Thursday, September 25, 2014

the quintessence of life

IMG_6642This time of year is packed with photo shoots for me.  It’s busy, I’m up late editing, gone most Saturdays and always feeling a bit frazzled. Sometimes as I make my way to meet a family I wonder if it’s worth it.  And always when the session is over I’m sure that it is.  I really love meeting so many great families and getting the chance to witness and capture such intimate and beautiful connections.  Unhappy families don’t usually ask you to take family pictures.  I think I’m generally meeting families at a point where, although things might be crazy and hectic, things are happy and full. 

I always leave a session wishing I could know these families beyond the little bit of time I spend with them.  And then, somehow through editing their pictures, I feel like I do sort of get to know them.  When they look through the finished images I’m not sure they even see all the beauty that I do while working with them.  I spend so much time looking at each face and expression, the lights in their eyes, the organic joy beaming though a child’s face, the way they look at each other.  And something about looking for so long at an image transforms it, helps me to see beyond the light and composition into the real life that it’s capturing.  And it’s inspiring.

I’m sure I’m reading a lot into images as I go through and edit them.  I’m sure life in these families isn’t always as beautiful and perfect as it looks.  But I’m also sure that some of the things that I get to capture with my camera are little bits of the true essence of their family life.  The quintessence (as Sean O’Connor might put it:)).  And those are the bits that we don’t always see as we’re moving through family life.  They get buried under all the stress and commotion.  Sometimes it’s only through pictures that we see it.  And that, my friends is why I love photography.

So take a step back when you look at pictures.  Stop looking for flaws or little things you’d like to change.  Look at all the life and love captured.  It’s all there.  Snapped into a picture.  And one day, those little pictures will bring back floods of memories and we might just wish we could see all the joy right then in the moment.

Ok.  Enough.  Why can’t I just put up a little sneak peak post without waxing philosophical?  I really do love this job.

IMG_6378 IMG_6559    IMG_6723 IMG_6744 IMG_6785 IMG_6808  IMG_6812 saydishumway<br />photography IMG_6833 IMG_6858IMG_6848  IMG_6908 IMG_7084 IMG_7114 IMG_7155  IMG_7182 IMG_7207 IMG_7224 IMG_6613IMG_7229  IMG_7295 IMG_7312  IMG_7355               


Friday, September 19, 2014

Books and Apples 2014

 IMG_7695And the Brooksby Farms Apple picking tradition continues.  We went today, and it was a glorious 59 degrees with bright fall sun soaking through the crisp air.   It felt heavenly. Everything about it.  We’ve been doing this for years and the pictures always look like everything was seamless….but, toting around those 20 pound bags of apples and corralling crazy free kids while trying to take pictures isn’t always a walk in the park, especially those years I did it while wearing a baby.  Some of those years I just had to survive it, lots of joy, but not lots of fun.  Lots of living in anticipation of the memories….of looking back on the pictures.  But this year was different.  My kids acted mostly put together, Hazel was big enough to be Peter’s little care taker, Charlie and Em ran free without needing me.  I felt freer than I have in a long time.  And I felt the present glory of the moment.  And that felt good.  Finally. IMG_7521 I’ve gone for years with a smattering of these kids and these moms ^^^.   My running friends.  Oh, I’ve ran through a lot with these girls: babies, pregnancies, crises, joys, troubles, challenges.  I love them.  And I loved being there with them today, watching all these little lives run through the orchards.  It made me realize how much we really have run through. IMG_7514IMG_7531  IMG_7614 For the past few years I’ve tried to bring books into the orchard.  A favorite book of the year.  I started here.  Check out Charlie’s hair!  Wow.  That was really long.  I wanted to somehow mark the new school year and books and apples seem to commemorate what’s happening in September pretty well.  I love remembering what they were into year to year.  IMG_7629 IMG_7636 IMG_7638 IMG_7645 IMG_7647 IMG_7698Charlie forgot his book in his backpack in the car… he just has this adorable bookless portrait.  IMG_7534 And of course, I couldn’t help myself but capture some of these golden faces.  Apples are just so picturesque!IMG_7546 I love these two girls who were thrilled to be together all day long today (they’re in the same kindergarten class).IMG_7558 IMG_7568 And these two friends?  Whenever I get a camera out to capture them they say “mug shot” and proceed to pose in these four poses….naturally, without any instruction.  Love these boys. IMG_7570 IMG_7571 IMG_7572 IMG_7573 IMG_7565 Charlie says they have a “bromance”.  IMG_7575And this is also a traditional shot ^^^ I’ve taken this same shot of these same boys every year at different places.  Same order, same pose.  I love it when boys get excited about pictures!  IMG_7660 



Life is good.  It’s not always pretty.  But it was today.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

on switching things up

It’s started again, that crazy ticking that rules our lives from September to June.  This year I’m actually ready for it.  Summer was so packed with fun and freedom that it’s given us all a taste for structure again. 

