Nine years ago today, Joseph James Mountjoy married me on a misty mountain morning. We gave our friends and family only 7 weeks notice but still had about 150 guests brave the ridiculously long and muddy drive into the middle of the Evergreen forest to share in our ceremony of love and commitment to each other and to our families. There were piles of pearls, tears, root beer floats, a costume box and rain. It was a magical day. I am honored to be loved by so many and thankful that they shared in the experience with us. And I am indebted to Julie Harris for photographing our wedding so that I may treasure these images for the rest of our life. My mother spotted my pearl necklace in a Flea Market and shared the pearl earrings she wore at her own wedding. The beautiful flower head piece was discovered in my great grandmother’s sewing box and I had been treasuring it for many years, unsure of what I would find to do with it. This is my gorgeous mother and my handsome step-father watching me come down the rainy aisle. I could not consider getting married inside and the rain let up just a bit for our ceremony so it was perfect- at least for me! If you know me at all, you know my dog, Obadiah would be present at our wedding. That was a non-negotiable when looking for our venue. We rented a private home for the weekend so Obadiah basically just did his thing the whole time and popped in to observe a bit of the ceremony, to the amusement of all. What a gorgeous lot!! This is one of my favorite images of all time- all of our siblings (minus two of my beloved brothers, one of whom passed away many years ago and the other was stationed in Iraq.) My best friend and I brainstormed a super fun plan: costume box in place of a guest signing book! We had SO many fun photos of everyone, including this one of Jay and his brothers! My wonderful mommy cut all the flowers for our wedding from her exquisite garden. AND she made our little wedding carrot cake! I just wanted one for Jay and I to share and then we had a whole table of desserts for everyone else! Jay’s gift to his groomsmen were handmade replicas of famous warriors’ swords and letters to each explaining why he thought they were similar to the warrior he picked for them. My dear friend Chara shot this image as we were leaving and it is a treasure.
And we are living happily ever after!
She was visiting my mother from California who brought her friend in for a portrait session as a gift. As a way of giving Diana a bit of her True Self back. I didn’t know that at the time but that seems to be the way it worked out. Diana let some of her guard down and that came right through into the images.
It wasn’t until I started emailing with Diana after the shoot that I realized what had been created with these images. I had been intentional about capturing what I felt from her- the bright and strong Diana who was shining through the sad and uncertain Diana. And isn’t that the way it is? The light in us shining through the cracks of what is heartbroken, smeared and doubtful? So many voices (that sound like my own) that whisper, “I am not enough.” Mean. Crippling. But it is much easier to tell the voices “no” when we get a glimmer of the True self that is shining through. Photography can be a gift- a way of giving people a glimpse of their true, most perfect self. Diana’s email to me after seeing her photos will be something I will treasure always. With her permission I am sharing a bit of it:
“In most of the pictures I’ve ever seen of myself (even the “pretty” ones), I think I look fat, tired, staid, static. In the images you took, I see such strength and fun, such enjoyment of life, such depth of affection. I don’t look sick. I don’t look old. There is a liveliness that I just love, and a kind of, um, energy? Eagerness? Maybe this: a genuine readiness for whatever may come. Maybe that’s it. The picture I have of myself in my head says “I’m done. I’m spent.” The pictures you took, especially the sequence in the chair, say “Bring it on!” I’ve been through a really brutal year. Devastating, really. But I am starting to feel the stirrings of a brand new Spring. I’ve been vaguely aware of it, but it’s been just a notion, just a bunch of hazy hopes and half-hearted wishing. Then you took these pictures and I can see it, sharp and clear. There can be no doubt. Something has changed. Thank you, Regina.”
Do you have an image of yourself that you love? Is there a photographer you admire that could create it for you? It might change everything.
Meeting little Asher was something very special for me. His parents have been our friends for several years. We started out as kid-free married couples, long conversations after homemade meals, late night dinners in our favorite Denver restaurants. I observed and listened to Kendra process her plan for a family, start lining things up in their life to make the time and space, and then, the BIG NEWS. She was pregnant!
We helped them pack up their house and move into their new one. We brought them dinner the night she went into labor. One week later we met Asher. It is still surreal for me to meet the new child of a good friend. To see a little person that is a combination of two people I love and at the same time a brand new entity. To be in relationship with someone when they are “footloose and fancy free,” walk alongside them as they plan a family, get pregnant, BE pregnant, give birth to a new human being and into their own parenthood. The transition is fascinating. And I will admit that this one is bittersweet.
People ask me all the time, of course, if we have children. No, we don’t. Why not? Well, that wasn’t my original plan. It’s not something I really care to lay out and I’m still navigating the path to peace about it all. The part that is the most difficult for me in the process is feeling left out. Left out of motherhood. Left out of playgroups. Left out of the heart-bonding stories where women sigh that deep commonality. “I know what you mean… We’re in this together… I’m so glad someone else understands… I’m not alone.” The deep-heart smile of recognition. I love listening to people’s stories. I can talk with mothers all day long about child birth, their baby’s digestive system, their overwhelms, their triumphs, their fears, their plans for the nursery and education. Only very occasionally does something sting. Unexpectedly but not surprisingly. Like acupuncture.
I don’t wake up feeling like there is something missing from my life. My life is positively luxurious, spacious, peaceful and sorted. But it doesn’t change the fact that I miss my friend, Kendra. I miss all my dear friends who are now absorbed into parenthood, as they should be. It requires your all. Why do I still photograph babies if there is a chance it will sting? Because I love freezing a fraction of time, to photograph the perfection that is this new mutually adoring relationship: mother and son. It is a gift for my friends, for my clients and, honestly, for myself. It keeps my heart connected, pulsing hot blood through my veins. It is my mechanism for staying engaged, present and open. And so are these words. My heart on a blog.