Being a documentary photographer means being a part of people's lives. I've found out over the years that cameras, film, technology and other things really have little to do with a photo... although, of course, you need these items to actually make a photograph. Yet, much of it is about connecting with your fellow human and relating on a personal level. Too many times I find myself hiding behind a camera to take photos only to realize that the best ones I take (at least to me) are ones where I've connected with people.
When I met Dana, she introduced me to her two boys and her husband. One of the boys, like my nephew, is autistic. I automatically connected. Dana realized that getting two boys to sit still for posed photographs was going to be next to impossible and so, after looking at my work, she contacted me and we arranged a date for a photoshoot.
When I gave her the 4x6 prints, she mentioned how she loved the photos but also how she was glad that I was able to create something that they could not do on their own.
This photoshoot was not orchestrated at all. Other than a few location suggestions, I was hovering around the family and their dog in the backyard and even in the bedrooms. From the moment I stepped into the house, I started photographing and after a few minutes of some slight awkwardness, Dana and her family eventually let me document a day in their life.
Further into the photograph set, you'll see a photograph of one of the boys crying. This is due to the boy falling through the crack that separates the two beds (the boys were jumping on the bed). Dana later told me this was a pretty common occurrence for them. Fun fact: There's a video of me back when I was a kid jumping on the bed and, of course, falling over the side and onto the ground. Tears ensued. I was 29....er.... 2 years old or so.
While I tried to get some time for Dana and her husband together, it was only a few moments before we heard the boys rush into the room and start jumping on their parents' bed. All the moments in this photoshoot were real. Life is real and never really perfect... but it's in that imperfection that we find love and we find what makes families.