DPP ’11 // December 30th // Portraits

Today I had to try and get a photograph of myself for a project I will be doing with my new students next week…and I hate getting photographs of myself.  I love being behind the camera and capturing moments.  A few months ago, while taking her Superhero Journal online photography class, Andrea posted about forgetting her camera when attending a wedding.  She reflected,

“I had to consider what I was really attached to. The gift I wanted to give them? My compulsion to capture beauty? My desire to be useful? Something to do with my hands if I didn’t feel like small talk? Maybe it was all of that. But I do wonder sometimes what I am missing when I have my camera. It is a balance I am very curious about and try to stay conscious of– how much (and when) does my camera bring me deeper into the moment and when does it pull me farther away?”

This concept has stuck with me since and I’ve been trying to get into the photographs more, attempt to get over my imperfections that the camera seems to magnify and just be present.  To not miss out on the experience at hand.

After having Matt (and Alex) snap some portraits of me, Alex asked if I could take a series of him.  This one is my favorite—

And Monday, my friend Elena caught this one—-

And wowee….it’s hard for me to put into words what these pictures do.  I love the opportunity to try and capture a person in a still image.  I have plenty of Alex being completely silly and ridiculous, Mr. Ham Himself.  But I love seeing into him a bit.  He had so much fun doing the portraits today, that he asked to have my camera and went to work.  He took over 200 portraits (thank goodness for digital).  A series of strollers.  A series of playground equipment.  A series of trees and the dusk-enveloping sky.  A series of babies and toddlers at the park.  A series of close up sand pictures.  Here’s a few of our family he captured.

I had the chance to visit my new class before the holiday break and take their portraits.  Four were missing for vacation already, but I got to snap images of each of those present.  It was also pajama day, so the attire is quite sweet!

So much goodness in a 4 x 6 array.  {I’m practicing my multiplication facts already, folks!}  I am a bit giddy over the chance to get to know these kids more and more over the next few months.  Totally nervous and scared too, but most of all, excited.  And so today, when I overheard a conversation at the park, I realized I was having a “Mama Bear” moment, as my former boss/principal used to lovingly call these situations.

The two folks, one with a nine month old daughter, and the other with a one year old, were discussing schools.  And home prices.  And how they connect.  How your financial value is clearly tied to your home and the school it puts you in.  The park we were at literally divides two school boundaries…one is a top school in town, the other is one of the lowest, where I’ll be teaching.  And hearing their conversation over these two schools was heart-wrenching.  And convicting (as I know I have struggled with these issues myself with an incoming kindergartner next year).

Portraits give me the chance to capture the essence of my students at a moment in time.  I had the gift of doing so for many of my classes of students and summer staffers at Westminster Woods.  And for me, it is a reminder that each of us are individuals.  Each has a story to tell.  Each has life experiences that shape and mold.  Each has hopes, dreams, goals.  Each has challenges and rough patches.  And the challenge to me, and to each of us, is to look beyond the numbers.  Beyond the exterior.  Beyond the “understood reality”.  And to see something much deeper and truer.  To seek out the stories, experiences, hopes, dreams, goals, challenges.  To listen and truly hear.  And as Andrea shared, to be present in the moment.

As this month, and the December Photo Project is coming to an end tomorrow, I have been thinking a lot about 2011 and 2012.  What has been.  What is coming.  Capturing images this month has been a gift, similar to last year.  I love looking back and seeing through pictures what has been.  As New Year’s Eve rolls around tomorrow, and the year of 2011 comes to a close, I am thankful for the the chance this blog has been for me to listen, pay attention, remember, and reflect.  And as 2012 creeps closer, I wonder what will come.  I know I’ll set goals and dream dreams.  And I know many goals and dreams won’t be met the way I expected.  But, I’m hoping that through it all, I will hold fast to the desire to keep looking deeper in those I’m around and in myself and family.  To call out of each one, the gifts that lie beneath the surface.  To name the places they shine….and to celebrate.

“God sat over dark nothing and wrote me specifically into the story….

Enjoy your place in my story.

The beauty of it means you matter

and you can create within it even as I have created you.’”

–Don Miller “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”

2 thoughts on “DPP ’11 // December 30th // Portraits

    1. Colin Fletcher found out the same thing when his camera started to malfunction in his walk through the Grand Canyon. He was counting on having his pictures to remind him of the trip at the end of the trip but realized that his memories would have to be stored in his head instead. Jerry Julian

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