Four I found out this morning, is my daughter's new favorite number. I thought to myself, remember this so when she plays the 'guess which one' game, I should guess the 4th one. I title this blog post Finding Joy in Four because that is what Willa Freer has set out to do every day with her four children. When I have thought about 4 children, I have to admit I first think chaos, stress and then Ahhh! And yes of course there those moments, I know because I witnessed Willa racing into the parking lot at Sandy Point Beach for our shoot and she said " Do you have any make-up. I didn't pack any for this trip". I laughed, I did. But beyond herding four littles bodies of energy, will and emotion around there is a wonderful possibility in four. There is four times the amount of times a parent can experience curiosity and joy alongside their child. Four times the amount of hugs, four times the amount of laughs and four times the amount of surprises. And as a parent I can also say, four times the amount of times you could find yourself looking at the face of your child in admiration of who they are, this little piece of you and a whole lot more.
Let me tell you a little story that ties into the title. While editing Willa's shoot that we did in late August, I was thinking about what a student at the Waldorf school I teach at on Friday afternoons told me. (I teach swing and latin dance to the students there.) I had asked the students a week prior to go home and try to teach their parents the basics of they had learned. Friday I checked in with them to see how that went and hear any funny stories. The students all stared at me blankly as only high school students can. Then Natasha piped up. She said " I thought about showing my Dad, but after 3 hours he wouldn't get it and then he would get mad and be grumpy with me so I decided not to". I nodded and recalled times I have been grumpy with my daughter. Hearing what she had to say was a reminder to me to try not to be to busy to try new things with my child, even if I have no desire to learn, at first, because she wants to share with me. Even if dinner hasn't been made or whatever chores need to be done. Time spent with our kids can help ease the stress of grown up life in this world today.
This weekend I saw on Willa's Instagram post that she had taken her kids to the Baltimore Museum of Science. She said " Never stop being curious with your kids - curiosity and the ability to approach our world openly and thoughtfully is the light that will shine through the dark." I couldn't agree with her more and this is a phylosophy I too had discovered I had when having my own daughter.
I have gotten to know Willa since my daughter was a baby and her and her mom first came to meet with me at my house to discuss her wedding. I had no idea then of all the wonderful memories we will have shared and captured in the 11 years since. Looking over this shoot with Willa and her children, it is now I understand more fully why she appreciates having shoots with me year after year and why I like doing them. Willa has said to me there is just something about my pictures and I have smiled back appreciatively. Photographing natural expressions and faces of a child is more than just playing games with them and laughing. It is also letting them explore their world uninterrupted. Photographing that is something that I believe makes for a beautiful picture. Bea walking in the tall sea grass with the wind in her hair is more that just prettiness, it is a child submerged in nature engaged with all her senses. For a moment that you gaze at the image a part of you can imagine with all your senses as well.
What I take away from editing this shoot and thinking life over is Finding Joy in Four as a parent means is found when choosing on purpose to enjoy our children each and every day. And every day, enter into their world for a time. Like my Rev. Lewis said Sunday in his sermon I listened to on FB, "Get out of yourself and your own proclivities to encourage on another".
I hope you have gotten something out of this blog post and understood my approach more in photographing children and the type of images I create in time well spent together. Thank you and feel free to leave a comment. I love to hear from you.