Warning...lots of run on and rambling sentences ahead. That's just how this is gonna have to be.
I do photograph families. The catalyst that started my search for lenses to better photograph my own family (not the horse show lenses) also drove the beginning of photographing others' families. I want to have beautifully captured memories of my family. I want my friends to, too. And then I want their friends to, too... So I'm a little hypocritical when I say "go ahead and embrace the imperfections and get your family photos done now, before another year passes" and all that stuff. Put your money where your mouth is, Alex. You see, I've been meaning to get ONE good family photo when our cherry blossom trees are blooming ever since we moved into this house. And a week ago, that still hadn't been set up...but we're moving and there is SO MUCH ELSE TO DO. I know a lot of people can relate to this, there's just so much else to do and the exhaustion is real, especially when you're pregnant/dealing with newborn sleep/chasing toddlers/all of the above. So it gets put off to next year, or never.
The universe must have had a meeting and unanimously decided to do something about this situation for me. I DEFINITELY had zero part in planning this. She moves in mysterious ways.
There's a huge, worldwide group of photographers that I'm a part of. A very active, supportive, helpful community. I check in. Some random photographer from CA is heading to Atlanta and has left behind a piece of equipment that is such an asset to photographing that they call it the "moneymaker". Two cameras attach to it and can be safely dropped at your sides when not in use, and it takes the weight from off your neck and puts it over your shoulders comfortably. I've left it at home and shooting without it was AWFUL. So this photographer is coming in town, and is asking our worldwide group if there's anyone in ATL who'll lend/sell/rent him a moneymaker. I doubt for a minute that we'd be the same size. I also doubt for a minute that he'd even want to make the drive up from ATL to suburbia. I respond that I have one, and its not for sale but he can come borrow it. Flash forward to me handing a $250 piece of equipment to a complete stranger hoping that my faith in humanity will return it to me. He's offered to snap some photos of my family when he returns it. Again, I doubt for a minute that the timing is going to work out. How's a wedding photographer with a flight to catch, and ATL traffic to contend with going to have time to do all this at a moment when I have any children awake/not in school/actually clothed/not covered in food...? How am I going to convince myself to get out of my jammies and into something that fits my pregnant body? What do I even have to wear? Do I take my kid out of school for a few photos to happen? But whatever...I don't need it this week...he does...he can borrow it...I'd hope someone would do the same for me.
The night before...there's no way. I CAN'T DO THIS. My kids will be doing 3 different things and not in one place. I should just get myself a headshot and call it a day.
Day of. I think I can at least get one kid in a photo. I don't care what he's wearing. Something > nothing. Oh wow. He's so nice, and my 3 year old has made an instant friend of him. This is going great. We're just hanging out, no big deal, photos are just casually happening. Oh wow. He isn't in a rush to leave for the airport. Maybe there's a chance the other two kids will get in one photo. Let's play guitar for a minute. Photos of that! Cool!!! Hmm...I think its time to wake the baby up. Photos of a happy baby. This is awesome. OMG MY OLDEST IS GETTING OFF THE BUS IN 35 SECONDS AND NO ONE HAS SHOES ON HURRY RUN WE GOTTA GO TO THE BUS NOOWWWWWWWW (dramatic yelling mom voice). Oh wow. This is embarrassing. The photographer is chasing us down the street to the bus stop [BUT come to find out, this chaos is nothing for a dad of SIX kids...its all good]. Oh wow. We're getting the bus stop documented. And the walk home. And a forced, but real life, little group photo under my favorite cherry tree that's in magnificent bloom. So we say goodbye to our new friend.
So that's how, totally overwhelmed with life, and running on a 3-hour-per-night-sleep-average, I managed to have family photos done in the home we love and soon will leave, under my favorite tree right during the peak of blooming, with one of the kindest souls & most talented photographers that was seemingly hand picked from above as THE perfect photographer for the photos that the universe had planned for us. I am still pinching myself, not believing that this really happened. I couldn't possibly be so lucky, so blessed. I'll be honest, I have seen the tiniest bit of this guy's work in our photography community and its great, but I didn't realize til a hot minute ago just how great ALL his work is. He teaches workshops, y'all. One day I'll find myself in one.
What's the lesson in all this? I think there are a couple. 1) Be willing to do nice things for people, no strings attached. But be prepared to occasionally, graciously receive. The universe can be REALLY cool about returning that goodness ten-fold. Don't let the end of the paying-it-forward stop with you. 2) Family photos are more important to me than I realized. Sometimes you don't know how to miss what you don't have. The immense gratitude and relief I felt with each click of a professional's camera, now I understand just how much these photos mean to me. So go. Be good out there, and find some time to get yourself photographed even if it's not perfect.
Also, go see my new friend's work and maybe find a workshop or get him to spend the day photographing you. You'll love it. http://zalmyb.com
Here's what came off my camera from that totally miraculous happening.