Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May You Always Feel What You Might Not Hear

Sometimes I want to find Gunnar's batteries and pop them out. The boy moves constantly. He is motion and energy, personified. Sometimes my head spins with his questions and boy noise. I will take all the repetitive din however for the quieter moments when he is still and we are snuggled in his bed at night discussing his 4-year-old philosophies on life. I love to hear his anti-climatic stories that always make me laugh due to their ridiculous nature. I love his childish banter and innocent reflections on the day's occurances. I love to hear him say, "Mom, what do you want to talk about?" AND I would endure days of interminable boy sounds for the three words I never tire of hearing, "I Love You!"

My heart aches when I consider parents who never have that tender moment with their children.

I have a friend named Josie.

We met at a party and I knew immediately I was going to really, really like her; I have been interested in her and her story since that evening. When Laurie, her mom, contacted me for a session, I couldn't stop smiling. I was so enthused to be able to see her again and spend a little bit of time with her great family. I feel honored when any family chooses me to immortalize their moments through portraiture, but I felt especially humbled to be able to formally photograph Josie, her new sister, Jocelyn, and her parents Laurie and Eric.

Josie has Rett Syndrome, a childhood neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by normal early developments but then is followed by distinctive hand movements, slowed brain and head growth, gait abnormalities, seizures, and mental retardation. It affects females almost exclusively. 

As the syndrome progresses, the child loses purposeful use of her hands and the ability to speak. I want to know what Larkin is thinking all the time. I look forward to the day she will finally be able to tell me. Laurie and Eric, Josie's parents, look forward to the day too. Hopefully there will be a break-through with studies, and her voice and thoughts will come soon. They have found ways however of understanding her cues, sounds, and facial expressions, and like any mother Laurie, knows her daughter. They are indescribably connected to one another.

I think if she had the words she would be really funny. There were so many moments when she got so excited about something; her eyes lit up, her hands shook; I chuckled because I could tell she was trying to say something that would make us all smile and laugh with her. 

Eric has a very special relationship with her; she was all smiles for him.

Jojo (as her Daddy calls her), has got personality alright! At one point she decided she needed a rest. So she laid down on the concrete, and I decided to lie down with her and rest a bit too.

I think she is beautiful:

Josie has a little sis named Jocelyn. (Josephine and Jocelyn. I loved that!)  It was sweet to see the two of them interacting together, like regular siblings do. I really liked the interaction with them here:

I wanted to squeeze Jocelyn. She reminds me of another baby I know! I love squishy babies!!

She didn't want to be too far from her mom, but I couldn't help holding her for a second. That's about all I got: one second. She made me want to run home and hold my squishy baby! ;)

Their dynamic as they grow will be interesting, but I am sure they will always know the other is someone special in her life.

I loved the colors in these family shots. So earthy, natural, and comfortable. A true reflection of this family.

Loved the light and angle in this one:

and the color in this one:

I am fascinated by Laurie and her capabilities. Before Josie's diagnosis Laurie was a school teacher. Once they discovered how extensive her care would be she decided to leave the classroom to be home with her baby. Each day, Laurie's life is filled with labors of love for her children. Being a parent of any child is tasking; I am sure that being a parent of a child with special needs is even more daunting, especially when the rewards aren't as frequent. I was so interested in Laurie and the endurance she musters each day to tend to the needs of her little ladies.

Laurie deserves much praise and attention for the selfless sacrifices she offers on behalf of her girls. I would love for her to see herself as I do: as a strong, brave, understanding, compassionate, and tender woman. 

Loved the framing:

Someone needs to write an article on this mother, on all the mothers with children with disabilities, revering them for all the efforts they make on a daily basis. I want to write that article. Mostly because that would require talking to Laurie more, and I would really enjoy asking her more questions and learning more about how she handles the daily requirements while still remaining so positive and energetic.

I love the way the wind caught her hair:

and I loved this expression:

Eric is a good man. He mentioned to me several times how he does the best he can to get home early to help take care of the girls and to offer a hand to Laurie.

He told me pictures aren't his thing, but I am so glad he humored me:

One of the two of them together. Eric has a way of making all his girls smile:

Josie, Jocelyn, Laurie, and Eric,
Thank you for the time together; it was so nice seeing you again. Thank you for choosing me and for humoring my many questions. May the closeness you are required to have always feel like a blessing to your family. May the moments of silence be filled with powerful sentiments and emotions that only whisper to the heart. May you always feel that which you might not ever hear, that she loves you so very, very much!! May you always love being together and may you know that others admire your courage and bravery!!

Thanks again so much for touching my heart, Kam

p.s. Laurie, Happy Mother's Day! You deserve a great one! May it be filled with smiles and love and maybe even a nap!! ;)


Bethany said...


What an amazing family and an amazing story. As always, you have done such a great job of capturing their spirits and telling their story.

Fabulous job Kamee.

Amy said...

Unbelievably touching (wiping a tear).

The Grainger Family said...

Beautiful pictures, Kam, but they also made your job easy. The windows to their souls were wide open in those sweet little eyes. Beautiful sisters and parents!

Jean Smith Photography said...

oh my goodness...thanks for sharing josie with us...along with her super adorable family! these pictures are fantastic...fun, bright, and beautifully candid and emotional.

thanks for stopping by my blog...love your stuff!

Coleen said...


Sarah Castor said...

What a truly beautiful family! Inside and out! I would love to meet them! You have been blessed I can tell by spending the time with them.

mozeewozee said...

All of the photos were beautiful! Such a lovely family. That baby's CHEEKS....love 'em! Josie is darling and her hair color is stunningly beautiful. Your job must be so fun!

The Barrick Times said...

Those spiral-y red curls are just beautiful! Nicely done!

Jen Fields said...

Kamee, this post brought tears to my eyes. The pictures are beautiful and capture the sweetness of the family. What a beautiful family.

And...that 50mm lens of yours has such a yummy bokeh.

MichBilyeu said...

This post is beautiful and so inspiring! I love the looks that both Mom and Dad give to their daughters and I love Josie's vibrant red hair! :)
I nanny for a family with a special needs girl. She can't speak either and it is really special to watch her parents and sisters interact with her. They have their own form of communication that allows them to know each others needs.
This post really made me realize that the parents I work for are heroes, just like Eric and Laurie. :)

Kimberly said...


I am back among the living and I want you to know how much I love the fact that your pictures reflect LIFE! Such a great shoot. Gorgeous little girls. I think that Josie would be a heroine type...Anne of Green Gables maybe...full of spunk. I always appreciate the love between couples that are a reminder of hope and goodness. =)