Now that I’m grown, I look back on things you made “normal” in our home when Natalie and I were young. The “craft cupboard:” an entire section of kitchen cabinets that was devoted to coloring utensils, paper, pipe cleaners, glitter, and kinds of creative wares that poured out like a waterfall when the doors were opened. The “piano room:” the front room by the entrance of our house with the tall windows, hardwood floors, and the fancy couches we only sat on during recitals and special conversations. The “costume closet:” the vacant space under the stairs in our magically unfinished basement which was home to your old fur coats and bridesmaid dresses – clothing that morphed us into princesses and villains and talk show hosts. The “stage:” the main area of the basement that you transformed one Christmas Eve using curtains and two by fours and a row of angled white lights, which became a runway and a clubhouse and a place where we felt famous, but safe.
You made creativity normal. You questioned “normal” and you made it better. Why fill another kitchen cabinet with dishes when it can hold every imaginable art supply? Why devote an entire room to a second table and chairs that you only use at Christmas when that same room can be used to fill the house with music each day? And why hoard away your most beautiful old clothing when you can let your daughters feel transformed and inspired by it? And why finish a basement when its rooms and hallways can become endless movie sets, shops, forts, and theatres?
I doubt you asked yourself those exact questions, mom. This is just how your brain works. You live in and among creativity at all times. (That goes for you too, Dad.)
Thank you for watching our plays, our movies, and our shows. Thank you for letting our friends stay for days so we could finish our creative endeavors. Thank you for telling us to dream big and develop our talents.
When I gifted you a Luxe Portrait session this Christmas, I knew you’d be hesitant, but I knew you’d accept it happily. It was such a sincere honor to photograph you, mom. To direct the woman I admire most on the other end of the camera, and to craft portraits using skills I’ve worked years to master. I think every daughter wishes her mom could see herself through her eyes – eyes that have seen her mom look disapprovingly at her own thighs in the mirror, eyes that have watched her time and time again talk about the beauty of her daughters (but never her own), eyes that have looked at her mom as the pinnacle of inner and outer beauty since she understood what beauty was.
I knew you’d go along with the process, let me help you choose outfits, follow my posing direction, and enjoy the photoshoot. I knew you’d feel a little hesitant when you saw thirty finished portraits of yourself, and say something like, “Well this is just lovely but who needs this many portraits? I mean, is this vain?” (half joking, but also sincere), but what I didn’t know is how much you’d love them.
I didn’t know it would take several hours for the weight of it all to sink in. And I didn’t know that when I told you to look around the piano room and its dozen or so portraits on the walls and tell me why everyone in the family but you was in them, that you’d point at the one blank wall space and say, “That would be the perfect spot for one of my Luxe portraits!” I knew then that you got it. You understood why you needed to be photographed, and that your family (and you yourself) wanted to see a beautiful portrait of you on the wall of your favorite room. And when you gathered up the little easels from around the house and started to display your favorite images in the dining room, I knew you were proud. You realized that being photographed isn’t vain, unnecessary, or something to put off. You saw for a moment what the rest of us see when we think of you. I also didn’t know this experience would give you such a boost of confidence before your four month adventure teaching English in Africa… that is, I didn’t know until you sent me this the day before you left:
“Your portraiture of me is still sinking in and I want you to know that as I finished packing yesterday – seeing my great photos everywhere – made me so happy and FULL OF CONFIDENCE FOR THIS VENTURE AHEAD! No nerves, no doubts, seeing a strong, attractive, confident woman WHO CAN DO THIS! Thank you so very much darling for the boost – and above all using your giftedness to bless and uplift me and others!! WITH admiration, respect, and adoration, your very fortunate mama.”
Thank you for showing me that what’s important should be normal – not the other way around. Thank you for believing in me and being my biggest fan. Thank you for allowing me to create portraits of you that I will cherish all my life and that I will show my own children. And thank you for letting me show you how loved and lovely you are.
With admiration, respect, and adoration,
your immeasurably blessed daughter.
Do you exist in photographs? Request our Luxe Portrait Guide here.