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day 76: say "cheese!"

April 18, 2011

If you’ve read much of “a gift a day,” you’ve noticed its decided lack of personal photographs.  This flies in the face of conventional blogging wisdom, I gather, as every bit of blogging advice I’ve read since beginning this project encourages sharing lots of photos for visual interest.

I am all for visual interest, and I love beautiful photographs.  Still, I’m reluctant to pair personal musings with photographs of my family (I believe in the kindness of the world, but I’ve spent my entire professional career listening to inhumanities visited upon children — in this instance, safe wins over sorry).  I’m just not interested in sharing my children’s images in the public domain.  As for me?  Since most of you know me already, I assume you don’t need the compass of a photo to find me.

While I don’t wish to share pictures of my children here, I do love having professional photos taken of them.  I’ve tried valiantly to capture my kids’ adorability on my digital camera, and what usually results is a hazy white blob with half its head cut off (I suppose I wouldn’t object to sharing one of those photos, as they render my kids totally unidentifiable).  Having tried and failed for years to take good photographs, I applaud those who can.

One such example is artist Abigail Blosser.  I met Abigail nearly five years ago, when our children were in a “playgroup” together (not much playing occurred in this group, as it was comprised of three month-old infants).  I would later learn that she is a fine arts photographer whose work has been exhibited all over the country, and that she teaches classes at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, but at the time I just enjoyed her mellow company.  In the years since, I have come to know and love her thoughtful, beautiful work.

On Day 76, we loaded the children up for an afternoon mini-session of photos with Abigail.  It was an uncannily perfect spring day, and we headed for Sarah P. Duke Gardens to be photographed among the flowers.

My two year-old, who has shunned naps for months, fell asleep in the car on the way to the gardens.  He is a slow-to-wake kind of kid.  This did not bode well for a series of playful, adorable photographs.

True to form, my toddler wouldn’t let go of my leg for the first five minutes we spent with Abigail.  Lower lip shoved out, he snubbed her camera and buried his face in my lap.  Fortunately, Abigail also has a two year-old, and her experience as a mother of two affords her a unique ability to connect.  Gentle and relaxed in demeanor, she waited for my boys to warm up.  In minutes, she’d transformed my sullen toddler into a giggling monkey.  Giving directions from behind the camera in kid-speak (“scootch closer to brother…  Daddy’s going to hold that silver thing up high to cover the sun… throw that leaf like a helicopter…”), she put all of us at ease.  While I haven’t seen these photos yet, I just know they will be beautiful.   For examples of her work, check out Abigail’s website here.

I thought my Day 76 gift would merely be the photographs, which we plan to give to undisclosed recipients (surprise!) in the near future.  However, our experience with Abigail inspired a second gift.  When she said goodbye yesterday, she also said, “Thank you so much for supporting my small business.”  I thought of the countless times I’ve failed to document my appreciation of excellent work, and I realized that one very small way I could support Abigail was by writing her a note of appreciation.  Regardless of how the pictures emerge — and I’m confident that they will be wonderful — I want to recognize her talent.

I hope your Monday overflows with gifts.  Thank you, always, for showing up.

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