every child is a new world, with a language and terrain and climate all his or her own. even when i can’t see the faces of mine, i can feel the space they inhabit. this feeling is what i need to remember. when i first got my camera, i thought there was a certain way we were supposed to take pictures. i read, i practiced, i tried for about a week to get my baby boy’s attention, his eyes on the lens, still and hopefully, smiling. immediately, i started feeling i was looking at someone else’s child. or at least some version of a picture that had already been taken thousands of times. this was not me, and this was surely not them.
words and pictures go together for me. sometimes i try to tell a story with images, but more often, i want to tell the story of a single image. the amazing thing about knowing and loving your subjects is that you get to decide where to put the parenthesis, in the moment, in the story, in the frame.
last night, my daughter and i stayed up too late, reading aloud one of my favorite childhood books. this is a story about the magic of science, the unknown, love, identity, and the boundaries of time. she loves it, she asks questions about matter and energy and life and death. i wanted to freeze that moment, the sweet spiral of thoughts and words and the magic of being eight. any image i would have taken could never have conveyed the beauty of the dreams and questions in her mind. but if i keep this night, and all of the many others like it in my own heart, and really pay attention to who she is, the way her spirit looks, i can remember how she felt to me. the mingling of love and art that photography provides in my life, is a gift that has opened my eyes to the world, and to myself. there is no need to be a copy of anyone else. we are all our own breed of magic. we are more often looking at life before us, than at the person taking the pictures.