My good friend's father passed away this week, world news is unbearable, it's a sunny spring day, and I just had lunch with my aunt and uncle who were passing through Madison on their way to the Twin Cities.
At lunch we talked about family and children and they told me some stories that I hadn't heard before. Stories that brought tears and made my heart ache.
They also let me photograph them. I hadn't warned them ahead of time, so they had no chance to prepare or primp or get dressed up. I photographed them as they were in that moment. After 43 years of marriage, 5 children and 13 grandchildren, they are still best friends. One of the things I love about them is how kind they are to each other.
I have done 35 photoshoots so far this year, and when I look through my portfolio I feel deep warmth and appreciation for every person who trusted me enough to get in front of my lens.
It's an intimate thing, photographing someone's portrait. When you are in front of my lens, I see you. I see everything you don't like about yourself. I see your discomfort. I see your hope and cautious optimism. I see everything that is conventionally or unconventionally beautiful about you.
I see your light. I see your sense of humor. I see your need to be loved. I see the spirit that enlivens your body.
The hair and makeup and clothes are fun, but ultimately they're just props. It's that enlivening spirit that makes a great photograph.
People are so beautiful.