I got my first Digital SLR camera 10 years ago, just a few months after our first child was born. I didn’t know such happiness existed until I became a mother. The reality of impermanence became strikingly evident as I watched my child change before my eyes. The happiness I felt seemed urgent. I wanted to capture every moment with my family on camera. Each moment was fleeting, and photography allowed me, in a small way, to defy impermanence by capturing a piece of happiness to enjoy again in the future.
I began photographing anything and everything—a moth, blades of grass, the hair on my child’s head, rain clouds, tires, toothbrushes, anything really. The more photos I took, it became increasingly evident I had been taking photos long before I had a camera in my hand. The camera was just an extension of my mind—memories filed away to be recalled at my beckoning. But even more than that, the camera was an extension of my love. It was a piece of technology that allowed the expression of my love to persist after my finger left the shutter.
I have photographed people, events, and scenes all over the world, but my favorite is photographing people I love. There is something deeply intimate about capturing a person’s portrait. I love photographing my children. I love capturing their moments of authentic expressions—the laughter, tears, struggle, joy, excitement, and wonder. When I press the shutter, it feels as though I’m saying, “I love you. Let me hold this moment a little longer.”
One of my greatest fears is losing my mind—to be filled with memories, information, and knowledge, but with an inability to recall—like an SD card your computer won’t recognize. I suppose it’s one reason I’ve been such an avid journal keeper. Even when recalled, memories are unreliable. They change. They get hazy. They can even be invented or swiped clean. The stories we tell ourselves create the reality of our existence. This realization calls into question the narratives we cling to when perspective becomes reality. What is reality when thought motivates tangible manifestations? I can’t say for certain what reality is, but it feels real. Love feels real. Even after a loved one dies, the love we have for them stays with us. It still feels real. I never want to forget my loves, or being in love, even though love is accompanied with pain and suffering. Impermanence tends to leave a necessary sting.
Love brings me hope. If there is any meaning to be found in such a fleeting existence, I imagine it is to be found in love. If I can capture a fraction of that love on camera, even if only for a brief moment, maybe there’s a flicker of hope for the existence of eternal love. Maybe, just maybe, our technologies can help us create an existence where love doesn’t have to end.