The Way We Were
Photography by Rose Kaz of Rose Photo
I've been sitting here staring at my blinking cursor for an extended period of time because I'm at a loss for words. Or rather, the right words. The perfect sentence. The exact way I want to start talking about this experience.
Because these photos move me to tears. I love them more than words can possibly express.
If parenthood had a tag line, it would be "it goes by fast." Cliché? Sure. True? Absolutely. My daughter has opinions now, thoughts and feelings she voices on a growing basis these days. I remember looking at all eight pounds of her a little over a year ago and struggling to wrap my mind around this cooing, gurgling angel with the stub of her umbilical cord still attached to her belly button ever actually uttering a word. Or taking a step. Or using silverware.
And now...now I have her artwork hanging on the fridge. Now she counts with me as we walk down flights of stairs together. Now she climbs up in the big rocking chair in her room and "reads" her books to herself. I can see the "baby" in her fading and I find myself celebrating the amazing child she is while also grieving over the tiny-ness, the quiet feedings, the pool of milk drool on my shoulder that will never return.
When I go back to look at photos of her, of us, I don't pull up the ones of everybody dressed up for Easter. Or the cute seasonal snaps from the local pumpkin patch. I seek out the pictures of us doing everything and nothing at all. Of us living our lives as were in that moment...perfect in their imperfection...totally oblivious to whether that day was good, bad, warm, windy, full of sun, or full of tears. It doesn't matter. All I'm looking for is a window through which to crawl back in time and remember us.
The way we were.
When Rose came to our house for our photo shoot, yes, I cleaned and straightened up. But not too much, not in a way that would make these photos feel inauthentic. I found myself looking at Harlow's bookshelf and wondering "should I rearrange her knickknacks and collectibles to make them more...I don't know...shelf stylish?" And I said 'no, that wouldn't be right.'
I want to look back on these photos one day and wrap myself not just in our happy smiles but the small, supporting details. I want to remember what Harlow's room looked like in the fall of 2017 when we lived in this house. I want to jog a memory of her books, which stuffed animals she had, which decorations were hanging on her wall.
I want to remember how much she loved sitting with me in my bathroom as I got ready. How she loved to brush blush across her cheek. How she wanted me to blast her with a warm burst of air from my hair dryer when I was drying my hair. How I had to fuss at her every afternoon when she hoisted herself up on my bed to wildly jump around and both make me laugh and scare me senseless.
Right now these simple delights are what happens on a normal basis. One day...gradually...so slowly I won't even notice at first...they'll fade into new things we share, new things to make mommy laugh and frighten her to death. Despite how hard I try, I can't retain all the beautiful memories I wish that I could. Sometimes I even concentrate really hard, and blink my eyes slowly, to try and commit a precious, tender moment to my hard drive so I'll never, ever forget it. But that's no guarantee. So I rely on photos to take me back to times gone by.
These photos are us. They're how we love each other. We play with makeup. We read books. We swing together at the playground after we feed the ducks.
Photographing how we "are" so one day we can appreciate how we "were." I can't think of a greater gift a photographer could give a family.
I implore you, dear friend, to find the time to do a "Day in the Life" photo shoot with your family. Husbands, wives, children, parents, grandparents, friends...whoever family is to you.
I'll never be able to thank Rose enough for both her revelatory photo shoot concept and her stunning talent. The day she came to photograph us, it was just like a friend had come over and we all just hung out, relaxed, and enjoyed each other's company. Take it from someone who works in front of the camera a lot -- a relaxed environment (especially when kids are involved) will ALWAYS yield the best photos. No pressure to get every set of eyes looking at the same time. No worries over tiny bodies sitting still, much less smiling.
Just everybody being themselves. The way they are.
Because one day, you'll need to remember the way you were.