I see you squirm. Hear me out.
My family and I went in front of Justine Curran‘s lens last July. The reasons why I chose Justine are the same reasons that I believe we should all go in front of the camera for. What do I see in the pictures that we have received? How did the shoot actually happen? What did we do? How did we behave? What are the results like? Simple: everything goes back to the reasons why I contacted Justine in the first place. I wanted her to focus on moments, on our 9 years of marriage with my husband and what that looks like: the partnership, the teamwork. I wanted her to focus on the relationships my two girls have, and the personalities they are developing. I wanted our surroundings, our experience of Australia for our first time there. I wanted movement, light, life, laughs and tears if they may be, cuddles and details of our unique gestures…I wanted her to follow us and just click. I wanted her to observe and let us be a family, as we are, and live life just as it is. And she did just that, we did just that, and the photos show just that. What I see when look at these pictures is not that my wrinkles have gone deeper, is what moves me in the photos Justine has taken.
What moves me is to look at them, and remember the smell of the sea and the hot coffee, the coldness of the water and the slippery algae. What moves me is the sound of my daughter’s laughter when she is running along the beach with me, trying not to fall. What moves me is my husband drying my little one’s little cold body after a swim. What moves me is that we could just stand there with my husband watching the girls playing, drinking a hot coffee and just feeling content. What moves me is that this is us, and no one else. This is us and our memories that we built together. Equally, if the shoot had been in our home, the same things would matter. Our habits, our own quirks, our living room, our light, our ways, our love. In pyjamas even.
All that is not going to fade away, and to me this goes way beyond the prerequisite standard of beauty attached to the words “image” or “self-image” that scares us, that stops us sometimes and that we should let go of, once and for all. Because dammit. Who says our not-magazine-perfect home should not be photographed? Who says our butt is too wide and our boobs not big enough, and our hair is too grey, and our wrinkles too deep? Who says our chaos is not beautiful, and our everyday life not worthy of everlasting memories on paper?
So when you decide to come to me for a shoot, all I ask is a little openness, just open that door, come meet me in the middle of the bridge. I even have a little questionnaire to help you do that. Allow yourself to tell me your story with the smells and the touches and the sights that you don’t want to fade, give me a little chaos, a little silliness, a bed not done, half eaten cakes, dirty diapers, whatever it is that matters to you now, the memories you won’t want to forget, before the blur sets in. By doing that, you will free yourself of everything else that might stop you from being in front of the camera with your loved ones.
I have thanked her many times, but I will do it again: Justine, a million times thank you for seeing us just how we are. Hangry but fun loving and cute Sayan, wise and exploring and beautiful Leila, and us James and I a solid team of two people who love each other, all these 9 years of us.