I walked away from this session with tears in my eyes.
As I have delved deeper into family photography, I've truly wanted to get to the heart of every family I photograph. If you've followed for a while, you'll have noticed my style has changed significantly from when I first began photography. Now I am drawn not only to bold colors, and epic landscapes, but also a deep, emotional connection amongst family members too. So when Brenda asked me to photograph her family, with her husband Wolf and their two kids, Jaxon and Danica, I couldn't wait to get started.
In talking with Brenda about her family, she explained that Jaxon has cerebral palsy, but that they don't see his disability, and truly they just live their lives like any other family. I was looking forward to their session and counting down the days until I got to spend some time with all of them.
When I left their session, to say the way this family loved one another took my breath away is an enormous understatement. I walked away from this session with tears in my eyes.
When Jaxon first got out of the vehicle, he came out with a tablet hanging off his shoulders. His family put him into his wheelchair. Then they told him they were taking his tablet off as they didn't want it in the photos, then Brenda looked at me and said, "this is his communication device so he won't be able to talk with us now." I wondered how they would know if he needed something or what he was thinking if they weren't able to communicate with him via the tablet.
This wasn't for me, the camera, or for the photographs
They wheeled him over to the location we would be shooting, about 15 feet from our vehicles to keep it easy for them, and I could not believe what I was seeing before my very eyes. Both mama Brenda and daughter Danica were talking in the most hilarious accents to Jaxon, doing everything to make him laugh, while dad Wolf laughed too. This entire family was laughing and having a hoot. And the thing about it was that it wasn't for me, for the camera, for the photographs. I could see without a shadow of a doubt, that this was just them. Their family dynamic. This is just who they are. I was awe struck.
Also to my amazement, they completely understood absolutely everything Jaxon was communicating with them, entirely without his tablet to help express himself. Every single look that passed across his face, every movement of his hands, of his body, they knew his language as if they had been speaking it forever, which I suppose they have.
They didn't take one single moment for granted
I think the thing that struck me more than anything else though, was the love they shared between one another. I captured so many beautiful, tender moments, that I don't even think I've had the privilege of seeing before. I think I can count on one hand how many family's, honestly how many people, I've met who are as connected, caring and loving as this family was to one another.
Family is funny, we often times take each other for granted, and I think we could all agree that that is pretty common. That was what set the Hungrywolf's apart. I could really tell they didn't take one single moment for granted. Their energy was so captivating, and it felt like with every breath I took, I was living right now, right in this moment, right along with them.
I can honestly say I've truly never experienced living in the moment with such intensity as I did during their session. I wanted to wrap myself up in that feeling and take it home to my own family, and when I returned home after their session, I hugged both my kids and my husband tightly. I think being around people who live with such immense gratitude for every moment they get spend with one another really puts the true meaning of family into perspective. It was a feeling I will never forget.
So Brenda & Wolf, if you're reading this, thank you for inviting me into your family to spend an evening with you all, capturing memories that probably felt every-day regular to you, but truly captured my heart with how rare these moments really are. Your family is beautiful, your love is beautiful and I hope these images captured that beauty.