Every so often, I get the opportunity to photograph something entirely unexpected. To me, that is a huge gift.
Yulia, a previous family portraits client of mine, contacted me looking for a small session for her parents in celebration of their 50 year anniversary. I had met her parents, Arnold and Ludmila, briefly at a previous family session. I remembered them as quiet, gentle, and full of smiles. Yulia and I picked a date and location, and I showed up, excited as always, and ready for a family portrait session in celebration of these two people.
To the onlooker, I imagine this Knoxville Botanical Garden photography session appeared as many of my other sessions appear. We laughed. We were goofy. We chatted about unimportant things. And, we discussed life a bit. We swapped stories. We had a lot of fun. And, well, we took a whole bunch of pictures. It was pretty normal.
But, our time together was anything but normal for me.
My goal and prayer before every single engagement with my clients is that I will photograph their connections, that I will capture what they need me to capture in that moment in their lives. It is a prayer that has humbly carried me through many years of this profession and keeps my head, heart, and goals focused on my work and my clients. It is my prayer and goal to capture my clients’ connections. And, let me tell you… I had no idea of the bond and connection that I was walking into when I began this session.
Arnold and Ludmila didn’t speak much English. My directions to them came through exampling and hand gestures. What I couldn’t get across in body language was translated by their daughter, Yulia. As the evening together unfolded, we were covered in the love that these two kind and deep humans shared. The years of life together came pouring out of them in the way they held each other, teased each other, and shared laughs, looks, and a quick kiss on the cheek every now and then.
It was as though the world around me was saying, “This is what 50 years looks like. This is dedication. This is family. This is love. This is life.”
This Is 50 Years
Perhaps it is the influence of the world we are living in now. Perhaps it that I am growing older. Perhaps it is that I have never seen this type of interaction. But those moments stuck with me. I am fairly certain that I will carry Arnold and Ludmila with me from now on, loving in a way that I hope will get me to 50 years with those that I am surrounded by.
I’m sure it was not the intention of this couple to have an impact on me. But they molded me, making me a little better.
I am grateful for amazing people in my life. They come in all different ways. And, this is what 50 years looks like.
With Grit & Grace~
Sarah Keenan, Photographer