Welcome to my blog, "Offshots," where I share a piece of my heart with you. To see more of my work, please visit EliseCampbellPhotography.com
Today is the day that I lost everything. Well, not everything. That's being quite dramatic. But I lost a big piece of me and I'm going to grow from this.
At 12:44 PM, I finally sat down to look up my old blogs, which I thought I'd saved to my computer after switching blog hosting sites. What I realized, much to my dismay, is that I'd only saved a couple of blog posts. I'm heartbroken, and that's NOT quite being dramatic.
As many of you know, I don't just post photos from recent shoots when I blog. And actually, that's the best proven way to get more traffic to a photography website, to be honest. I can't do that, though. I'm too wordy. It's a blessing and a curse. What can I say?
My words, though, especially when I'm really lost, they help me find my way back into my own heart. And, hopefully, to yours. So, if you've ever read my blog before, you'll know that I weave recent photo shoots in with my own feelings, and sculpt it into a reflective, autobiographical glimpse into what moves me, and evokes you. That's why I'm missing my old blog posts so terribly, and also why I feel a little less dramatic when I reiterate the idea that I really do feel a huge sense of loss today.
If you've ever read my blog before, you'll also know that rescuing animals is an important part of my existence. Do you remember one of my favorite blogs? The one entitled, "You're a Children's Photographer. What's Up with All the Dogs?" Me neither. I wish I could remember all of it. But the gist of it was about how developing as a photographer, and rehabilitating an animal, are remarkably related. It's about pouring your whole self into the growth of something.
And that brings me to today's post. On this day I lost not quite everything at 12:44 PM. It's about Moving Forward, and how I learned it from rescuing dogs, but how I see it in everything else.
When you first take in a dog who knows no love, who has had a horrific past, and who has never known "safe," one of the first things to do is take it for a walk. You don't let the dog outside in the back to play. You don't let it wander around the house. You don't feed it. You put it on a leash, and you walk with it.
I did it with Hannah, and I did it with Hope.
There is something so true to the core about me, and a lost soul of a dog, walking together. Connected. I don't say much. I just walk, and I stay a little bit ahead of the dog. I establish, in our silence, that I'm here now, and I've got this. I'll take the lead for awhile and it's really okay for you to let your guard down. Settle in. Rest in me, and later on, I'll rest in you.
We don't dwell on where, or worse, what, the dog is from. We don't think about the past as we walk. We don't accept it and move on. We just move forward. We move forward with such a pace and confidence that all we can do is move forward because in that moment, moving forward is all we know. Well, moving forward with a twist of love. And trust. One step at a time. I am blown away by the way these beings can trust trust again, almost immediately.
So, as much as I'd love to dwell, for another hour or two on all that I've lost - The "Dear Abby" Blog, and the blog about my photography sisters, or how we mothers need to mother each other - they can't be replaced, but I will, for sure, move forward, because the stuff that's ahead, as Hannah and Hope would assure you, well... that stuff is what I've been gearing up for all along. (And again, I feel the need to point out the dramatic flair, here, because truthfully, I continue to have so, so, so very much more than I've lost.)
Whether you're a dog, or a disheartened blogging photographer, or a kid who was picked last at recess for the 12th day in a row, or whomever, together, let's move forward - at a good pace, and with love and connectedness and confidence.
Hannah, when I first spotted her at the "shelter."
Hannah & Me, moving forward
Hannah & Me at work
Hannah & Ryan, resting into each other
Hannah & Me, resting in each other's love for the last time
Hannah in all her rehabilitated glory
Hope, when I said, "Send her to us."
Hope & Me, moving forward
Hope & Louie, moving forward
Hope, in all her glory, just before her adoptive family found her
How will YOU move forward today?
com· mun· ion
Communion. Wow. Communion.
Every spring, I’ve wondered what it is about these First Holy Communion mini shoots that makes them feel so, well, divine. I thought maybe it was the golden light, the flowering trees, or the specialness of this event in a child’s life. But it is so much more than all of this. And I thought, too, about how, when I was a kid, Communion photos were taken by a department store photographer, against a fake blue backdrop. And I wondered why, for me, that didn’t feel right.
