Even though the teenage years are right around the corner for my own family, that season still seems mysterious and scary and I have no idea what to expect. I cannot imagine my kids having armpit hair and taking Driver's Ed and doing math problems beyond my comprehension (although, lets be real, that last ship has already sailed).
So when I photographed Leilani Rogers (whom I met when we were both speakers at a Birth Photography Conference called Off-Call) in Austin, Texas I was excited/nervous to photograph her family. Would they think I was a crazy old lady? What would we even DO?
Little kids play with blocks and make messes.
Teenagers text and roll their eyes at their parents -- At least that is what they do on television.
Leilani's baby is 10, the same age as my oldest child. So I felt like I was kind of peering into a crystal ball foreseeing what my future holds. After a few hours with the Rogers Family I can now say that maybe life with teenagers won't be so scary. It turns out that while they DO like their phones, they also have their own passions about music and art (and which is better Harry Potter or Star Wars). They still love legos, and hugs, and cookies with sprinkles. They sleep in bunkbeds and run around in the backyard. They ask mom for help when they need it but can clean and cook and read big books. Sometimes they seem like little kids in big bodies. And other times they seem like full fledged adults.
I'm still nervous about my kids becoming teenagers. And many days I wring my hands in worry, wondering if I am screwing them up. But I am reminded of a quote by Elyse Fitzpatrick:
There are times when I miss having a squishy baby that blows kisses and waves backwards. But it feels like every day my kids are alive they become more and more of themselves. More of the people God created them to be. And I am excited to see who my little people become. I cannot control the outcome, but I don't have to worry. I don't have to do it all right. I can rest in God's promise that He is bigger and smarter and stronger than me. That his plan for their lives is perfect.
And now I seem to have gone down a rabbit hole that has nothing to do with photography. But really it has everything to do with it!
Families are complex and beautiful and it is hard to capture all of that in a traditional portrait taken at the park in matching white shirts. I love that I have permission to go into families homes and photograph their mundane moments. I love that I am able to see beautiful things in other people and apply them to my own life and heart. I love that I can fear the future for my own family, and then be comforted by photographing another. I love that I don't have to be the best photographer and control everything. I don't have to worry. I don't have to do it all right. I can trust that the story I am photographing is more beautiful than my technical skill and just be present to appreciate whatever happens.
I will be traveling to Long Island, NY in July. Email me at hello (at) mollyflanagan (dot) com if you are in the area and are interested in a Storytelling Session for your family or a one-on-one mentorship. Other Possible Stops: Virginia Beach, OBX, Annapolis/Eastern Shore, Maryland, Richmond, Lancaster, PA, New Jersey, Shenandoah, VA.
My class Real Life Still Life is being offered at The Define School in May. Registration is open until April 24th. As photographers we can get so focused on the PEOPLE in our lives that we leave out many details which contribute to the stories we are telling. This class focuses on photographing everything but the people. It is a refreshing class where we go through the history of Still Life in art and learn how to apply it to our photography today. I love this class SO much and am super excited to be teaching it again!