Back to WPPI my first day. After my life jarring moments with Jesh de Rox, I scurried (I’m sure that’s the most accurate word to describe my movements) with all of my luggage to my hotel to check in. I registered, got my room assignment and key, and went off for the search. Once I found my room, I threw my stuff on the bed, used the bathroom, (too much information?), and was out the door again. It was about 11:30am, and I had a breakfast shake at 4:30am, so I was STARVING. I found McDonald’s (see, Nate–I promised), and got my food. I am not one who really needs to eat with people. And my room was just too far away.
TANGENT: I discovered that being by myself can be therapeutic, and began doing it in high school. I’m sure more on my crazy high school days later, but my senior year I didn’t have a TON of friends. I had a few friends in many different social circles, and just hung out with whichever circle I felt like at different times. And sometimes I felt like not hanging out with any of them. So sometimes I would go to Taco Bell, and didn’t want to go through the drive through just to park in the back of some random parking lot to eat by myself; so I would go inside. And ENJOYED it. I also would go to the mall by myself. I found I could go into any store I wanted, stay as long as I wanted, and try on as many things as I wanted. Liberating. I also found that I spent more money that way, because I had to ask the sales associate for an opinion on how I looked. And amazingly, they always thought I looked good. : )
BACK ON TRACK: Anyway, so I was sitting in a general food court area of the casino, scarfing down my food. Probably looking completely disgusting. I saw people looking at me. I get extra sauce–always. It was messy, I was eating way too fast, and I did look disgusting. I accept that. And things normally would have been just fine, but I had just finished my EXPERIENCE with Jesh. And my self was spinning around, totally off kilter. Tears were coming off and on for no explainable reason.
The first thing I saw: A mother was standing in line with her three children. Two boys. One was probably 5, and the other around 8. The mother was looking at the menu, deciding what to get. I have no idea what was going on with those boys, but I saw midway through some sort of argument. (And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there wasn’t even an argument to begin with.) But I saw the older boy bending the hand back of the smaller one to the point of pain. The boy stopped what he was doing when he saw his brother start to whimper, and of course, his mother look. The little boy just buried his head into the leg of his mom. She put her hand on the back of his head, gave “the look” to the older boy, and continued reading the menu. This was obviously normal. (This was normal in my family, too. I’m not trying to condemn anyone.) But I started tearing up. I couldn’t help it. Seeing this little boy. Completely humbled. Complete stripped down. No pride or happiness to speak of. He wasn’t necessarily going to his mom for comfort, but to hide his face. Because he knew that he wasn’t supposed to be crying in public, but he couldn’t help it. His own brother had done this unspeakable hurt to him. And in that moment, it was disgusting. I just wanted to go up to that little boy and give him the attention that no one else was giving him. He deserved it. I wanted to give him a hug, get down on his level and look into his eyes and say, “YOU MATTER! You are beautiful!” (And I would probably use the word “handsome”, so that he didn’t feel like a pansy.)
What a raw emotion. Children have raw emotions like that. And they are beautiful. Even the pain and embarrassment this little boy was feeling was beautiful. Because it was real. And it had the capability of changing a life. My life. I think that is why I love photographing them. Because their faces and body language holds nothing back. They can’t. And I love that.
