Every year for the 18 or so years of my daughter’s lives I photographed them around this time of year for the annual Christmas card. It was a personal challenge to send out the best photograph I could of them to all of our family and friends.
In the beginning I owned a photography studio in Enfield and was photographing many, many children – most of them were under 10 years old. There was a decided difference in photographing my own and someone else’s. The easy part is that these girls were conditioned to be photographed. I knew the words and ways to make them smile a natural smile and I had nothing but time to spend doing it. The difficulty came in the fact that they knew what buttons to push.
I would meticulously plan the dresses and where the photograph would be taken. I would dress them and drag them to the desired location and wait for the light to be just so or set up the studio before they arrived. Each session over the years had its problems (as every session always does). It also brought me great memories of the “behind the scenes” kinds of things that went on. They would manipulate me and I would manipulate them as parents and children will always do.
What seemed to every recipient of the yearly photograph to be of well behaved, well dressed little girls really was the product of hours of coercion, bribery, threats. It was also, in the early years, the power of bathroom words. Telling them to say something that they knew was considered a bad word took their minds off of the fighting between the two of them.
It’s this time of year that I look back fondly on those sessions – some great, some not so much. They are the fabric of our collective past and what makes up a little part of who we are now and our relationship to each other. I’m sure their perspective is totally different – everyone’s truth and story is but we are all on the journey together.
As the holiday season is upon us take the time to look at the little things that make up your traditions. Take out those old dusty family photos (God knows mine are) and reminisce about what was important to you then with the loved ones you have now. It can give you a fresh perspective on the journey you’re taking and bring home it’s the little things that really make up who you are.