Warning: I’m kicking off 2016 with a sappy and reflective post.
Our holidays were, for the most part, wonderful. We spent time with our children, parents, siblings, in-laws, in-laws-to-be, niece and nephew, and extended family. We ate great food and drank outstanding wine. Santa was good to the kids, and our relatives so generous. We celebrated Christmas–that alone is joyful.
The obviously forthcoming “But”: We had an unexpected and devastating twist on Christmas Eve. Early that morning we got a call… one of Charlie’s college friends, a housemate his senior year and buddy who’d spent early post-grad years in DC with us, had suddenly passed away. An accident, late the night before. We were shocked, numb.
We’re just now getting back in the swing of things, after mourning the loss on our own and also with friends and his family up in NYC. We spent the final days of 2015 up there for the services, which seemed pretty surreal.
Not surprising, my head hasn’t been in the photography game. I hardly picked up the camera over Christmas; what few photos I took are just memory-triggering snapshots. But after reflecting on all of this for two weeks now, I can see how I’ve changed my behavior and intentions, and that’s what I want to share:
Be present, for those you’re with, and yourself. We all know it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, and time flies. Obviously there are major parenting challenges (ours now: parent deafness and the uncontrollable whinies), and sometimes you just want to forget the last hour of irrational negotiations. And I’ll capture the positive on camera more than the negative. But, I want to soak up (and when possible, capture) those everyday moments. Especially the good. They’re all fleeting.
Yesterday, I took Ellie to a bounce house, and instead of just watching, I crawled in and jumped with her. I was totally engaged with her, experiencing it with her. It certainly formed a stronger memory in my mind, and it makes me smile. So, less sidelines, more engaged. I did subject her to a selfie before we left:
Also, we all learned from our late friend to play more. Be carefree. I can’t do so to his extent (no one can), but I can chill out more and worry less about perceptions. Even if it’s just jumping on a moon bounce with three toddlers.
As the one usually behind the camera, I also want to be present in front of it: Get in some photos so you have memories of your presence and involvement. This might be handing the camera to someone else…
…or, putting the camera on a tripod and getting in on the action. I wanted to spend Christmas morning with my kids, not taking pictures of them. I set up the tripod, focused once on the general scene, and set the camera timer to take a picture every 30 seconds. The pictures aren’t magazine worthy, but they capture the morning. AND, I got to sit with the kids climbing in and out of my lap, unwrapping gifts with them, instead of worrying about photos. Again with the being present.
THAT is why I love taking photos so much for others.
Last: do what you love. This is obviously something we’ve thought about and acted on a lot in recent years, with us both changing our career paths dramatically. But I’m finally waking up to renewed desire to pick up the camera and photograph my own family and others’–I’m getting some sessions on the calendar, and I can’t wait for the learning and pictures to come.