Beautiful mess.

     I have the bad habit of liking everything to be "perfect."

     This is a comical thought with a two year old. I can't tell you how many times I've bought the perfect outfit, fixed her hair, and taken her to the most amazing location in hopes for that perfect photo. I've tried and tried. I've bought matching bows, only to have her rip them out before the first shutter click; I've bought patent leather shoes that were dirty before we reached the photo location.

      I can honestly tell you right now, I've given up.

     I've given up my misconceptions on what a photo is "supposed" to look like. Perfectly crisp, eyes looking right into the lens, amazingly exposed skies, (oh, the dreaded blown out skies! NO!) and composition that draws the viewer in, allowing them to ponder over the photo before moving onto the next.  I've given up wanting my kid to be "clean"... free of peanut butter, yogurt, and dried spaghetti (the only three foods she will eat.) I've given up thinking that to be an amazing photographer, I have to be "right." Follow the rules. Do what they say. Be perfect.

     Great exposure, crisp images, and rules are great. For some.

     For a lifestyle photographer that lives in the real world, not so much.

I took this photo of my daughter while camping on North Shore in Oahu, and to this day, it's the most accurate representation of childhood I've ever captured.
     The photo was taken immediately after Kenna climbed out of the tent and declared, "I want oatmeal. I'm hungry." (Shocker! The kid eats four packs of oatmeal a day.) I begged and begged Logan to help me take a photo of her, full frame, looking and smiling at the camera. I got nothing. No smiles, just blank stares, as if she was saying, "Mom, really? This early? Come on." -- which is the same reaction my husband often gives to my camera. Logan tried redirecting her, we offered bribes and snacks, fun activities- everything. And still, I got nothing. The one smile she did give me, the camera was off center- only capturing half of her face (in the image above.) I hung my head, disappointed as usual. (Why can I always capture great images of other children, not my own?!)
     When I got home and uploaded my photos, they were some of my favorite Kenna shots ever. So raw, so real.

                           How many times in life have we not taken the shot because things weren't "perfect?" Too messy, too complicated, too scary. I often don't take my camera with me if I don't anticipate that there will be a special moment- or if Kenna doesn't have a matching outfit on and her hair hasn't been fixed.

The fact of life is: Beauty happens even when our hair isn't brushed. When it's sunscreen-matted and sandy and sweaty like Kenna's above. Do we capture the moment for what it is, or skip it because it's not ideal? Do we miss out on life because we want it to be "more beautiful" or do we take it for what it is, learning to see the beauty in everything?