Last weekend I had the opportunity to photograph my eighty-seven year old mother-in-law Joan.
Joan has always been an out-going, life-of-the-party, kind of lady. And she still is. But she also has dementia, and some days are better than others.
The day of the shoot was not a great day for Joan. She was tired and really just wanted to sit on the couch under some blankets and relax. She wasn't over excited about being dragged up to the studio. But we decided to move forward anyway. We got her ready and sat her on a comfortable stool behind a desk (to give her something to lean on). I thought perhaps we'd get one or two frames and then let her go back to her comfortable spot on the couch in the lobby.
But as soon as we got her situated and in front of the camera, everything changed. She sat up straight, talked about her kids (all seven of them), sang songs.... she was herself in a way she hadn't been just minutes before. Something about the photos brought this out in her, and it was amazing to see and to capture.
Most of my time in the studio is spent photographing newborns and their families. I love those photos because they capture such a special moment in time. The newness of a relationship that is so unlike anything else. That sense of wonder and the indescribable love that we all feel for our children.
But what about the other side of that journey? When at some point the roles reverse and the child grows into becoming the care giver.
The love that is there on that end is a different kind of love. It's the love that has history. It has a lifetime of stories. And memories. And times together. It's about the love children feel for their parents as well as the love parents feel for their kids.
I think that that was what Joan was responding to the day of our shoot.
She was there with two of her kids. They got to sit, with their arms around each other, and talk and laugh and just be.
Moms and babies. That is what I photograph. And as any mother will tell you, your baby is always your baby, no matter how old they are. And your mom is always your mom. She's always that person who loved and cared for you, even before she knew who you were. That relationship is unlike any other we will ever have. And I'm so honored to be able to capture it at every stage.