Happiness in Photographs: A Portrait Session in Alexandria, Virginia

by Jessica on August 10, 2011

in Gratitude Thoughts,Parenting,Photography

Happiness.  Last week when Beth announced happiness as this week’s theme for You Capture, I was pretty excited.  I figured that I would get outside with my kids, follow them around with my camera, and capture a few photos of their happiness, which is being outside in fresh air, picking up leaves and sticks and worms.  Playing make believe stories among the trees with their friends.  Running a dozen match box cars along the sidewalk’s curb.  For my children, and I think for most, happiness comes with play.

And that gets me thinking.  I wonder, what is my play?  Photography?  Well yes, yes it is.  Writing?  Yup.  Writing too.  When I get the chance to just sit down and write my heart out, I walk away feeling as though I’ve created something better than myself and am often surprised that I was capable of making such beauty (humility people, humility.  I’m not a big downer on myself, and that isn’t where this post is going).  But yes, making things, noticing beauty.  All of these parts of my life bring me so much happiness.

Meaningful work brings me happiness too.  When I was a teacher, I often put in many many hours outside of the classroom to plan and prepare my lessons.  I sometimes painstakingly orchestrated a unit’s lessons.  I loved creating the learning materials, designing the activities, and then getting to work with my students to see how my plans would unfold.  When I was a teacher, I loved teaching ages 5 and 6 and I loved teaching adult ESOL.  For both of these groups of students, learning to read and write was the bread and butter of the day.   Learning letters, writing words, sentences and achieving a paragraph were what my students needed to learn, and it gave me the greatest feeling helping them to do it.

With mothering, I find that much of what I loved about teaching language carries over into my work now.  Everyday I help my children as they gather the life lessons and materials they need to learn about the world that they are living in.  I also like to think that a big part of what I do is that I teach them a little bit about love.  And you know what they say . . . love is what makes the world go round.

As a photographer, I stay busy with planning my sessions, spending time getting to know my clients so that I can meet their expectations for a session.  I spend a great deal of time before a session setting up my studio and lighting.  I spend time selecting lenses and props.  And with all the preparation, I sometimes get lost in my work and forget about the meaning behind it all.

What really makes me happy about getting to work as a photographer is that I get to participate in helping my clients tell their stories.  I get to use this amazing piece of technology to record a moment when a child holds a leaf up to her face and just notices it.  Later, I get to sit down with a session’s images and process the photos so that they create an effect that truly carries the meaning of that moment.  I’ll soften a background.  I’ll dodge and burn to bring emphasis to a part of a photograph.   I’ll vignette a photograph to highlight the way my subjects, a father and daughter, sit with each other. In a way, I feel that the work I do now, the art of photography, is helping to tell a story.   And with child and family photography, a big part of that story is love.

Below are a few images from a recent 2 year old portrait session.  Her parents and I worked so hard to engage her in play.  To try and get her to forget that my camera was present.  I could see how  much her parents love her and I could see how badly her mom and dad wanted a good photograph of their baby at age 2.  These are a few of my favorites from the session.

Meanwhile, I think that what made this little girl happiest was getting her lollipop at the end of the session, :-)  Such a sweety.

So let me ask you this, what makes you happy?  Have you thought about whether your work makes you happy and why it does or doesn’t?  Also, do meaningful parts of your life help you feel happy?  I love to hear your stories so share away, ok?

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{ 7 comments }

emily August 13, 2011 at 6:58 pm

she is adorable! Love the pictures…especially the last one!

Jessica August 13, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Teresa, your photos of your farm are amazing! I just stopped by your blog today to see the baby chicks and oh my goodness, they are adorable! You are very lucky to be surrounded with so much beauty though I bet that you work hard on the farm to keep the animals taken care of and happy too. I LOVE your blog!

Jessica August 13, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Thank you Yvonne! Yes, this little girl was gorgeous. Her parents are doing a great job!

Jessica August 13, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Thank you Corrie! I too get great satisfaction when I notice how I have grown here or there with my photography. It is a good feeling.

Corrie August 12, 2011 at 9:24 pm

I love your pictures! More and more I find happiness as I take pictures that I know are better than they used to be… wonderful post!

Yvonne August 11, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Wow. Stunning photos! What a beautiful little girl :)

Teresa August 11, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Those are wonderful pictures! I must say photography makes me happy too, but I just take pictures of my life on the farm~the animals are my real happiness.

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