On October 18th, my daughter was born and I became the mother of three children. Hundreds of miles away, on the same day, another baby girl was born and another woman added the third child to her family. We were complete strangers at that time, but our love of photography and family brought us together. We started to have a conversation about motherhood with images, because we tell stories with our cameras. Since some tales are so similar, and some are not, we decided to collaborate and share a photo a week from a normal day as a mother to three.
“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.” – Mary Jean Irion
today i asked if i could take your photograph with the flowers you gave me for mother’s day. i ask you now to take your photograph as a sign of my growing respect for your privacy. you said yes to my request but you did as you have always done over the past seven years. you looked away. even when you were a baby and i was just starting out in photography, you made me work to capture your gaze. and it was never in my direction. i would make funny sounds at first. later i began to tell you stories. and then i just surrendered to the fact that i needed to take photographs of you regardless of whether you were looking away. i began to take your pictures while you were unaware of me. today i asked you if you liked being photographed by me. you said, “yes” looking in my direction for what felt like a millisecond. not long enough for my shutter speed. i asked you if you ever felt like i took too many photos. you looked out the window as if searching outside for the answer. i know you didn’t want to hurt my feelings so you said, “maybe every once in a while.” i smiled and asked you if you ever wished that i didn’t take photos of you. and then your eyes shifted quickly in my direction searching to see my own eyes behind the camera. i pressed the shutter. with a sadness in your voice, you said, “but then how would i exist?” i told you that these photos i take of you will last for a very very long time. while they are proof of your existence, they are not what makes you exist. this wasn’t enough for you. i set my camera down and our eyes met. you asked me how i would remember that you existed if i never made photos of you. i told you that if i couldn’t capture you with my camera, i would learn to paint so i could paint you on a canvas, or i would learn to sculpt so i could sculpt a statue of you, or i would use my words to write stories about you. i would do whatever it took to make sure you would always be remembered. at this you looked away. and while i could no longer capture your gaze, i could see the smile that now rested on your lips. my hand instinctively reached out touching my camera beside me. then i stopped myself. now would not become a “maybe every once in while.” instead, i would paint this memory of you straight onto my heart.
photo by Heather Robinson blog | Facebook
Caught her in the light for one shot as she headed off to school this morning. She’s only just 10, but I can see the woman she’ll be in her poise and movements. This shot was simply needed to freeze her like this for me, for always.
photo by Olivia Gatti website | Facebook