I am going to tell you a story.
9 years ago, I picked up my dusty, old, Minolta SR-101 and grabbed a roll of black and white film, and made the long drive from Southern California up to UC Davis to visit my brand new baby niece.
Bless my sister in laws heart, she had a rough pregnancy. Her pregnancy triggered a rare autoimmune neuromuscular disease called Myasthenia Gravis that made her very weak and ill in the last trimester to the point she couldn't eat or breathe on her own. She went into labor early and gave birth to my niece, a perfectly healthy, little baby girl named, Kaelyn.
As I walked the halls of UC Davis trying to find my brother though the maze of medical wings (my neice was in one location and my sister in law in another), I almost walked right past my brother. He looked SO different. At only 21, it was as if he grew up overnight since the last time I saw him he was a boy and now he was a man. But he was! And he was also, a new dad!
I could see the worry in his eyes and the lack of sleep. We had all been worried sick and praying hard for my sister in law who's stability was one step forward, and three steps back.
We went to see my niece first. I held her and she was so small but had the thickest head of hair I had ever seen on a baby! I just remember looking at her and wondering, what are you going to be like when you grow up? I couldn't wait to see her little personality and watch her grow.
I took out my Minolta and shot that roll of film.
I remember the nurse saying, "Oh, no flash around the baby." I showed her the manual film camera and said, "It doesn't even come with a flash. It's a manual film camera." Haha!
Later that day, I went back to my hometown and developed the roll of film and with a single set of prints at the Walgreen's 1-hour photo. That was "back in the good old days" when Walgreen's developed film negatives. But, that is a story, for another day.
I was walking down the card isle when I flipped through the pictures. "They probably didn't even turn out." I said to my mom. "It's been so long since I've shot that camera."
But as I flipped through them, I looked with awe, and I fell in love. I fell in love with photography all over again. I fell in love with shooting film, especially black and white film, the grain, and each picture of my baby niece.
She was (and still is) my inspiration. I am so glad I captured that time in her life when she was so little. As I have watched her grow up, I continue to photograph her every time I see her for the most part.
My sister in law got stronger and stronger and over the years has relied less and less on drugs for her strength by God's grace by her own body. It was a long road and we never take for granted that they are both here and healthy.
Today, my niece turns 9 years old. I can't believe she is almost in the double digits already!
Here are some of those pictures. I still cherish them every time I see them. I am also reminded why I do this.
I do this to capture your story, no matter how good, or how bad, or how hard, or how different it might be than what you thought it would, this is your journey though life. This is the one chance we have and it is so important to stop, take the important moments, and lock them in time with a photograph.
My baby, my neice, Kaelyn Marie,
And here she is today...