Friday, November 21, 2014

picture imperfect

I bring my camera with me almost everywhere.

There have been many times I've actually forgotten my purse or a fresh diaper- but I remembered my camera. I love the way the world looks through a lens. A way that perspective doesn't provide me with in the moment. Time stands still. Babies don't grow. Beauty rises to the top while hard and comparison and guilt and fear and imperfect truly fade away.

I was desperate to learn photography because Greyson was drifting away. The pictures I took of him didn't look like him. His eyes looked vacant. Some of the pictures actually scared me because I didn't even recognize the boy looking back at me. And then I found out why. And I was willing to make a pact with the devil. Please. I will do anything. There is a light in my son so bright that some people can't see it. It flashes for a second and knocks me to my knees while I am left begging for it to come stay. I needed to capture that light and say- See. It exists. It is real. 

I pulled an old DSLR Canon camera I bought Michael the Christmas before that was still in the box. I shot on the automatic setting and it wasn't good enough. I found out in order to take quick and amazing photos I needed to be shooting in the camera's manual mode. I started reading everything I could at night and practicing during the day. ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed became my new language. It was so confusing. It involved numbers and inverse relationships that I kept flipping. It was the second thing I was inherently BAD at that I wanted to KEEP doing in my life in order to get better. (Mothering was first). At first my pictures were so bad. Blurry, overexposed- but mostly they didn't make me FEEL. They didn't tell my story. I wanted my photos to tell the same story my mind saw. 

And one day Grey looked and I was quick enough to snap my shutter and I finally caught it. I was high. And I started to learn how to catch it again and again. I had to let him lead. I couldn't say sit here or look here or do this. I just had to let him be Greyson. And I kept at it until finally one day- the images in my camera started to line up with the image in my eyes.

That was three years ago now. Our life is so different. But (for today at least) it feels like it was always meant to be mine just the way it is. Life wants to be loved unconditionally and I am trying to do just that. To celebrate the things I love and to handle the things I don't love with grace. And if autism has to be present in my life, I will learn to at least be grateful for the other gifts it brings. Autism and photography changes the way I feel about everything. The way I look at everything. I am raw to everything in the world now. Suffering, pain, beauty.

And sometimes I wish my heart wasn't such a sponge, absorbing everything in it's wake. But it also helps me find beauty in everything simple. Perfect posed pictures will never tell our story. And I'm more than okay with that. I love our story. Who cares about a happy ending? I want a happy today.

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Grey made this owl at school and something about it made me cry. Maybe it was the wonky overglued right eye. Maybe it was the fact that I'm sure he had help and it took him ten times longer than the rest of the kids.

We went out front and played in the leaves. The colors were so vibrant I felt like we were in a painting.

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Let me get this leaf out brother.

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If you ever have any questions or want me to share any info on taking pictures, feel free to ask away. To get amazing pictures you must do three things:

  • Purchase a DSLR camera (I started with a Canon Rebel and a $100 50 mm lens)
  • Be willing to take a ton of crappy pictures
  • Love your life unconditionally. That love shines through in your imperfect images.

Happy Friday,



  1. I love that they are interacting more with each other than I've seen in your past pictures. And I love that you found a way to capture what you see. :-)

  2. Heart like a sponge...what a great description!

  3. So darn cute how Parker is fixing Greyson's hair, which in the previous photo, looks like he had something to do with it flying up!!!

  4. Your words take my breath away. Thank you for your beautiful, inspirational post. I look forward to each one, and am amazed and inspired by all that you have written and created. You are an artist, and a truly amazing mother. Your sons are so lucky to have you, and so are we! Thank you for your breathtaking writing and photography.

  5. I'm the same way with pictures. I see the world and relationships differently behind a lens. More clearly, IMO.

    I would love love love to have help with my camera. I have had a DSLR for years and don't use a flash but can't get out of automatic mode. As hard as I have tried and I have really really tried, I cannot understand the shutter speed and light settings. My brain just won't grasp it (numbers! Math! fear! Blocked!!) and it makes me so sad.

  6. I love love love the picture of the boys hugging. And Chrissy, even with children not on the spectrum, school projects come out a little wonky. It's a beautiful owl.

  7. That brother love - gazing at each....melts me! ~Marcy

  8. Well I just love the Owl!
    Tania in Oz

  9. beautiful post and beautiful pictures. do you still only use the 50 mm lens when you are out or do you carry multiple lenses? I'd love to take our good camera with us all the time but it seems so bulky and I end of taking just "ok" pictures with my phone or with a point and shoot that fits in my purse.