For a few years after graduating, I worked in a portrait studio (one of those ten minute sittings, photo collage, six background options commercial chains).Â People came in, we pulled forward a matching backdrop, posed them the same as the last group, and sent them home with the coupon deal of the week. No need for names or stories. Working there helped me define what it was I wanted out of photography in a way I don’t think I would have otherwise been able to articulate.
I know how valuable images are. And I know how much more a photograph can mean if it captures who the person is, right then. ItÂ isn’t always a portrait, in fact I would argue thatÂ more often it’sÂ a snapshot: cousinsÂ climbing an old maple tree in the front yard, grandpaÂ in his teens laying in the grass strumming a guitar, mom on her second easter cheesing for the camera in their very first apartment. These are the photos that stick with us because they feel like the person we love.
This September my parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. Their story is a realÂ story of two friends building a home, raising a family, and overcoming struggles. A vinylÂ backdrop and studio lights couldn’t tell that story. My outdoorsy dad and adventurous momÂ needed to be photographedÂ in a place that characterized who they are and how they cherish one another.
More than anything the way they show their love it is through sharing their time and interests. The location we chose is not just a field filled with old buildings to make the world of Pinterest swoon; it is the place where together they hunt, and hike, and snowmobile once winter arrives. It is a physical place that symbolizesÂ their love. I know this, and they know this, which means when I look at these images I see mom and dad, jeanie and rick, two best friends who decided to get married, and did,Â 30 years ago.