I have always felt the passage of time and the affection for and from other people strongly.
Even as a young child I knew how much my parents loved me, felt sentimental about time passing too quickly, didn’t want to grow up but just wanted to hold on to things, people and memories a little longer than time allowed.
When I was in 6th grade my class put on a production of Our Town (pretty ambitious of my teachers I realize now) and I was over the moon that I got to play the lead role of Emily. The play follows a ordinary life, lived in an ordinary town by ordinary people but the play makes the point that there is nothing ordinary about that at all. It’s all the little things in life that add up to how amazing and beautiful it is to be alive.
In the 3rd act of the play Emily has died and gets the chance to look back on one day of her life. It is heart breaking to her because everyone is so busy doing things that she can’t get her mother to even STOP and just LOOK at her. . . and she asks, “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?–every, every minute?”
The Stage Manager answers (in something that has stuck with me all these years): “No. Saints and poets maybe. . . they do some.”
I knew that I was meant to be one of those people who could realize life, realize the importance and possibly even share that with others. Age and tiredness and worries about mortgages and dental check ups and missing socks (where DO they go- really? 2 go into the washing machine and one comes out??). . . have dulled my 11 year old self’s pledge to be one of this saints or poets who realizes life every minute.
But when I go to a wedding or arrive to photograph a new baby- I feel it so strongly, because the people experiencing these momentous occasions are stopping to think back on all the little moments and memories that have brought them to this point. I get caught up in it and I want to show them not just how beautiful they are on that day, in this setting- but how incredibly beautiful their life and their love for each is. How there is nothing ordinary about them- and give them that gift of realizing it too.
That’s why the parents at weddings ALWAYS make me cry. They are seeing SO much more than their daughter looking beautiful, or the table settings, they are seeing time pass before their eyes. They are seeing late nights rocking in a chair with their baby curled up in their arms, sticky grape popsicles melting into a carpet that will never be the same, awkward haircuts and braces and lazy summer days where they didn’t do much of anything and now this. . . this woman stands before them fiddling with her veil, asking if the florist has arrived yet and it hits them. . . she’s all grown up. She’s starting her own family today. And I feel it in my bones.
And I want to capture a piece of that love, that understanding of all that beauty in all those ordinary moments, just a piece of it- with my camera. So that they can see it too- in case they were too busy with the details of the day to realize just how strong that love is. I don’t know that I often am able to do that but I try and will keep trying.
The photo below is taken during the father daughter dance at a wedding a few years back. That’s the bride’s mother looking on, and remembering.