“ten times a day, something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good, sweet, empathic ping and swell. this is the first, the wildest, and the wisest thing i know: that the soul exists and exists entirely of attentiveness.”
– mary oliver
i am drawn to portraits of them, more and more. even when i try to back up, to take in the world around them, i find myself inching closer, and looking for their eyes. because there is something about them finding mine that feels like my heart, outside my body, with them. because all the tiny shifts and lifts and brightness and wonder and hope that is there, is where i need to be right now too. the thing behind those eyes is who they are, who we all are. the whole world snaps pictures, every day, millions of times, and we smile and put our arms around each other and show how hard we are trying. there is something that gets to me about people just showing up, looking at the camera, making a record of themselves, as scared and imperfect and in love with the world as we are. we are all so fragile that it hurts to even think about it. the portraits that speak the loudest and truest are the ones that show that, and the strength that meets it. they are so much about being human, in all our softness and with all our fight.
it is something to know someone and see what makes them “them” in a picture. it is something magic to be able to see inside a stranger. i really wrestle with all of the sharing of our lives. but it feels like a giant ball that is rolling, picking up layers of the world as it goes, being who it is. and this feels like my love for my kids, unstoppable, swallowing anything in its path, full of truth and open like a window. when people tell me they feel as if they know them, or me, it touches me because i know they are probably right.
it is a hard thing for me to be in front of the camera, so i appreciate the raw feeling of being in front of mine. sometimes it feels as if there is only light between us. or nothing at all. it teaches me about who my children are, about who i am, who we are together. it makes me kinder, softer, more prone to laughter and feeling free with myself, and saying the things i am feeling the hardest. a portrait is an exercise in honesty and in love, in getting lost in the person in front of you, so that the veil between you falls. and then there is only who you are. i am trying to be braver, about baring my outside as much as my inside, but to see myself as the love reflected back in their eyes, is the best start to seeing who i am too.