Doing as Mom asked. And putting bunny to bed.

4. In this session at the Tidal Basin years ago, Lucy stood alone for her photo. Although her mom was five feet away, she was as exposed as we all can feel, when we remember being that small. When we are aware that we may still feel that way, but have learned how to compartmentalize it. She was shy and she was so, so strong. But she had a tell.

00170104The next year, she put her bunnies down for a nap in the sunshine. She thought I might need to document that. She was right.

Lucy is seven now. She’s bright, lively, an artist, a creator, an actor. She’s as compassionate and patient as a big sister should be. She’s independent, and by all outward appearances, she doesn’t get as nervous anymore.

Too Soon, and Right on Time

3. This is an image of my nephew, Simon. One of so many that I love, because I love him so much that it’s sort of impossible to pick just one expression, just one moment. Simon was born on November 23rd, 2013. He was due to be born on February 6th of the next year. 0008

On the very day that Simon came into the world so unexpectedly, my husband of 12 years moved out of our home. The world collapsed all at once. My brother, my best friend, called from GW Hospital, and asked me with panic in his voice to go to their house to gather some essentials, and take their dog until they were back home again. Which wouldn’t be as a family of three for a long, long time. I hadn’t yet told him what was going on in my life, and wouldn’t until January, when I thought he was stable enough to take that on, too. In retrospect, he’s stronger than anyone I know (with the exception, possibly, of his wife) and had I told him, we could have just shared in the sadness and fear of the weight of the unknown together. And found strength in knowing that the sliver of light that leaks into the darkness just grows with time, opening the world up in beautiful ways that you never could have imagined.

 

 

Heels

2. I have photographed Kaarin since the early days of this business, when I was her yoga instructor and she was my student. Among other amazing endeavors, she started the epic podcast Pop Fashion with Lisa, and I was asked to create their images for social media and branding. They’re awesome, hilarious, and true to themselves.

This day, I made the ill-advised decision to wear boots with HEELS while working. Cause PBS was there, filming B-roll of our shoot for a possible show on these magnificent ladies. And my ego got in the way of my smarts because see: I’m short. And heels lengthen. And are globally known as uncomfortable enough that the PBS lady asked me at the end of three hours: “Do you always shoot in heels? Cause I’ve never seen that before in my life.” Headslap. Lesson learned.

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The beginning

When I started out, I was terrified. Of missing a moment, of not knowing enough technically. But I’ve always felt at home with people. With emotion. To this day I walk into a shoot and watch people. Sometimes to the detriment of conversation, I watch the light, the way the client nuzzles their child, the way their fingers hang together as the partner parts to get a pair of shoes, to put the dog out back. My images are a reflection of these insights, these glimpses. These images are a creation of their story, and mine. Here are a few of our moments as I remember them.

1. Pamela is at the park, with her visiting parents, her husband and her daughter. It’s early morning, and it’s a 20 minute mini session. She’s jet-lagged and emotionally wrecked. She has returned from Paris in the wake of the 2015 bombings and needs a minute, but can’t really take one. Her best friend, a client of mine, has brain cancer. And it’s the worst devastation you can imagine. I ask her to squat near the picturesque lavender, and ask Lily, her daughter, to come over for a photo. Before I can direct further, she gives me this. She gives her mom this. This seven year old knows that Mom needs a minute. I love the way Pamela grips her wrist. I love the lens flare on the bottom of the frame. I love their profiles in tandem. This is love. This is family.

 

 

The Next Thing

 

I’ve been trying to write these retrospective blog posts – years gone by, 10 years of running this business, building this group of friends and clients. To honor my awesome clients and my growth. And I’ve been getting stopped. I’ve been blocked a lot because the beginning was 10 years ago – when technology was different and storage too. My files from the early years are spread through 10 terabytes, which years ago seemed like storing the entire world’s files. Four terabytes of storage just 6 years ago was $2,500. I know. I paid for it. I still move it from home to home like a baby in a bassinet. Accessing those files is possible, but a tremendous undertaking. So there is that.

But I really think that underlying reason that I’ve been getting stopped is creativity. I’m in a new flux, a new flow, feeling the growth and outpouring – messy, mistaken, perfect and simple – of creativity. I’m feeling the next stage of my business, but not to say the end of this one. It’s like I’m trying on different clothes, feeling the skin on my skin – what does it feel to be this, or that?

I’m thinking of products. I’m thinking of studios. I’m thinking of corporate work for kids products. I’m thinking of moving entirely to Hawaii and retiring on our sailboat. Nope. That last thing is the only thing that has never crossed my mind. I’m thinking of growing and spreading my wings and planning and feeling powerful in these next steps. How can this life get even better? Dare I try?

 

Breathing in the light of it all

10 years ago today I hosted a party at Studio Serenity in Adams Morgan. The year prior had been a whirl of: building a website, a portfolio, a skill set; creating contracts, policies, pricing; sampling products, taking bookkeeping classes, taking out a small business loan, purchasing and learning software, SEO, advertising and marketing; cooking dinner, being a friend, a daughter and a wife; training to be a yoga teacher, and working full time.

10 years ago today if I had paid closer attention to the dozens of near strangers and the very close friends and family who helped me pull off that launch party, well then maybe I would have known that today was a likely outcome. But I didn’t. At that party I was just nervous, and excited, and exhausted. And I couldn’t see beyond the small goals set for a year out.

At the end of the night I sent everyone home, helpers and all, and desired more than anything to finish the work on my own. Before breaking down the rented high-top tables, folding the linens, removing the photos from the walls, I sat in the quiet of the yoga studio. I had spent the previous year training in that space to be a teacher, and in the process found my spirit, my grounding. With nothing but the sound of light rain on the windows, streaked with the lights of passing cars, I breathed in deeply, and a smile crossed my face.

This might be possible.

I might never have to commute to a job in an office again.

I might never update a resume, or wear a suit, or go to a staff meeting ever again.

I might, just might, be able to create every single day for the rest of my life.

So far, I was right, it has been possible. Countless times each year a smile crosses my face in ultimate gratitude for the clients, friends and strangers who support me every day to keep on doing this work. What I was not aware of when surrounded by those people all of those years ago, was that it’s the magic collaboration of many that can make something go.

Thanks to each of you for each and every bit of support, good thoughts and positive energy that you’ve sent my way. I’m forever changed by it.

-s

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Little ones at the Park

It was so great to work with Kathie and Matt again! It seems like just yesterday that I did Adeline’s newborn session, and now there are two! Congratulations you guys.