Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Show Your Real: Kellie

A friend of mine "introduced" me to Kellie about a year ago, just before we moved to Ohio. She thought I'd be inspired by her work, and SHE WAS RIGHT. People, Kellie is awesome. Like, super talented, ridiculously nice, beyond adorable, and again I say- SUPER TALENTED. I know, I know, all caps is annoying, but I don't know any other way to tell you that she is so GOOD at what she does.
Well actually...I do: go to her site, look at all of her images, drool a bunch, and then book her for a session (or four). 

(Kellie- in addition to being a incredible photographer- is also incredibly humble, so she'll die when she sees the gushing link fest I just posted. But she did a family photoshoot for me, and then she agreed to do this post, so I'm going to pretend like we're best friends, and that I have license to embarrass her with my bragging.)

Her work would be enough to make me want to highlight her here, but she's got a beautiful heart behind all that crazy light-bending talent, and I'm so grateful she was open to sharing some of that with us. Read & enjoy. 

I am a mother and photographer. Like so many other moms with cameras, I started clicking away when my kids were born: time was moving far too quickly and I was desperate to slow it down…or at least record it so that I could revisit the past as my kids grew at lightning speed without my permission. And so, armed with a point-and-shoot, and then an entry level DSLR, and now with two professional camera bodies and a happy collection of lenses, I set about my work of being the self-appointed visual historian of our family.

I am so grateful that I have photography as a means of artistic expression while simultaneously recording the lives of my kids, but this is dangerous work. Not because it is easy to get wrapped-up in the I want the latest and greatest camera equipment game (though that can happen). And not because I can stay up all night looking at their faces on my computer screen, lost in years of images of their sweet faces (though that does happen from time to time). And its not because I get lost in my thoughts when I find pretty pockets of light around the house or photo-worthy locations on the side of the road (though this happens all the time). No, the danger in being a photographer is not the cost or the time or the distractions, but rather in the temptation of perfection.

You see, the better I get at this photography gig (and I am far from being the best I can be…), the better I get at making everything look perfect. It starts with finding light that magically softens wrinkles and it grows until I can shrink waistlines and erase boogers and replace faces from one photograph with another, more cooperative face. People, I can paint RAINBOWS INTO THE SKY. None of these things is dangerous all by itself…Photoshop is an amazing little tool and as an artist I allow myself to have this control over my finished product. But all of that perfection in images can lead to something far more treacherous: the expectation of perfection in real life.

My life is not perfect. It is full of wrinkles and waistlines that spill over jeans and boogers and goofy faces. My life is overflowing with laundry and dust bunnies and boxed mac n’ cheese dinners. There are days when I yell, days where my kids cry, days when we *all* whine like babies. My life is full of imperfections, and yet I can see these perfect photos and it is easy to forget the magic that made them happen. It is easy to want the completely unrealistic perfect and to be afraid to reveal the un-Photoshopped life to the world. It is easy to get so caught-up in capturing the wonderful that I forget to be grateful for what is real and right in front of me.
Am I going to stop painting rainbows? Goodness, no! But I am working to remind myself that the reason I picked-up that point and shoot over a decade ago was to record the now: to stop time for 1/640 second and be able to hold it in my hand. So maybe I can put the clone tool away and keep the smear of sweet potatoes on his face. Because someday he will be able to use a napkin and won’t need me to clean it for him. Maybe I can stop fretting over the belly. Because that skin stretched to hold four gorgeous babies and gave me my reason for living. Maybe I can be okay that the oldest kid wouldn’t smile when the younger kids were willing. Because someday we will all look at that photo and laugh, remembering his prepubescent mood swings. 

Maybe we should all give the imperfect mess of our lives a little grace. Because that mess is what we are going to miss.



Show Your Real is a series of guest posts centered around the concept of authenticity. The goal is to encourage each other to expose the reality of our lives- good and bad- and to foster a sense of community that goes beyond the often surface-y interactions of social media. And you're all invited to participate! Please write, caption, comment, link, and hashtag t
o spread the #showyourreal love. And if you would like to contribute a guest post to the series, please email me (cjsbowden@gmail.com).

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