Michelle and Angus' property was something I always dreamed of - falling into the 'some day' category. Green space everywhere and lush gardens. Lots of room for the kids to run around. And a huge old tree to shade us from the sun during our hot summer days here in the north. Set upon a hill, their neighbours a paddock away to each side, the tranquility is deafening. The best kind.
Michelle reached out to me when she wanted to update their family photos. They hadn't been professionally photographed together as a family since their three children were small, their youngest was just a toddler. Their eldest now in his final year of high school with the younger two following just a couple of years apart. Time passes so quickly.
As Michelle walked me through the hallways where those framed prints from over a decade ago still hang, I felt a pang of such deep truth in what I do. Mixed with sadness. This is it - our lives. Moving and changing everyday, in the smallest and biggest ways. So many years had passed - her children staring back at me from the walls; chubby cheeks and the perfect extra arm rolls, all their tiny little baby teeth on show in big, carefree smiles. And now - they are all tall and lean, perfectly self conscious teenagers, their blonde hair turned dark, and Michelle is barely hanging on to the title of not-quite-the-shortest-in-the-family.
Michelle had told me she wanted to have photos done so many times as the kids were growing. It was always on her to-do list. And suddenly, ten years had passed. And that's life. That's what happens. Of course they have photos of those years in between, but as with most families, the majority would be with just the kids, or just dad and the kids, or maybe a few times a year, mum makes it into the frame. But rarely all together. And we're are all guilty of that.
Every time I'm asked to photograph a family - together - I feel like their story gets a new chapter. Written and frozen - forever. Michelle will remember everything about this time in their lives when she looks back on these photos. All the love and heartbreak. How she fit perfectly under her youngest son's shoulder. How her daughter was *almost* taller than her. How her eldest boy had made it all the way through his schooling journey that seemed such a long, long road, ironically not that long ago. And how, after all these years, she still looks at Angus the same way.