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Entries in family (22)




Cousin Mayhem

There's a special kind of bond between cousins that can, apparently, only be expressed by playing iPad games side-by-side.

Or unleashing mayhem on your grandmother.



You came in on the wind. 

Crested the mountain ridge, danced over meadow grasses, and through the open door.

Kissed me on the nape of the neck and whispered, don't be afraid.

You have beautiful friends, already.  They are adorned with feathers and beads and scarves and love shines in their eyes.  I think you've been talking to them too.

You have a beautiful home, situated perfectly to watch the sun transit the sky from wherever you lay.  It's quiet up there and there's a long view and you can breathe.

Your parents glow like the blessed, and wait intently for you to show them the way.

Already you call us into deeper levels of connection and commitment, the warp and weft of tribe.  Already you are a weaver.

When you are ready, we are ready.

Safe passage, sweet girl.



In the end the whole visit came together so simply it was as if we all lived in the same neighborhood instead of three different states.  The seed of the plan hatched, innocently enough, over a bottle of bourbon during a hurricane in Brooklyn last fall and took root even after the hangover had passed and the planes started flying again.  The last piece fell into place when, somewhere in Memphis, the sensible realization arose that a weekend in the mountains with our small tribe would be far more entertaining than a high school reunion.  

The four of us hadn't all been together at once since Stacy's wedding nine years ago, but the easy familiarity of old friends fell over us and we wove back and forth between college memories and filling in the blanks of the intervening years.  Our spouses fit in like of course you two married, it just makes so much sense, and look at us all here making sense together.  If it weren't for the hordes of short people who insisted on calling us Mom and Dad all weekend I could have imagined that little had changed.

Of course, a lot changes in 20 years.  But not, thankfully, our affection for each other.  I admire the lives my friends have built, the beautiful families they are nurturing, and the fact that they still make me smile so much my cheeks hurt, and the discovery that we can all laugh together when our children get caught in a mountain rainstorm and end up looking like this: 

Stacy, Lee, Brent, Dara, Will and Sarah, you guys are sick. And I love you.



Kim and Dustin, creators of the incredible DENY Designs (full disclosure: they license some of my artwork there.  Go see it!  They make beautiful home accessories), needed some new individual and family photos their PR woman could use to pitch their story.  We set up a studio in their house and shot with them and their twin two-year-old boys.  The photo above is Liam, and it's the kind of picture that makes Kim swoon and affirms my commitment to learn more about the use of supplemental light.  (You'll be hearing more about this, I feel sure.)

We also went to a nearby park where we shot more in the mode I'm used to working in: verite, in the moment, see what we get.  The boys were a wee bit under the weather and, being two, not entirely cooperative with the program their parents and I had in mind.  As I went through the pictures yesterday, I was struck by how the outtakes are my favorite part of the set.

Even when they're grumpy.

Even when you can't see anyone's face.

Even when they're clingy.

Even when they're refusing to stay put where you want them.

None of these are the nice family picture that you'd probably frame and put on your mantle.  None of them would probably be the one Grandma would want. 

But they are real.

Maybe it's because I really learned to shoot kids by shooting my own kid, and because the photos that I loved the best of him are the ones that will one day trigger a memory of what he was really like: how little his feet were, how he would rub his eyes when he was tired, how he hid screwdrivers all over the house.

I know you have to have the money shot, where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling all at once.  But the outtakes are the ones that slay me, every single time.