Something I’ve been working on for months now is my vision…my vision for the work that I do when I’m behind the camera, when I’m planning the photos in my head and trying to make it work with the focus and the shutter button. My vision is the promise I make to myself about my work, and it’s the promise I make to you that is fulfilled (hopefully) in my photography. You can’t really have a goal or a purpose until you have a vision, so I’ve been asking myself what it is that I’m meant to accomplish, what I alone can accomplish in my truly unique, signature way.
And I suddenly realized it’s all about seeing things differently.
What do I love more than anything in the world? Family. I feel like since the day I was born, I was meant to love, nurture, protect and take care of my family, which has grown over the years to include more than just relatives, but friends too, and now my husband’s family. It’s what’s more important to me than anything, and family is the thing I most love to capture in my pictures.
The photos I love the most are the ones that reveal a sort of “aha moment,” as Oprah would say. The ones that cause you to notice a look in your child’s eye that you’ve never noticed before. The ones that make you sit a little bit taller and say, “I never looked at myself that way before.” The ones that finally convince you that you really do have your mother’s smile, just like everyone has always told you. It’s all about seeing the subject in a new way.
One of my favorite examples is a simple black-and-white photo I took while I was still in high school, at my aunt’s wedding. She had just finished putting on her dress and fixing her makeup, and she’s looking right at the camera and laughing. My Gran, her mother, is standing right beside her and smiling at her with a glimmer of pure love and admiration in her eyes that you can’t possibly miss. There were no fancy special effects, no Photoshop editing…in fact, my grandmother didn’t care for it because it showed the sun spots on her face and the wrinkles around her eyes. She said she looked old. I think it’s one of the most beautiful photos I’ve ever seen of her. It’s just her, natural and full of the love and wisdom that only comes from a mother. Every time I look at that picture I realize how much my Gran loves her children, and all of her family. I’ve seen that look on her face before, looking at me, and it’s priceless. That I was able to capture that moment (accidentally, I’m sure) for my aunt is so important to me. If none of the other pictures I took that day turned out, I would still feel like my work was done.
So there it is, my vision, my promise to myself about what I’m doing and my promise to you, about what I want photography to do for you. I want it to change the way you see your family, your pets, your hometown. Your life.
So here’s to a new year, 2011, and a new vision. For all of us.