A few weeks ago I had the honor of photographing a mother and her two daughters. I’ve known the mom for over 16 years now and have known the girls since they were born. I see and feel their bond and connection. It warms my heart knowing the love, respect and admiration that exists between them. And I wish I could have experienced that. I didn’t have that kind of relationship with my mother. Not everyone does.
My mother was mentally ill — bipolar, personality disorder. And she never sought treatment for it even though she was fully aware she had a mental illness. There was a really bad stigma surrounding mental illness when she was growing up and even though perceptions and attitudes shifted over the years she never bought into it.
As a child I knew something was wrong with my mother and that she needed help. I also bore the brunt of her anger and disenchantenment with life because of her mental illness. My father bore a great deal of that as well. But he was a grown man. I was a little girl. As an adult I became keenly aware of her mental illness and tried helping her many times, always hoping that someday maybe she would come around and we could have a decent relationship. But that never happened.
So over the years I withdrew from her. I cut emotional ties at a very young age, in fact I remember when that happened. I was eight years old and she was threatening to kill herself, showing me the handful of pills she was planning on taking and telling me that she wouldn’t wake up the next day. My thoughts were who is going to make my breakfast and take care of my brothers? So I cut the cord. Why be connected to someone that might not be there the next day? There were many, many, many other instances where that disconnection would prove necessary and vital for my own well being.
And she never understood why I disconnected. It was for self-preservation. And eventually my mother died and I was relieved that it was all finally over.
I embrace my story. I don’t use it as an excuse for everything that hasn’t or isn’t going my way. I’ve forgiven the wrongs I felt were done to me. All of my experiences related to this (as well as other life events) brought me to who I am today, so ultimately I’m grateful for it all.
I’m not relaying this to be dark or to elicit sympathy. I guess what I’m getting at here is that if you have a good relationship with your mother or your daughter, be grateful. Be grateful that any conflict is just superficial and meaningless in the big scheme of things. Be grateful for that bond and connection because not every mother and daughter has it. Be understanding and compassionate to each other. Be forgiving and loving. And if you have a good relationship with your mother or daughter honor it. And if you’re like me and you didn’t or don’t have that, know that you are not alone. It’s very challenging when society deems that we must all have this relationship when sometimes it’s just not possible.
I’m seriously not trying to be Debbie Downer here! I only want to share my experiences and how they affect and drive me to use my vision and talent. Maybe that experience is more lighthearted like this one. Or sometimes maybe it isn’t. Either way, we are all shaped by our experiences and as a portrait photographer those experiences help to shape my work. And that work is to create images that will always be there to remind you of something whether it’s the goofiness of your kids, whether it’s your own personal power or whether it’s the love between you and your mother/daughter.
And now onto the light!!
Simply put this mother and her lovely daughters are beautiful, loving, kind, talented, intelligent and overall AMAZING. Talk about light. They beam it from their very core. What’s that song, something about it’s so bright I gotta wear shades? So, we did a photo shoot to capture ALL of this and honor their wonderful relationship. And it was SO. MUCH. FUN!!!
I wanted to create three distinct looks for them so we went with something more casual, something more glamourous and something more creative with a vintage/boho flair. I knew they would all have fun with hair and make-up and the whole day was meant to be a dress up, pampering, mother/daughter day out. We did groups shots, individual shots and mom with each daughter by herself. We had chocolate covered strawberries, tea and snacks. It seriously was the perfect girls day.
And I had the extreme honor, pleasure and joy of creating images of these three beautiful women for them to cherish for the rest of their lives. It’s difficult to call it work when it brings me this much joy and satisfaction. As I viewed and edited each image, looking at their eyes, their energy and that light, I was constantly finding myself tearing up. This actually happens a lot when I’m editing my clients’ photos!
And now I present the utterly beautiful, incredibly amazing, Sosa Ladies. Put your shades on folks.