A question I am asked often is "if you're taking pictures for other families, who do you have take your family pictures?". Good question! I've tried many things. Self timer, can never get the focus right, photo shopping myself into the picture, that's just so unauthentic and setting the aperture, shutter and ISO the way I like it then handing my camera to a family member. The last option has been working out ok, but I find I am always running back and forth looking at the pictures to see if everything is right. It's just too stressful and not much fun.
This year I've been so fortunate to find a community of local professional photographers that are committed to working together in supporting each other so that we may grow and learn together. In just a few short months I have met some really awesome people! One of them is Marek Kunicki. I reached out to the community looking for someone to trade services with and I am so glad that Mark responded! I was in a bit of a hurry to have these photos taken because my dog Lily just turned 15 years old in May and I am sad to say that we don't have any family pictures with her! In fact I hardly have any good pictures of her at all! How can I be a photographer and not have any pictures of my first baby? I adopted Lily when she was just 8 weeks old. I spotted her in a pen on the side of the road in Kent Ohio. That's where the police would put stray dogs with a sign that said "adoption". She was so tiny and sweet and all alone in that big pen. I just couldn't leave her there. Lily has been with me long before I started a family of my own. When I decided to live on my own she was there, when I spent hours fumbling with my guitar she was there sitting behind me on my recliner, when I cried my eyes out struggling to find my way in this world she was there. She has always been there and now I am faced with the sad truth that she is not going to be with me much longer. She is not sick, but in the past year she has really started showing her age. Up until about a year ago Lily was a pretty feisty girl and trying to get her and 2 crazy boys to cooperate for photos was just too much anxiety for me to even think about. It's taken 15 years for her to calm down, but I hate that it's because she is almost completely deaf and too old to care. Lily was my first baby and I have tremendous guilt about the role she's taken on since my boys were born. She went from being the center of my world to being the family pet. Don't get me wrong, she has and will always be a part of our family and I don't love her any less, but when your children are born the dog that you once spoiled and let run the house becomes a little less important. She doesn't go for as many walks, she doesn't get as much snuggle time as she used to, and the walls are filled with pictures other than her. I know that sounds cruel, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't the truth. It's not a conscious thing that happens, it just happens. When Brennan was born Lily was still very much included in our lives. She took on the role as protector of Brennan. When he would nap she would lay at the top of the stairs until he woke up. She always wanted to be next to him and was constantly licking him. I don't think Lily minded this new role she had in the family because things changed on her end as well. I was once the most important person in her life, but soon Brennan became most important to her. It was something I guess we both just understood.
As I watch her grow older and more frail I try to pay more attention to her although she's not as interested now. When she is no longer with us I will be devastated. Just the thought of it can bring me to tears. She has been such an important part of my life and I can't believe that she's never been included in any family pictures until now!
A few weeks ago Marek took on the challenge of photographing my crazy little family. It was so weird for me being on the other side of the camera and someone else doing the job that I usually do! I learned how hard it really is to "pose" naturally and to process the posing directions someone else is giving you. I confirmed that my children are no different than anyone else's and no amount of ice cream bribes is going to make them cooperate for more than 1.5 seconds! Marek however seemed to do the impossible. He managed to get Brenann to smile. He tapped right into Brennan's most coveted desires. Marek told Brennan he could punch him as hard as he could if he just smiled for a few pictures. I don't condone physical violence of any kind, but I thought, "this just might work".
Brennan's eyes lit up like the Grinch's the night he stole all of the Whoville's Christmas presents. Game on Marek. Instead of a punch, before he could be stopped, Brennan pulled back his pointy cowboy boot and kicked poor Marek right in the leg! Talk about embarrassing!!! Marek took it like a champ though and in the end he got the smile.
In all seriousness Marek did a fantastic job! I absolutely LOVE the pictures he took and cannot wait to hang them as canvas on my wall. My family is not the "look at the camera and smile" kind of family and I'm so ok with that. I will cherish these pictures always!