UPDATE: This post was made as Shinn Shots Photography and does not represent the style or goals of Blue Space Photography. Because I believe in knowing where you’ve come from, I’ve left this here as a reminder of the journey that led me to where I am today. I now only shoot storytelling sessions, so be sure to check out my current work in more recent posts! – Lauren
I’ve been trying to figure out what to say in this blog post for weeks. It’s not because I can’t think of anything…
it’s because I think of too much.
How do you start a blog post about your friend who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer?
What do you say when you’re thankful that the cancer was caught early, but are heartbroken that your friend must walk this path?
How do you explain the depth of the sorrow…the worry…the prayer?
… I don’t know.
For all of you who know Emily, you know just how remarkable she is. She has a way of making everyone feel welcome. Her heart always seems to have room for one more friend, never growing weary of loving on those around her. She takes the good with the bad (though she’s always looking for the good), and she accepts you just as you are. Always.
…and then there’s cancer.
Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s better to take action…any action…to help those close to us when they are suffering. It fills the void of feeling helpless on the sidelines. So when Emily posted her diagnosis, I wrote her a letter offering to take family pictures. I sent the offer via snail mail because I didn’t want her to feel obligated to respond. I feared that the thought of adding one more thing to her to-do list before surgery would be too much. I was so thankful when she emailed saying that she’d love to have a photo session. It meant that I could do something tangible to help Emily and her family.
The last thing I wanted was for the session to be stressful, so I shifted gears to a more experience-based approach, providing discussion questions and activities for the G family to do together. Knowing the difficult journey they were about to go through together, I wanted to give them some much needed family time to ‘just be.’ They spent an hour together, talking and laughing…and the session went beautifully. Even Landon had a great time, despite being super worried at the beginning about having to give me a picture smile (which, I reassured him, he’d never have to do).
At the very end of our session, I was taking a few pictures of just Emily…until Landon and Leah came back to join us. Bless them. It was hot and they were done. (Though Landon still wanted to take pictures!) I watched as Emily navigated the struggles that so often come with having a child on the spectrum, or frankly, just having children in general. In that moment, I was reminded about the direction my business will be heading in the near future. I’ll be changing the focus from general portraiture to encouraging moms through photography. And in that same moment, I knew exactly what I needed to say to Emily:
When I look at you in these moments, this is what I see:
I see such a sweet tenderness between a mom and her kids.
I see Landon’s tear stained face, still red from crying, working to smile for the camera and to find the peace you keep reassuring him is there. The tears are gone because you, his Mama, have gently wiped them away. The words you use to encourage him…the calm you give to him with the sound of your voice…the way you love him…no one else on earth can be exactly that for him. And no one else loves that sweet face just as you do, picture smile and all.
I see Leah giving you a bear hug from behind because you have poured into her so much that she overflows with love for you. I see you, relishing in her hug…your whole body relaxing into hers. The connection between the two of you is warm and peaceful, full of mutual respect and adoration.
I see you…a mom who, with all she has going on, still takes the time to get family pictures made to preserve the memory…just in case. You do this because you know that your kids don’t see your shape or size…they just see you – their mom.
You love them so fiercely, they will never doubt how much you care for them.
I know the road ahead is going to be a tough one. I also know that you will navigate it with grace and prayer. I’m sure the journey for your kids will be difficult, but they are entering it with hearts full of love and a deep sense of God’s overwhelming faithfulness.
You carry such a presence with you, Emily…it’s almost indescribable. You have a beautiful way of loving on people and meeting them exactly where they are. Your kids experience the absolute best of that, and I can see the same presence shining through them too.