Today's topic I'm super excited about, family photography. As most of you know, I do a lot of babies and newborns, but families, you kinda just grow into families, as you do more babies and newborns, 'cause your clients grow up, right? And the parents want you to be there, and continue to photograph their kids as they get older. So the transition into families was a pretty natural one for me. And I'm actually finding myself loving families more and more and more, especially since my own son is now at that elementary school age. This is him on the cover here. He looks bored out of his mind doesn't he? He was, he was, photographer syndrome. You know, photographer's kid syndrome, isn't that what they call it? But anyways, so again, welcome. A lot of you have come in from long ways away, and I appreciate you being here, so thank you so much. I don't normally do this, but I'm gonna start off on a little bit of a sad note, with a story. But I think it's a really important one, and one that h...
as a lot of very recent and deep meaning for me as a photographer. About 49 days ago, my mother passed away. And it was very strange. It's kind of a surreal thing to have your mom leave the earth. And as many of you know, I had a very strained relationship with my mother. And these are some of the few images that we found. In the days following her death, literally, my sister and I cleaned out her entire house. And that, let me tell you, is probably the hardest part of a parent dying, is having to go through everything. And she was a very disorganized person, she had a lot of mental illness, she had a lot of physical illness, it was ultimately Parkinson's induced pneumonia that got her. So she wasn't organized, and things were flipping everywhere. I mean, we were finding gems of images stuffed in between papers like legal documents, and papers, or just between newspaper clippings and receipts. We had to go through every single piece of paper in order to find these gems. On the left, that's her in Riverside, pregnant with me, on the way to the hospital for her C-section. And on the right, that's me in her arms, with my older sister Jenny, right when she came home from the hospital. My mom had Type 1 Diabetes, so the doctors basically told her she could never have children, and she wound up with my sister and I. Which is an interesting thing in it's own. She wasn't the greatest mother. She was actually pretty terrible. (laughs) But she was still my mother... This is us dishing out ice cream, me and my little stuffed panda there on the lower left, and my sister sitting on the counter. And then this is, I actually took iPhone pictures, you can see the granite in the background, that's my sister's dresser countertop. And I literally just took iPhone pictures of the pictures themselves. So you can see the sun damage on the side of the image there, and that's me and my dad and my mom, gosh, I must've been, that was right before we moved to Europe, so I was probably my son's age in that picture. I was probably about six or seven years old. And when you deal with the death of of a parent, especially one that you didn't really get along with, grief is a funny thing. I heard a wonderful story today. You know how when you wake up early, you go through your Facebook feed 'cause you're bored, and you don't wanna get out of bed yet? That's exactly what I did this morning, and I came across this video. And you know how you never turn up the video, you just read the subtitles? 'Cause you know the person's talking, so you just read the thing. You know what I'm talking about. And so I read the story of this woman who... Was like a pastor, or she was a warden, so she helped people through grief and death. And she was telling the story of this little girl, Nina, who's cousin had died in a very tragic accident. And she was five years old, and her cousin was four, Andy. He had been rolled over on top of, by and all-terrain vehicle, and had died pretty quickly, instantly. But Nina wanted to go see Andy after death. Five years old, 'kay? She was determined to do this. Her parents let her do it, and the story was about what happened during that process. And how she made sure he was all there, she tucked him, and she put her head on his chest and sang to him, and truly loved this little boy. And I'm sitting there, this morning at 5:45, (bawling) you know, the tears coming down. But what was so powerful for me was the phrase inside the lesson. Let's see if I can remember it correctly, it said... "Grief is simply love, battling it's oldest archrival." "Grief is simply love, battling it's oldest archrival." So grief is love, battling it's enemy. And I went, "Wow. "Can, I remember having that kind of love as a child. "When you're just like, 'Mom and dad you're the best.'" Remember that? My son has it now. But over the years, that badly eroded with my mother. And the grief is really hard to come by, I'm not grief stricken about this. Hence I can talk about it without crying. But what that took me back to was that childhood feeling of love, and that's when my grief took hold for my mother. That's the woman, that's the love that I missed. And those photographs take me back to that. And when we enter this earth, we come into, I truly believe we pick our parents. And we are born, and we go through this process of living, no matter the mistakes we make, whatever. And then we die. And we don't get to take really anything with us, other than our memories, and the love and relationships we had with other people. That's really all we get. So what are these things called pictures for then? What are they for? "Memory." Cheesy cliche. No, it's more than that. The images are for the living, those people left behind. To take them back to an emotion. To take them back to their love. Do you see what I'm saying? So they really are, the images that we take as photographers, are truly our gift to those left behind, right? They mean nothing to the person who's gone. You don't get to take that with you. But for me, those images of my mother, as torn up, and shredded, and yellow as they are, they take me back to a time when I wholeheartedly loved my mother. And the grief, love just battling it's greatest archrival... I can truly grieve and feel for what I didn't have growing up, with a mother who just really wasn't a great mother. So, the images are what will move those still living.