Nearly two years ago I happened upon a YouTube video of Kelly Corrigan talking about her book Lift and instantly was taken by her. She spoke her truth and I understood her message. After I read Lift, I felt a sense of relief knowing I’m not alone. Her honesty was like a giant wave of sanity crashing down on me. Suddenly I had more clarity around motherhood and ultimately around my photographic journey.
In the book she reflects upon how quickly her oldest (still only in 3rd grade) was growing up and away from her. I totally broke down. She said “we won’t come back here.” That simple statement sent a jolt through me. At first I thought my tears were of remorse for not being a better mom, but then I realized I was crying because I found my voice. I finally felt like I had words to go with the pictures I was taking… I realized why I was shooting the way that I do.
Since reading her books, I’ve embraced who I am as a mother. And the most important lesson I’ve learned is that no matter how badly I want to, I can’t slow down. We, as parents, can’t slow down. There is always going to be something that needs to be done. Be it the dishes, laundry, shopping, work, more dishes, cooking, carpool, etc… the to-do list is ever growing. And let’s face it, even if we figured out a way to slow down, would we? Our mommy guilt would kick in about the heaping mound of dirty laundry, or about how we made mac and cheese three times in a week just to save a little time. We can’t change it, so we have to figure out a way to live with it.
For me photography is the answer. It reduces my own personal mommy-guilt. Figuring out how to capture all those special moments and simple family pleasures in one day was monumental for me. I can easily give myself permission to spend one day a year to slow down enough to let my family be photographed as we are. I want my life captured in a day. This instantly allows me to let go of any guilt I have around motherhood because I have pictures of a time in my life that seems to move by too quickly. Maybe I won’t take the time now to enjoy the photos, but 5 years from now, I just know those pictures will become my most treasured possessions. And more importantly, my crazy kids will know what their childhood was like. That they were happy, loved and indeed crazy.
Kelly’s words helped push me toward doing the in-depth Family Life photography that I hold so dear to my heart. So thank you, Kelly Corrigan. You’ve helped me in so many ways… personally and professionally.
When I first met Kelly I was a little starstruck, but after she gave me a giant hug and welcomed me in, any anxiety I had was gone. This woman is the real deal. She is exactly how I had imagined she would be. Warm, funny, and a wonderful mom.
This very first picture made me so happy! She’s trying to convince her youngest to get out of bed… it was a struggle, but mom won out in the end. And why did it make me so happy? Because this is what their life is like… it’s real and it’s perfect.
Kelly has a sweet and special relationship with her girls. A quiet deep connection. There’s a lot of mutual respect.
I love the picture near the end- after the chocolate chips had been added mom just gave the girls permission to sample the dough. Personally I think it’s the best part of baking cookies. I have been known to eat more dough than I bake. ;)
Their sweet chocolate lab is very handy in the kitchen… who needs a roomba when you have a dog, right?
In case I failed to mention, which I’m sure I did, that Kelly’s writing is not only poignant, but it’s also hilarious. I laughed out loud while reading both Lift and The Middle Place. Her humor is clearly not only reserved for the written word… note small, furry animal on the piano. Kelly felt her daughter’s hamster needed some camera time, too. She found the perfect spot for him to get in on the action… that is until he pooped.
Listening to her girls play the piano was a bit of a flashback for me. My mom and dad both played, but it’s something I regretfully never took up. After seeing these pictures once again, I think I’ll see about lessons for my crazies… it’s okay to force culture onto your kids, right? (please say yes, please say yes.)