1.6.15

NEW DOMAIN + NEW WEBSITE AND BLOG

"Today is your big moment. Moments, really. 
The life you've been waiting for is happening all around you. 
The scene unfolding right outside your window is worth more than the most beautiful painting, 
and the crackers and peanut butter that you're having for lunch on the coffee table are as profound, 
in their own way, as the Last Supper. 
This is it. This is life in all its glory, swirling and unfolding around us, 
disguised as pedantic, pedestrian non-events. But pull off the mask and you will find your life, waiting to be made, chosen, woven, crafted." 
Shauna Niequist
Hello! I'm Kristen Photography now runs over here -->
Follow along over there, but the archives will always be here!

5.1.15

Mama Bear's Memorial Slideshow

"she's somebody's hero."jamie o'neal

My mother died
in January 2014.  Arriving at January 2015 is strange.

An entire year without her.  Not a few weeks, or a summer.  One full calendar year.  A lot of life happens in twelve months.  As I've looked back, sat still and walked forward reflecting on her life and it's living impact on mine, one of the most important things I know today is that it matters.


What matters? It.  All of it.  Any of it. 

It matters.

The holiday traditions, the budget meal plans, the talks in the car while drinking milkshakes (okay, and french fries), the little notes and texts, the huge surprise parties, the late-nights, early-mornings, and all-days, the disagreeing and the understanding, the quiet things and the loud things, the soccer games, laundry loads, math help, electricity that turns on, the bedtime stories, the Disney-vacations that took two years and lots of eBay-ing to save up for, the potato chips and french onion dip, the tears during "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," the laughing to Seinfeld, the basketball games, the baseball games, the slumber games, the ABC-I-Spy-games in the car, the questions, the answers, the silence, the hugs, the sunshine, the rain, the mess, the order, the dirty barefeet and the brand-new 50% off shoes, the cheese in the pasta, the missing forks in the yard, the broken dishes, the softest kisses, the commitment to connection, the depression, the absolute honesty, the midnight home projects to catch a break, the stains in the carpet, the granola bar breakfasts and the bacon, eggs and french toast breakfasts, the minivan rides, the sideline, the bedroom, the toilets, the hospital floor, the birthdays and keep-them-alive-days, the moon, the pain, the crazy, the sane, the everything.  It all. 

She died on Wednesday and her memorial service was Saturday.  On Wednesday I didn't have a single picture scanned or sorted.  By Saturday there was a (woefully inadequate) 28-minute slideshow of her life.  Those three days were a blur of flipping through thousands of (our life) photographs, scanning them in, sorting them in folders, arranging them in a timeline, adding music, and trying to somehow give the dear folks sitting in the church an idea of all the "its." 

So many pictures and chunks of our life were missed.  And many of the images don't have her in them.  But it was so on purpose.  If she wasn't in the picture, she took the picture.  And it gives me her eyes.  Some little moment, on one day of her life -- maybe a lovely beach vacation day, or maybe regular living room day, meant enough to her to make the effort, to pull out the camera.  Maybe her quiet toddler boy was being especially chatty and he just looked too cute?  I don't know.  I know stories for many of the pictures, but not all of them.  And I'll never get the chance to ask (besides, she likely wouldn't have remembered all of them either), but I know it mattered.  I know it mattered enough to make sure film was in the slot, and batteries worked, and the camera was found and a picture was taken, developed, and picked up three days later.  It mattered enough. 

She told me that one of the best days of her life was my wedding.  "I just watched you all day.  You were so happy.  You didn't eat, even though you think you did.  You just smiled and talked and were... happy.  There isn't anything better to watch."  She let me be dumb and tell her about my wedding colors when I was in middle-school.  She would chime in about how she still loves the "Tahoe Blue" dresses her girls wore.  I don't know, she just didn't make me feel stupid.  My joy was hers, but it was never "about her."  She held me when I cried about the other boys, and this boy too at certain points, but let me go when it was his turn.  She taught us how to help our baby work through bad gas, and she gave him back to us to let us try.  The new boy and the wedding and the baby wouldn't have mattered very much if my favorite bedtime story, 42 questions about nothing, and "helpful" nights in the kitchen learning how to cook hadn't mattered as well. "How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time."  It all mattered to her, she noticed the itty bits, she as the definition of "present."

