but do parents really know just how important family pictures are? When relationships become difficult and the stress of daily life gets overwhelming, do they know that a photograph can wash it all away? I could have a terrible day, but I will still smile when I look at a picture of my girls chasing the waves at the beach last summer.
So Joy Prouty, when I show up to our photo shoot, will you be able to read the anxiety of my face? Will you notice me tug and pull at my clothes and try to hide my crooked teeth when I smile? Will you tell me it’s ok when my girls start bickering or my 8 year old begins to whine? Will you see the hope in my eyes? I wonder.