my family is not perfect. transitions are not seamless, moods are not always sunny, rules are often broken, pants are optional. direction, for my kids, is hugely self-guided. they do not have plastic skin and eyes that shine like glass, their clothing is not always precious, new, or coordinated. i imagine most of us fall into this category. my kids do wear their feelings and souls on the outside. and i love this about them. i love that i see who they are, and that they know that it is beautiful. they know they do not have to adjust themselves, to put on any mask, to create a picture for me. their lives unfolding are the most full and gorgeous thing i could imagine.
i choose the edgy or chaotic moments as often as the glowing, quiet ones. i tell them that it is alright not to look at the camera, i ask permission, that smiles are not required. and i cannot tell you how glad i am that i will be able to see the real them, as they get older, as they pull away, and find their own separate roads to walk. i hope i will be able to go back to images like these, and see the dreaming, the becoming, in their eyes.
our kids are living in a world in which a small group of people seems to define what is beautiful. too many of our little girls, and boys, are listening to someone other than themselves, when it comes to what they should look like, who they should be, whether or not they are okay. too many parents, myself included, let those voices creep in to our own heads. i want my kids to feel it in their bones, that they are perfectly themselves. i tell them what i really do is try to photograph people’s insides. that is where the real beauty lives. pictures like these are who these two souls are. they are wild, messy, grumpy, in motion, full of wonder, and love, with ideas of their own. it is a huge gift to ourselves as parents, and to them, to try to see how beautiful real life is. it is an act of love to which i am fully committed.