On Mother's Day, we let the mothers in our lives know how special they are to us and celebrate all women who serve the role of "mother" to anyone they love. For some, it can be a time of sadness as they might be dealing with a loss in some way. For others, it can be stressful as they feel that they have to live up to some sort of standard. In reality, the moms just want to have a day to enjoy and maybe get a little break from the usual day-to-day responsibilities. Let's face it. A mother's work is never done. Becoming a mother requires that you accept the following:
Once you have come to terms will all of the above, then you need to understand that the following will be also be true:
And since they will need to be asking Mom all of the above, then one must be prepared for:
As much as we must find the humor in this vocation of motherhood, we also need to recognize the power and responsibility that comes with it. Seriously, though.... who would voluntarily sign up for a job that requires dedication 24/7 for the absolute rest of one's life? A job that isn't measured by bottom lines or spreadsheets of data, but in the well-being, success, and happiness of another individual's life. This job has no sick days, no retirement plan, no 20-year recognition watch, no employee of the month. It does come with insurance of gray hair, wrinkles, sleepless nights, and a drained bank account. So, why do so many aspire to become mothers? Why do current mothers claim that motherhood is the best part of their lives? I guess we must look to the children for the answers.
My role as a portrait photographer has given me a unique perspective. The view through my lens shows me the deep connections between mothers and their families. The nature of these connections changes over time, but it can be felt; and, I get to capture it in portraits. This is the greatest gift that I can give to my clients. Doing my job means providing a permanent and lasting treasure that embodies and translates those emotional ties into a beautiful portrait. The portrait that is taken this year will look and feel different than a portrait taken next year because of the growth that happens in the relationship. It is such a beautiful thing for the eyes and the heart.
Working with mothers and their new itty bitty little ones is so much fun. There is excitement and everything is just adorable. I become quite animated behind the camera with all of my "ooh's" and "ahh's" as I can't help but react to all of the adorableness happening on the other end of my lens. I know how stressed and tired these moms have to be, yet they are all smiles because they are so appreciative of the treasured portraits we are creating. Just look at these smiles! These are genuine smiles that reflect the genuine beauty of their love.
When I get to work with moms and their older children, I still see genuine smiles, but they have a little different nuance. These smiles show a sense of the pride that they feel from the success of raising such wonderful children. The smiles are not trying so hard to hide insecurities or to stifle yawns. They reflect the deeper connection that has been created through the years. I particularly see that in the portraits of mothers with their daughters. There is a kindred spirit and a sense of dependence on each other. Their relationship has grown into a unique friendship with a level of trust like no other. Notice how tightly they hold on, as if they understand this moment is priceless.
Portraits of mothers and their sons have a slightly different essence. Again, I absolutely love the sincere smiles, but what I read behind them is special. The connectedness that warms my heart is one that has grown out of mutual respect. I see sons who respect their devoted mothers, and mothers who respect the young men they have raised. I can feel the protective nature of the sons for their mothers and that stems from love and respect. Taking these portraits usually involves some playful teasing as we set up the shot, but I can always sense the adoration that the young men have for their mothers.
Another opportunity to capture the role of a mother is on wedding day. My, do the emotions run deep on this day! I think every mother looks to their child on their wedding day and relives every moment that has led up to this event. It is such a significant rite of passage, that mothers feel the need to pass on all of life's lessons, knowing the significance of this big step. These smiles are sometimes a result of laughter that is trying to mask the tears. Nonetheless, these smiles reveal a heart that is bursting with love for all that they have had with their child, and for all that is to come. Such is the cycle of life.
It has all been fun and games so far, but now we get to the really good stuff. We have seen how children can be the source of a smile on their mother's face, but that dulls in comparison to the smiles generated by grandchildren. I'm not sure if it comes with the wisdom of experience, or if the lack of total responsibility is the cause, but grandmas see perpetual halos on their grandchildren and are not afraid to tell everyone about it. So, getting portraits of this generation split is always a crowd-pleaser. It makes me giddy knowing how much these portraits are treasured.
On a personal note, I must admit that I am blessed with some absolutely amazing women in my life. My own mom is my absolute best friend, and I know that I rely on her guidance more than I should. We are alike in so many ways, and I take that as the greatest compliment I could receive. As a mother, myself, I have been gifted with two daughters who have the most beautiful hearts and make me proud and happy every day.
As a mother, I do have one regret. I feel compelled to share this, as I am willing to bet that many other moms are guilty of the same. Did you notice that I have no updated professional portraits of myself with my family? The family portrait that you see above is from 2018, the last time we went on a vacation. Most pictures were most-likely taken with someone's phone, and there are very few, at that. As they say, "the cobbler's children have no shoes." I am always behind the camera, rather than in front of it. Even if professional portrait photography was not my career, the situation would be the same.
Why? I never feel worthy of professional portraits. I always think that I will get around to it after I lose 10 pounds. I want to wait for summer when I have a tan. I need for my bangs to grow out. I want to get the flower beds done outside first so we can have a nice background. Well, guess what. The kids are grown and I have no nice portraits of myself with them to document every stage along the way. I can't fix that. It is too late. However, I can help other people to avoid that mistake.
So, Moms...... GET IN THE PICTURES WITH YOUR KIDS! Time goes too fast. You are beautiful. Your smile makes you beautiful. Your connections with your kids make you beautiful. This stage in your life is beautiful because you were placed in this time and place for a purpose. Let's document all of it because it matters. You matter and you are worth it!
Happy Mother's Day!
Love and Smiles,