As a kid, being a part of a military family means moving every couple of years, making new friends at new schools, and saying goodbye to old ones. Simultaneously, it means new friends, new places, and inevitably new adventures. For most of us childhood memories are probably linked to the same general area; we aren't forced out of the comfort of the life we know with people we trust. We aren't forced to build new relationships time and time again. For Tessa and Maddox though, this moving around, making new friends, learning new places is normal..... But so is the adventuring.
Their mom, Teri, emailed me a few weeks ago about doing their family photos at Mystic Rose Arabians where Tessa takes horseback riding lessons. She had seen the last set of kids photos with the horses that Jennifer had helped bring to life. She told me that it was tradition now that they have their photos shot somewhere that's been meaningful to all of them while they've lived in that particular city. In Memphis, that place is Mystic Rose. I was honored - honored to capture a piece of their life here in Tennessee that they can now take with them wherever they go.
When I met them, there was no fear of getting their clothes dirty, there were no concerns about keeping their hair fixed, and for the most part, they weren't even worried about sitting still for the pictures. Instead, with the exception of a couple shots, we just played. We spun in circles. We searched for mushrooms and fairies. Tessa rode the horse that she has come to love. We ran through fields of flowers - me with my camera slung across my body lens wide open shooting into the sun so as to capture that flare, the certain glow that sprinkles the too tall grass with sunlight here in the south. The yellow flowers tangled themselves around Tessa and Maddox's legs. Essentially breaking "the rules" of family portraits and photography at the same time.
George Orwell wrote, "The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection."
While I was editing, I found the out of focus shots, the blur of motion in the grass, Tessa's dress, the sticks that Maddox was carrying, and instead of ruling them out for not being perfect, I loved them. And then I remembered that in most of my creative process experiences, the moment that I stop working towards perfection is the moment that I fall in love with my work again. I remember that sometimes, it's okay to break all the rules, and that the experiences are sometimes more valuable than the formal education.
So, without further ado, here you have Tessa and Maddox with their parents, adventuring full force, embracing life with open arms, getting dirty, tangled in weeds, hugging horses, and loving life and each other so raw and authentically you can feel it through their photos. Are they all perfectly posed and retouched? No. Are they still beautiful? Yes. Beautiful and imperfect just like life. And most of all, they are honest; they are real.