The second thing I saw: Obviously where I was sitting was facing the McDonald’s ordering and pick-up lines. Again, a mother with three children. One girl was older, I would say 15. The other two children, a boy and a girl, were both around 4 and 5. I wasn’t paying attention until I heard the teenager yell to her mom. I was probably trying to compose myself from the last episode. But the girl yelled, “Mom! No! Come back here!” I looked up and saw the mother walking quickly, but aimlessly, past me in a random direction with a drink in her hand. The teenager, obviously (but sadly) the acting mother, firmly told the two younger children to stay where they were. She ran after her mom. The children stood, backs up against the wall, right in front of the pick-up area. ALONE! People took notice of this. Pain filled the onlooker’s faces. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the children looked used to this. Standing in a random place by themselves, with lots of strangers around. Just waiting. For their mom. Who wasn’t there. I was so consumed by this scene that I turned to look at the mother and daughter. Unashamed, I had to watch this play out. I didn’t hear what was said, but the mother quickly walked passed me again. Then the daughter, who was holding the drink. Just then their number was called and they picked up their food. The teenage daughter leaned up against the wall, and chuckled. An obvious defensive chuckle. An “I’m hurting, but I want everyone to think this is all okay” kind of chuckle. I wanted those children. Like, I WANTED them. To be mine. To be safe. Warm. Loved. Again tears started to fill my eyes. I put my head down, abnormally close to my hamburger. Trying to hide the tears. Trying to hide the pain that wasn’t really mine. The pain I shared with those children in those moments.
And what I learned: First, what a BLESSING children are. How real they are. How wise. They don’t even have to say anything, and they can teach us, intelligent, educated, authority-filled adults, a thing or two. Or 20. Or 100. These experiences also taught me how much of a photographer I truly am. Or at least I truly am becoming. Because after these initial moments of wanting to squeeze up all these children and put them in my purse, I wanted to PHOTOGRAPH them. Seriously? Yes. Because these experiences that I had can be shared. Through a photograph. So that us as adults, can reconnect with what it is to be a child. How real it actually is. How hard it actually can be. And then us as adults can maybe help them. Or love them. Maybe even love our own a little more.
The first thing I have to say is–What a cute little boy! He was so funny, so smiley, and had some of the funniest little quirks. Like, walking like a baby bird, or loving to knock on doors, or growl. (Yes, growl.) I know. Too cute. And, of course, he had to bonk his eye on something the day of the shoot. (I think kids just know that they are going to be getting their pictures taken, which makes a bruise or scratch a prerequisite.)
Okay, FAVE #1:
And FAVE #3: I know, I know. I broke my own rules. I was trying for just one favorite per shoot. But it was just not happening for me. Little do you know that by the time we got to mommy and son pictures, he was DONE! He had been such a good sport for so long, but was not interested in posing for any more pictures. And this is where I got these truly candid moments.
It was so fun to photograph this little family! Little E. wasn’t so sure about getting his pictures taken, but he had me laughing the whole time. He has a HUGE personality! And he isn’t going to do anything he doesn’t want to do. As it should be, I suppose.
This is his little personality at work:
My FAVE image! And when I say “fave”, I mean, I am totally, completely, and irrevocably in love with it.
I met this family at another friend’s birthday party. They had a couple little boys running around, and another little boy, only 5 weeks old, sleeping in his car seat. So it was fun to be able to meet up again and really get to know the entire family!
When we started out, I tried to introduce myself to the two boys, but they would have none of it. They were so shy just hiding behind mom and dad. I posed the family, put the camera up to my eye, and looked through the lens. I didn’t even take a picture. It was time we played a game. After only a few minutes of racing between trees, and finding out they were fast, and I was slow, I had two new best friends. And I dare say we had a BLAST!
So here are a few images from our hang-out/photography session:
My first class at WPPI was by Jesh de Rox. And all I can say is “Woah.” He has realized a whole new way to photograph. And I was blessed enough to hear it.
He looks at photography as an EXPERIENCE. A good experience. A great experience. A LIFE CHANGING experience. (Even for the poor, unsuspecting man.) It’s not a series of posing and mimicking. His photography sessions are seen as a way to increase love, to protect love, and to cherish love. Even a form of therapy! (I know I sound crazy. But please trust me. I’m not.) I left there off balance when I went in thinking I was balanced. He said that for clients to share their most precious moments with us, as the photographer, we must first share with them. Not lies. Not fake smiles. But the truth.