I wish I could have had more time, I wish I could have added more detail, shown more of the other kids, but this is my three-day-whole-hearted summary of the things, events and people my mom loved with her soul.  She would go back to any of these moments.  So we "go back" by remembering, by taking time to do it. (I'm not sure if it'd be boring to you.  It's everything to me.  And one of my favorite things to watch when I start to wonder "Am I making a difference? What's the point? Why am I here?")

31.12.14

Years In Review | I'm Kristen Photography 2014

“time was passing like a hand waving from a train i wanted to be on."
  jonathan safran foer
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In the way "When are you due!" is the question when you're pregnant, "Are you still doing photography!" is the question when, well, you disappear from the internet and stop posting any current photography. (Yes, I am still doing and have been doing photography. Just, differently.)

The last 18 months have, with no exaggeration, been the "most" times of my life.  It has been much -- from that day in June when our firstborn was delivered, to that day in January when my mom was delivered (from earth), to that day in April when blood on toilet paper met our second-born was no longer with us on earth, to all those days traveling (usually with at least one or two children) and living with other people constantly, to the long slow days spent in the heat and the ice building our home with our own two hands.

Despite what any marketing class or business principle might say, I've somehow shot dozens of weddings, and dozens of other sessions (and hosted a workshop!), while doing relatively no "promotional work."  Getting clients their images in a (mostly) timely manner is the most important, and after that, I simply haven't had more to give my business.  I blogged 27 times this year, and 28 times last year as opposed to 130 times in a year before.  My facebook page hasn't seen many more followers, my online hits have dropped (as is the case when sites are neglected), my e-mail isn't filled with inquiries, I have a blog but not a website.  Everything should be pointing to financial 'failure' and damaged business.

Yet, as always, things just kind of... fell into place. (Huge special thanks for the support and relationship with the folks at Strong Mansion.  More than half of the weddings were set there, with Twins + Violins playing music.  You'll recognize a certain set of steps very quickly ;) It's been great working together so often.) And such deeply beautiful clients have come my way, welcoming me into their holy days, and showing me the power of connection weekend after weekend.

Photographing a wedding has become a thing of healing for me.  Some days it was very, very hard to show up with my "game face" and be a sparkling professional woman.  Preparing my tools the night before, putting on make-up, doing my hair, sometimes pulling my bloody big-girl panties on (as I shot weddings one week after giving birth to Rowdy, and one week after miscarrying Ryan), sometimes crying or staring blankly in the car on my way too and from, sneaking off to empty my body of milk-filled pain, wearing a pretty outfit, feeling so strong and confident each time I finish, proud of my mind and body, grateful for my current ability and health, depositing checks in the bank and taking the money out to hang drywall or see the sea, letting myself get lost in the bliss of others, the weird and hard and thrilling work of creating, reviewing photographs, giving newlyweds the story of that day.  It is healing.  It is healing to be sensory -- to see, taste, touch, smell, hear -- when often I've had emptiness or "nothingness" this year.  It quickens me.  Being able to live, and move, and have my being, while working for, through and with God on these days of heaven-and-earth, keeps my eyes wide open when I can want to squish them shut.

I was often drawn to the middle-aged and turning-elderly women.  Sometimes it was the mother of the bride or groom, but other times it was just a group of guests or unruly aunts.  I watched them.  I watched them just be moms -- they worried, fussed, finagaled, cried, glowed, stared adoringly, got a little tipsy, kissed cheeks, choked on joy.  One dear mama carried down the aisle a photograph of she and her now-groom-then-toddler-son cut into a heart.  They fed me and, without a doubt, I would release that uncomfortable, nostalgic feeling with some tears.    One lovely friend told me my photographs were "a spiritual act."  Her sentiments blessed me.  Similar to the way that praying both honors God and brings me peace, photographing honors the stories of these people and brings me happy hope.

It is hard mental, emotional and physical work to be present and involved in the details.  I'm so honored that, again, someone, some people, trusted me to do that work.  And as all good hard work is, it is an actual joy to create for them.  Here is a (tough, tough, tough to narrow down) vault of the places I've been, flavors I've tasted, faces I've met, and souls I've linked hearts with this last year and a bit.  From Montreal to the eastern shore, from Texas to twenty-minutes down the road from home; the six-figure events and the four-figure events; the humid hot days and cold rainy days; the baby flower girls and the century-old grandparents; the mothers and the fathers; and everything in between.  Thank you, from the fragile places of this woman's heart.  The amount of intense (though sometimes teeny) human history I witnessed is nothing less than medicine.
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ps. Thank you to my second-shooters this year: the spunky Ellie Be, winsome Hannah Nicole, and baby-daddy Caleb.