Photographing our new "normal"
Until this weekend, I hadn’t picked up my camera in almost a month. That is unprecedented for me. I photograph everything, often to the complete annoyance of my entire family. But I just hadn’t been able to work up the motivation to capture what has been happening during this pandemic.
Right before all of this started, I was so excited to share what I had been working on and how it was going to strengthen my relationships with all of my clients. I couldn’t wait to tell you about the process I’ve implemented that would make your photography sessions even easier and more fun than before!
And then my husband got sick…not Covid-19 sick, thankfully, but sick enough that he was on bedrest for almost two weeks and then spent another five days in the hospital. And everything I was working on came to a screeching halt, while I juggled taking care of him as well as my girls and our home.
He was released from the hospital just days before my girls were out of school for Spring Break and that’s when everything in the world started to go south. Since then, like the rest of the country, we have been “sheltering-in-place” and like many of you, teaching our kids from home and trying not to lose our sanity and patience with these wonderful little people who are just as scared as we are and feel just as out-of-control.
If your house is anything like mine, having my kids home has been wonderful, but also challenging at times. I’ve loved spending time with them everyday but they aren’t themselves. They’re angry and scared and sad. They’ve lost what remained of their last year at a school where many of the staff and students feel like family. They’ve missed opportunities exclusive to the 5th graders that they’ve been looking forward to since they were tiny fish in the big pond. None of this is comparable, of course, to losing a loved one or missing a high school graduation or prom, but to them, it is their world and it has been turned upside down.
And I’ve been struggling, as I’m sure many of you have been. I’m sad for my girls. I’m sad for the planet. I’m scared for my friends and family, and for people I don’t even know that are watching their loved ones suffer. I’m lonely and miss my “old” life, full of friends and work I loved and volunteering at the school. I enjoy spending this time with my girls (when we aren’t arguing over how many of their Zoom meetings they have to attend) but I miss doing work that fulfilled me and made others happy.
And it got me thinking…
I realized that while I can’t photograph my clients right now, I can focus on documenting OUR lives as best I can. The Zoom meetings with teachers and classmates…the weekly design challenges from their science teacher that has them thinking outside the box, creating parachutes and bridges and ziplines…the Lego building extravaganza that has taken over my living room for the past two weeks as we work to rebuild collections that have been dismantled using any parts we can find.
In the beginning, I didn’t want to photograph any of it. I want this to be over as soon as possible and never have to think back on this time again, as the reminder of things we’ve lost and people the world is losing on a daily basis is just too painful.
But this is part of our family’s story. This is going to change us, and the people we are when it’s over will hopefully be kinder and more understanding and more patient and will recognize that we are all part of the big picture and working together toward a common goal helps everyone.
I want to be able to look back one day, maybe when it’s not so painful, to see how beautiful it was when the world stopped for just a little while so we could protect each other. And we could learn how to take better care of ourselves, our loved ones and our planet.
My heart goes out to those who are struggling in ways I can’t imagine and those who’ve lost a loved one to this terrible virus. I wish I could help you more. For now, for my sanity and to regain some sense of control over what feels like a very unstable world, I am going to work toward documenting my family’s story.
So, I encourage you, wherever you are in this situation, to capture parts of your family’s lives, when you can. There will be days when you just want to go back to bed and forget about everything. But there will also be days when you see your child master something they hadn’t before, that maybe they wouldn’t have without the extra time you now have to spend with them. Or you watch them work through a difficult experience with grace and patience, knowing how much easier it would be for them to scream and cry. Those are the days worth celebrating and photographing. On our end, it was that my redhead finally mastered roller skating, despite numerous attempts to teach her over the past two years. It was a celebratory moment, for sure. It came at the expense of watching her roller skate all over my house for an entire day, fearing for my cats with their long tails, but she mastered it and is so proud of finally getting it! The grace and patience are always a work in progress but we are all making great strides, myself included!
I am going to be checking in with you on Instagram and Facebook, asking for you to share your family’s story with me during this challenging time. I can’t wait to see you and your family…I miss you all so much and can’t wait to be back out there, telling your story!