Cupid creeps me out. I’m all for gods of Love, gods of Desire and gods of Chocolate-filled Confection, but a chubby, winged, naked baby boy wielding weaponry is the freak kind of character I’d expect to see in an E*Trade commercial during the Super Bowl. For the record, I think Santa has issues too, but that’s a whole other blog post.
For all its Hallmark-inspired flaws and grossly over-inflated flower prices, what I do love about Valentine’s Day is the opportunity it presents. You can be a complete idiot almost every other day of the year, but Valentine’s Day gives you that one obvious, can’t-miss chance to be a winner. It’s the lowest-hanging fruit of all the “buy-crap-for-people-to-show-them-you-love-them” holidays.
Even when the reason is contrived and mass-marketed, it never hurts to give someone some sugar. Even if it’s just for the guy who waits until the very last minute to merge when the road narrows to one lane, despite the bright orange warning signs and flashing lights for 3,000 feet. He probably just got dumped for being a bad driver with literacy issues, so spare him some sugar.
Valentine’s Day also serves as a photographic opportunity to look for the different kinds of love that can exist within a family. One of the families I photographed last fall and never got a chance to blog about (tsk-tsk!) is a great example of the moments you can look for. They’re a kaleidoscope of generations, experiences and ultimately, love.
Their family’s story is inter-generational. Grandma Chon possesses the quiet strength and dignity you’d expect from a seasoned woman, but she plays and laughs with her grandchildren, Lily and Michael, with the unburdened alacrity of a much younger woman.
As a parent, the reason you use your camera the most is probably to capture those tender moments between siblings; the moments that will take the form of giant billboards in your walk down Memory Lane someday. While YOU will probably never need those photographs as a reminder of their special bond, someday THEY might need that reminder.
Lily and Michael are so very different from one another, but so very close. They can both dish it out knowing they will always have a buddy when the road gets bumpy.
The love of a parent for a child goes in the category of things you can’t possibly understand until you experience them yourself…like Skittles and the Internet. This is my favorite kind of family dynamic to photograph because it’s in a state of constant metamorphosis. Photograph these moments as often as possible.
It’s those moments that happen after the session when the light is horrible, but a 5-year old boy leans into his dad for a kiss. It’s when a 7-year old girl clings to her rock of a mother on whom she depends to help her make sense of a rapidly changing Girl World, to share secrets and to snuggle before it’s not cool anymore.
Then of course, there’s the love of style. I love a girl who’s not afraid of a “statement shoe.”
Michael’s current love is for his bike and his iPad. Sometimes things are going your way and sometimes The Angry Birds just aren’t that into you.
I can never end a Family Life Session without photographing the root of it all. Julie and Andrew are a blog post until themselves. Their history together is long and beautiful, punctuated by the joys and trials we all have, but framed by a shared vision for their family. Simply put, Julie and Andrew are two peas in a very snuggly pod.
Even though it’s Valentine’s Day and there are creepy, winged babies flying around with arrows aimed at your heart, consider this day your opportunity to photograph small moments of whatever kinds of love you have in your family; a grandparent’s hands wrapped around their grandchild’s, the messy, gluttonous love your son has for the box of chocolates he brings home from school, the bedtime story your husband does with the kids each night.
It’s all about the sugar.
Happy Valentine’s Day,