I have four kids in three school this year.  It’s going to be a different kind of year and I’m counting on taking most of September to reinvent ourselves, to make us fit more smoothly into this new routine.

We’re doing something super different this year with Hazel….ready for it?  Home based, online school through K12 and the Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield.  Yep, that’s right, I’m kind-of-sort-of a half-way-home-schooler and I’m pretty excited about it.  IMG_3251

Hazel on her first day of {virtual} school

All year last year I was worried that Hazel wasn’t in the right place.  She was stressed and a little insecure and just not herself for a lot of the year.  I kept feeling nudged to change something up for her, but I didn’t know what it should be.  She was in a great accelerated program in the public school system here, but the pace wasn’t right for her, the social dynamic in her class wasn’t great (same kids in the same class every year) and she spent a lot of her energy worrying about kids following rules (how did I produce such a rule follower?).  And on top of that, she often described her life as “too packed.”  It took me a while to figure that one out, she really wasn’t over scheduled and her homework load wasn’t that bad.  But then I realized that her brain is just always bursting with ideas, with a desire to know and explore and create, and between homework, practicing and family dinner there just wasn’t time for her to live out all that was inside of her. 

So, we started exploring options. I’ve been wanting to try homeschooling ever since I became a mom.  There’s something so appealing to me about being my children’s educator, about watching them first hand as they grasp new things, meet new ideas, form new connections.  I loved what we did during our six month stint in England, we all felt alive as we learned together.  But Jeff was a little worried about me being structured enough to really get home school right (what? me? not structured and organized? ha ha). I agreed that he had a pretty strong point :).  Schooling your children is a scary thing to take on, I so admire all those amazing moms out there who do it, and I do know there’s are so many great homeschooling resources out there that could help me pull it all together.  But in weighing our options we decided to try this k12 thing.  My brother and sister-in-law do it for their oldest and they’ve loved it.  It seemed like a good fit for us because it’s still very structured and school driven, there’s still a teacher, a daily schedule, some virtual live classes, but it takes just a few hours a day and would give Hazel a LOT of ownership, let her go at her own pace, leave her time to pursue all of those creative ideas bursting out of who she is. 

So after deciding if this was a real option for her we decided to hand her the reigns, let her decide.  She was the one who would have to live with the consequences of this, she’s the one who would have to drive it, push herself, work hard at doing something different and we realized that the only way she would be happy with either school option was if she chose for herself.  So, Jeff and I took her on a little walk and explained that we’d found another option for her for school.   We described what it was, helped her think through some of the pros and cons and then told her that we trusted her to make this decision.  She spent a few weeks thinking about it and talking to people and researching and praying.  She really weighed both sides and thought through all it would mean the best she could.  She took that decision seriously! 

When she finally decided that she wanted to go for it with K12 I was as nervous as could be, but she was certain and unshakable.  She knew it was the right thing.  I worried to myself about how this would affect our relationship, if she would be missing out on important social learning, if she’d learn enough, if she’d push herself, how we’d fill in her extra time.  And then, my dear sister-in-law advised me to calm down, to back off, to let this be Hazel’s year.  To really give her the reigns.  To let her own this.

And, even though I’ve had to make myself back off lots of times since this all started, I think I’ve done a pretty good job at letting her really drive this thing.  And the change that has come over her has been astounding.  My kind, happy, creative, soul searching Hazel is back.  That angry, stressed out, sullen third grader went away and has emerged as a hard working, driven, easy going, thankful 4th grader.  She is psyched every morning to log on to see what she has to do for the day.  We work together on some of the stuff, but she does a lot of it on her own and she whizzes through most of it, giving her time to explore the long list of things she’s interested in.

Sure, we’re still kind of in the honey-moon phase….I’m sure we have hard hills ahead in this new path we’ve chosen.  And we’ll certainly have to tweak things around as we go.  But we feel like we’re on the right path again.  We’re going in the right direction. 

Sometimes it just feels so good to switch things up.  To take the reigns and choose to do something a little different.  It reminds me that life doesn’t always have to be lived the way everyone else is living it.  It’s important to stop and evaluate and then work to find the changes that will make a difference to us and to our children.  It has taken some guts to make this big change, but it feels right and oh so alive to do something that takes guts! 

Because a big part of life is about owning our experiences.  We are the ones writing on these pages.   And sometimes when things get messy we’ve got to turn to a blank page and write something totally new.




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