As we work, I hear stories of a mother’s Communion medal from 1976, rosary beads that were a precious gift, Bibles that have been in the family for generations. Dad’s tie pin. Mom’s wedding veil. A cousin in Ireleand whose granddad is definitely shining some light down on us. Stories of children who were hard to conceive and born prematurely, and the parents watch as we shoot, amazed that their children are each old enough and strong enough to receive First Holy Communion. A few happy tears have been shed, for sure. (Or maybe just tears of relief, or gratitude….)
This year, though, a theme kept repeating itself when I talked to clients, fellow photographers, and anyone who follows my work. That theme is connection. When my families and I come together for a shoot, as we work, I feel especially connected to them, they tend to feel connected to one another, we are connected to the nature that surrounds us, and our images seem to capture that. For me, it is absolutely a spiritual exchange. A shared emotional experience. And so, when a simple Google search revealed the definition of communion above, I knew for sure that I was onto something.
It’s so simple, really.
Camera + Photographer + Nicely Dressed Kid + Family + A Little Light from Above.
Even in all its simplicity, I know for sure that whatever it is that we’re sharing here, it is most certainly much greater than the sum of its parts.
After such a short time – 20 magical minutes of connecting profoundly and shooting purposefully – I go home to begin editing our images.
Rainbow Cookies. 500 Hours. Last Week.
From the moment we met, my best friend-- my soul sister and I, we felt like we'd known each other forever. We have a long running joke with her daughter about how we've only all been friends for a week. And quite a week it's been!
My friend is an exceptional baker. She'll deny that, I'm sure, but she rarely sees the brightness of her own light, so her humble denial wouldn't surprise me. "I'm making rainbow cookies for my daughter. Wanna help?" she'd text. "BRT," I'd reply. As long as my kids were settled and happy, I'd drop everything, and scurry across the street, often with a bottle of chardonnay in hand. It wasn't that she really needed help. I'm useless in the kitchen. And it wasn't really that I cared much about learning to make the rainbow cookies. They happen to be my favorite cookie - and her daughter's - but she and I both knew that we needed time together, and lots of it. The rainbow cookies, as delicious as they were, well, they were never really about the rainbow cookies at all.
Ever so lovingly, with her daughter, away at college, on her mind, my friend would measure her ingredients and begin the two-day rainbow cookie making process. We'd talk about a hundred million things, and laugh so hard we'd have to cross our legs. We'd cry, too, sometimes. For Christmases, we've baked. For Thanksgivings, too. For her daugher, we've baked. For her son, we've baked. We've baked and we've laughed and we've cried and we've shared.
Ever since our friendship began (last week and yet forever ago), I must have spent at least 500 hours in her kitchen, fascinated by how precisely she counts drops of food coloring, and lovingly smoothes the chocolate on top to perfection. (I'll never forget the time I took it upon myself to to make the cookies more vibrant, and added one extra drop of red food coloring. ONE drop. Let's just say my intention wasn't very well received. :) ) And so it was only fitting, last week (for real, last week) after our world was turned upside down with my friend's sudden illness, that her daughter had the idea to make my friend's signature dessert for the nurses who have been so instrumental in her care, and to surprise my friend, as well. I watched her daughter grow up that day. When her daughter asked my children and me to join her, needless to say, I told her we'd "BRT."
And so, my friend's daughter, and my children, and a friend, we came together, and we baked. And it was a beautiful, beautiful mess.
We studied the recipe.
Some observers were a little concerned.
We messed up a little.
We counted very carefully. ;)
Hmmm...Something's not quite right. :)
We cleaned up thoroughly.
The final product? Well...
The cookies were a little flat.
We used the wrong sized pans.
The cookies brightened my friend's day,
and she really did like them.
But they weren't the same.
They weren't that pretty, and I didn't get a photo of the finished product.
But that's okay.
Because it wasn't about the rainbow cookies after all. <3
Please come home, my precious friend.
We need you, and we need YOUR rainbow cookies after all.
I'm not sure whether it's the golden sunlight, or the vibrant leaves, or the fact that all three of my children are finally in school, but Fall is quickly becoming my favorite season. There is no time of year that isn't perfect for a family photo shoot when the light is right, and the family is happy, and I've had the opportunity to capture this beautiful family with newborns, on birthdays, and yes, every fall as well.
These precious boys are so sweet, and lots of fun to spend time with, and I always have a blast because our shoots feel more like a playdate with a stroll through the park.