The ponytail is making a comeback in our house. I have to admit that I love the way our daughter’s ponytail swirls and bounces as she plays. I also have to admit that I’m surprised how seeing my daughter in her ponytail can bring me back to my days–years, actually–as a gymnast (in a ponytail, of course).
My memories of being a gymnast are so powerful; I can still feel the thrill of swinging on the bars, releasing my hands, and catching the bar again a moment later; I can feel the extension of my legs and toes as I leap across the beam; I can hear my hands and feet pounding on the spring floor, as I tumble my way through my floor routine and feel the power in my body as I flip through the air. To this day, I still remember my bar and floor routines (I even hear the music for the floor routine in my head).
As an adult, I experience gymnastics in a different way, as an observer. I enjoy watching gymnastics, no matter what the skill level. I delight when kids work for and accomplish a new skill, discover their own strength, and find the confidence in themselves to try something new. Most of all, I love watching children having FUN with gymnastics.
In my memories, the gymnast in me can still feel her power, strength, confidence, joy, and grace. Now, these qualities present themselves in different aspects of my life, mostly through being a mom and a photographer. My hope for our girls is that they discover and keep their own power, strength, confidence, and joy through doing the activities and sports that they truly love. As always, keep following your hearts and dreams, girls.
I loved being a gymnast; I’m still a gymnast at heart!
Today, I came across a box of photos from 1996-1997, which I haven’t opened in some time. These were important years in my photographic journey as it was during these years that I fell in love with black and white photography. My Canon AE-1 camera was by my side just about everywhere I went; I learned to take photos from different perspectives; I often stayed up through the night until sunrise, just so I could process my film and print my own photos in my darkroom (where time passed by so quickly, that I didn’t trust that the time on my watch was accurate). I was in love with the whole process.
So today, forgetting about all of the tasks I had planned to accomplish, I simply sat down, pulled photos out one by one, smiled, and enjoyed myself.
Then, when I saw these photos of my dad, I stopped.
I stopped, in part, because I vividly remembered taking these photos of my dad, and how much I enjoyed following him around as he performed some of his training routines (as a decathlete). I remember taking photos of my dad setting his timer on his wristwatch, before getting ready to run at the track; I photographed him resting in between sets, with his hands on the weightlifting bar in the garage; I photographed him sitting on the bleachers at the track, looking out, reflecting on his last performance, and preparing for the next.
But, the other reason I stopped is because I was surprised to recognize and discover my current photographic style in the photos I captured 17 years ago. I saw storytelling, through capturing the details.
I was surprised to make this connection and discovery, because, since I stopped working as a portrait photographer, I have been unable to explain my photographic style to anyone, including myself. These photos of my dad pulled everything together for me.
I know that I love capturing events unfolding in front of me; I love capturing everyday moments; I love capturing the details, which often go unnoticed by those around me; I love capturing connections between people; I cannot get enough of photographing beautiful light; I love pulling images together, to tell a story.
I may not have been able to say it until now, but in my heart, I know that am a storyteller.