This past month I had the privilege of photographing a handsome young man for his Senior pictures and a beautiful family. What started out as a Senior photo shoot, turned into much more on that sunny afternoon.
As I was taking pictures, I was listening to his Mother talk about how proud she was of her son and all that he has accomplished and how far he has come, and a story started forming in my head that I knew I wanted to portray in my pictures. So in between telling the story of a little boy who had become a bright young man, I decided to also tell the story of the family who helped him get to where he is today.
You see, this young man isn’t any ordinary young man – he has what we know as Autism. Believe me, if you met him you would not know this at first, he seems like any normal High School Senior – laughing, joking, talking about school and things that he likes – how cool his dog Riley was (and protective – I witnessed this when they tried to part the two of them), jokingly teasing his little sister, and about things in life in general. But unlike any other young man his age dealing with school, and friends, and girls, and life as a teenager – he also had an extra challenge in life to deal with and from what I saw – he was doing quite well!
While taking pictures, I listened as his Mother casually talked about how it was raising him and how the system worked against them at times, and her love for him, and concern for him at times, and how she kept so strong through it all. It was through these casual conversations that I realized there was more to this story I needed to tell. It wasn’t just about a Senior graduating High School, but about a family that worked together and loved, cried, and laughed together, and in the end helped this handsome young man to be the bright and productive young man that he has become. So, I found myself wanting to tell that story and started snapping pictures of not only the young man, but also his sister, his beloved dog and friend, Riley, his Mother and Father, and at the end a final picture rounding out shoot of the whole family. Now even though nobody was “prepared for pictures” as the Mom would say – it was about their son after all – I was able to convince them to take a few quick family pictures. I was able to find a large rock under a tall tree at the end of our path and talked them into climbing – carefully of course – to the top. With the sun descending in the background behind the trees – it was what I thought as a perfect ending to a beautiful day. I really thank the family for letting me into their lives and telling a bit of their story in the only way I know how – through the lens of my camera.