Everyone depicted in this post is alive and well.

😂🤣😂 Heckova way to start but keep reading....

Kate sent me this. It resonated with her and she knew it would resonate with me too. I took those last best photos of the love of her life and father of her children.

Even if you have never studied photo history, never heard of a momento mori or "secure the shadow ere the substance fades"; even if you have never studied the work of Nick Nixon or read Susan Sontag, some part of you knows that this is what photography is.

And you have, at some point, rummaged through photos looking desperately for images of the one your heart doesn't know how to live without. Images that serve as proof they existed, proof they loved you and proof you loved them as well as you could. Images that secure your memories, tacking them firmly into place, because the substance is fading.

Some part of you knows that the death of moments happen continuously, that we trade one life for another every day that we are lucky enough to wake.

And it is hard, if not impossible, to realize that your children will someday look for these pictures of you. They'll sift through a bazillion younger versions of themselves on your phone and on drives, seeking photos of you together, photos that align with the memory they have and fill in the memory they don't.

It is a strange place in history to be. Unlike the photographers who pulled up in horse drawn carts, urging townspeople to secure the shadow and make that singular proof of life, we are inundated with images. Flooded. We wade through them. And because we can make them anytime and in an instant, sometimes we wait. We are aware, as we scroll, that most of the images we encounter are made to keep a certain public face, not to one day become precious like a lock of hair.

We watch TED talks, we read, we listen to podcasts by thought leaders who encourage us to be vulnerable and assure us that we are enough. "Being enough" in front of a lens isn't something most of us know how to comfortably do. We know performance and we know to delete images that reveal imperfections, like the flaw might disappear with the file. To make all of ourselves visible is to be exposed, literally.

There's a practice in Japan called kintsugi where gold epoxy is used to mend broken ceramics, highlighting flaws and making the piece one of a kind. I think its also like this with your laugh lines, the softness of your aging skin, the furrow of your brow when you give them "the look", the squish of your body that they know they can bury tear-streaked faces into when they need to hide their pain from the world. So often the things we fear are showing are liquid gold.

This is why I do what I do, because I am always thinking about these complex, beautiful-ugly things. Because I know how precious and irreplaceable you are. This is why I annoy everyone in my own family, often taking pictures in moments they find puzzling or when they least want me to. Every click of the shutter is the death of a moment precisely because we are breathing and living and I am hyper aware of it. I want desperately to collect them all.

This is why I beg you to get in the picture too and to update your professional family photos often. I ask you to do this even when the world is burning and life isn't going that great, even when irreplaceable people are missing, even while living with uncertainty. Because you are alive and your story is unfolding and that's the most real reason there is.

And this is why "in home sessions" feel like my truest, deepest purpose: I know that whatever happens next, they will always see your love for them as they remember it someday in all its gorgeous, one of a kind imperfection. They will have something affirming to hold as they heal. This work we do together is rarely glossy or Insta-worthy but always kintsugi and wabi sabi and life giving. They will eat every delicious morsel of yourself that you leave behind. You don't have to put anything on social media if you don't want to, keep them in a vault if you have to. Just don't wait create them and make a practice of it.

And if you think about it, the bazillion pictures you take of your children as they grow you take for the very same reason: the death of moments and the ability to keep holding your baby, your toddler, your child, your tween and your teen after they leave you. Because some part of you knows they have never been yours and you know that photography can help us hold on but let go.

I'm choosing to share photos here that I believe will have immeasurable meaning to the child/ren in the picture one day. It could never be exhaustive but I hope you will take more, delete less, allow yourself grace, hire professionals to get the moments you can't and that you let yourself love harder in front of a lens even when you don't feel photo worthy.

Because you absolutely are.

You do everything else for them so do this.

P.s. -I'm not crying, you're crying. This is really hard.

Thanks to Kristin Sweeting for permission to share her words and especially to the amazing Kate H L who gives her love in this world and beyond, still gets in front of my lens and might be the bravest person I know. I did not share her photos here because its not her story alone, it will be all of ours one day.

a Black father plays guitar and lets his toddler son strum the strings
Black parents sit on the couch and hold their laughing baby
a young white girl climbs on her fathers neck, her hair is in her face and he is grinning
white parents participate in a fall leaf fight with their two sons
a father hugs his daughter tight while she laughs
a white mother peeks out at the camera while kissing her squirmy baby
white parents hold their baby on the couch, mother kisses her hand and father makes a cooing face
white parents snuggle their toddler who has her thumb in her mouth
a pregnant white mother lifts her toddler by a window and is beaming
a white mother is showing her son how to make pancakes, scooping batter out of a bowl
a wide shot of a a white father wiping a tear from his daughter's face, she is seated on the kitchen counter
a Black mother plays tag with her toddler in the kitchen, running after him
a middle aged mother puts her foot up on the counter while talking with her two teens seated in the kitchen