And that’s when I realized. What I am currently sharing with my clients is at arm’s length. Full of small little lies and fake smiles. If you were to read my blog you would see a person who is pretty much perfect. Always happy, always organized, and on top of everything. Very professional, sure. But I am not in any regular business. Photography isn’t a series of signed contracts and 8 X10’s. It is people’s lives. It is memories. That I am lucky enough to capture. And what I really want to capture is THEM. YOU! And how do I expect you, a stranger to me, to open up your soul and show me what is most precious to you? The love you have for your family? It’s not when I show you my best, cheesy smile, and then a quick glance at my watch to see what time it is. (Not that I ever do that.) I want to be real with you, so in turn, you can be real with me. I understand that I may have to take the first step.
So here is my first step.
WPPI was an adventure. I thought it would be, but I didn’t realize what an impact it would have on me. My world has been turned upside down. Not just my photography world, or my business world, but my WORLD.
I traveled there alone. Nate was in Florida on business, the kids were at my mom’s house. I figured out the airports by myself. (Not like I’ve never been to them before, but I still got turned around.) And if anyone has been to Vegas, it is VERY easy to get disoriented. These casinos are HUGE. And go in every direction. And every direction looks strikingly similar. I woke up at 3:30 Monday morning. I didn’t need to wake up until 4:00, but I was too excited to leave, and I was too distracted by staring at my beautiful daughter who was sharing a bed with me. My flight got in at 7:00am, and my first class started at 8:00am. I grabbed my bags, found a taxi, and told him where I needed to go. I wasn’t going to be able to check in until after my first class, so I had to drag my bags around for a couple hours. Oh, by the way, the MGM Grand is huge, and I was dropped off at the wrong end. I was speed walking in the direction of the conference center. And after walking for about a mile (I wouldn’t doubt it), I got registered and was off to find my class. I asked someone for directions, he quickly gave them to me, I had no idea what he said, and I was off on my way. I followed a huge crowd. And after going up three stories, I found out it was the wrong crowd. So I turned around, and went back down. I had the idea that I wanted to call my husband. Have him tell me where to go. But it wasn’t an option. How the heck would he know? I found someone else that was headed in the direction that I was going in, so we stuck together. (“We“, really meaning I desperately tagged along.) After my class with Jesh, I was off to check in to my hotel. Up an escalator, down an escalator. *Walk, walk, walk.* Up an escalator, down an escalator. *Walk, walk, walk.* Up an escalator, down an escalator. (Not kidding.) *Walk, walk, walk.* I was starving. I was tired. And I was in some serious pain from lugging around all my junk. I was TRYING to follow the signs to registration, but still seemed to get lost. I so desperately wanted my husband. I lean on him. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that’s a bad thing. Probably both. Normally I just hold his hand and we go. I like that. But today I was on my own. Forced independence.
After my two hour class with Jesh de Rox, I was in tears, as were many others. But before I left, I thought, “I want to be like him.” I wanted to be quiet, confident, pensive. I wanted to have a dry sense of humor like he had.
My last class of the day was with Jasmine Star. She was spunky. A definite California girl. The daughter of a preacher, and she acted like it! Before the class was over, she had everyone shouting out “Amen”, “Word”, and “Truff” (for “truth”). And I thought, “Maybe I should be like that.” Loud, outgoing, hilarious, and confident.
And then I realized. I need to have confidence. In myself. Not confidence in Jesh or Jasmine, or even my husband Nate. I don’t have to be quiet and pensive like Jesh. Or loud and spunky like Jasmine. I CAN‘T. I need–NEED–to be me. But…what does that mean?
So one thing that I have learned from CRAZY WPPI is that I need to find out who I am. More than just holding a hand, walking around blindly. For my BUSINESS. For my ART. For ME. I need to figure out Kalli.
So there you have it. The truth. I don’t always have it all together. I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t even get dressed some days. (Pajamas are soo comfortable, though!) The truth is so stunning! The truth, Jesh said, was not that he has discovered beauty through his photographs, but that he is able to capture what is already there. So my goal is to be more real with myself, and more real with you. And in the process, I dare to say, I think we will get some pretty awesome pictures. Because when I can be me, you can be you. And what a blessing, and an art, that will be to capture.