Growing up, I swore to myself that I wouldn't become my mother. This statement itself didn't even make sense because my mother is the kindest woman I've ever known, and I will thank my lucky stars if I eventually become half as wonderful of a mother as she is to me. But nevertheless, as a child I didn't see it this way. I saw my mom as a former teacher who loved to craft (knit, needlepoint, quilt, etc.). As a teenager, I tried so hard not to become who she was because that's just what I thought daughters did. But now here I am, a former teacher who loves to craft (photography, knitting, etc.). It's funny how life has a way of saying, "Nice try, but I knew what was best for you."
It's crazy to think about what life was like just one year ago for me. My husband and I had only lived in California for six months, I was still debating whether or not I should go back to teaching high school English, Chicago still felt like our only home, and I had just signed up to take some photography courses at my local community college to see how I could potentially pursue this passion of mine. Man oh man, was I in for one crazy year!
Now don't get me wrong. I know that just like any art or craft, photography takes a long time to finesse. And even when it does become easier, it's still something that needs to be worked on and developed throughout one's life. That's what happens with teaching, too. (I spent two years trying to figure out the best way to teach high schoolers how to write without using fragments, text lingo, and abbreviations.) The beginning stages of learning my way around my camera were exhilarating, but also extremely frustrating. Even though I knew that I would get better at using my camera to express myself, I really didn't realize just how much my photographs and confidence would change. It took one special little girl to do that for me.
These two photos were taken approximately one year apart. My friend, Kristin, and her husband had their beautiful daughter, Emma, last February. As a
baby lover budding photographer two weeks into photo classes, I asked if I could come over and take some newborn pictures of her. Kristin and Ryan kindly obliged, bless them. After setting up my little makeshift newborn studio in their living room, I started shooting. I'm one of those people who tends to worry in these new situations, so there were a lot of thoughts running through my head. Kristin and I had only been friends for a few months. Sure, we shared a perfectly healthy obsession for all things Disney and Christmas, but what if I took bad pictures? This was her NEWBORN. Her first child! And she was three days old! I didn't want to mess it up, and I surely didn't want to lose a friend. I thankfully ended up with a few shots that I liked and edited them to the best of my ability.
I'm happy to say that Kristin and Ryan didn't de-friend me (in real life or on Facebook) after they saw their photos; in fact, they seemed happy. Happy clients, happy photographer. It was a win-win. Phew! Looking back, I am still proud of what I was able to accomplish at that moment in time, but I'm amazed at how far I've come.
Fast forward 12 months. In that time, I've become a part-time nanny for Emma in between classes and work. As a baby that I see on a very regular basis, it's safe to say that she holds a special place in my heart. Most of the photos I end up taking of her are on my phone, but every once in a while I'll take my camera over and use her as my free model. How can anyone resist that smile?!
Now that Emma's 1st birthday is coming up (something I can't even begin to believe), Kristin asked me to take some photos to display at her birthday party. Right off the bat, this photo shoot was different. I was more comfortable and confident. And when I went through the photos with Kristin right after the shoot, she was already extremely happy with the way they had turned out.
To some, seeing the side-by-side shots of Emma from last February to today shows how much she's grown into a little lady. But to me, these photographs show me that I wasn't crazy when I came home and told my husband that I wanted to pursue photography as a career. They show me that I'm learning more and more about who I am as a photographer. They have made me so excited for this journey to continue! Yet I've also learned that I have totally become my mother, and I'm 100% ok with that.