Captured Innocence

When I was a child, I am not sure if taking photographs was frowned on, considered vain, poor etiquette or just not done like it is these days.   In any event, I can say there are relatively few pictures in existence of me when I was under the age of five or six.  Unfortunately, the ones beyond that age should be used to start a big bonfire.  To say I was a goofy looking child would be putting it mildly.   Maybe that was my goal, to make folks laugh.   I think Ugly Betty and I would have been best friends.   And my fashion sense, well that is another topic all in itself!

Maybe, for that reason, I have always gone slightly overboard on taking photographs of my own two children. I wanted to be sure they always had images of their younger years.  I felt it would be interesting to look back, when they had babies, to see if there was a resemblance.  Those old baby books I kept, with the infant and preschool photos inside are priceless, to my adult children and to me.  Now that they have children, I find about the only thing they care to look at in the book are the photos. They could care less what their first word was, their first solid food, etc.   

I was one of those mothers who dragged the kids and the husband to Olan Mills Studio for all three pictures sittings when offered this deal over the phone.  You remember the deal?  That is, after the 5th call to my house and three weeks of no sleeping at night, they finally wore me down and I said yes.  When I got to the studio and saw my baby’s pictures,  I broke down and bought the entire package.  How could I possibly say no when it was such an adorable picture of him smiling? Never mind that he probably just passed gas, in my mind, he was a happy baby full of joy.   

Oh and the next photo shoot, this sitting was the screaming photo. I am guessing this is a standard for all new moms.  This one his face almost matched the cute red corduroy pants his grandmother bought him for Christmas.  Even his bald little head was red.  She was going to be so touched I used them in these pictures.  This one he was not cooperative at all, I suppose colic kicked in. I really am not sure the lady believed me because all she seemed eager to do was get me and my son out of her studio and on our way.  That is, until we came back in to view the pictures, then she thought he was precious, even with his mouth wide home and tears streaming down his face.  I valued those pictures, at the time.  

By the time I was done with Olan Mills Photo Studio, all 3 sittings for their “fantastic deal” for new moms, my expense that year was equivalent to a house payment.  Good-bye Olan Mills Photo Studio, hello K-Mart special deal in the middle of the Blue Light special by the ironing boards.  Ironic too that a few years later, I found pictures lying around in a box.  I realized these were extras of those old Olan Mills picture days. Wow, what was I thinking; especially that second one. The only thing cute in the photo was the red pants!  I did the right thing, I burned them!   

When my grand-kids came long, my passion did not lessen any towards taking pictures. It only intensified. Facebook hasn't helped any either.  My adult children are very good-natured about it now. Much more accommodating than when they were the subjects of my photographs.

However, my grand-kids are quickly learning to pick up their parents’  attitude towards
Grandma’s camera. I am seeing a pattern begin with the older two.  Often, one of them will either start to run for cover or turn up a lower lip making a naughty shot that says pouting is what you are getting on film.  Or Ava, my only grand-daughter, is fond of simply turning her head down so I have a nice shot of the top of her head.  At least her mom puts pretty bows up there so I have a shot of a gorgeous bow for her in years to come.   Lately, though, I have found if I keep clicking my camera away, laughing all the while, eventually she will look up. And then, I get the perfect picture of her smile! Boy, what we Grandmas have to do to get a good picture.  Delete ten bad ones to get one good one. 

This year, prior to the  Autism Walk in Nashville, I asked my friend, Carole Robinson, reporter/photographer for the Williamson Herald for a favor.  She agreed to take photographs for me at this event of the kids. It is hard to be interactive with the children and, at the same time, be a shutter bug with the camera catching them in action. And the action shots are always my favorite, I hate the posed shots.  I wanted someone to be able to capture the special moments for me so that I could just be there, loving my grand-kids and be a part of their special day.

The Saturday the event was held was a perfect setting for pictures because it was made for children like my grandsons. Both boys are autistic, one is two and one is three.  Ty and Jake were two of the stars, our heroes.  And the field was wide open giving the kids full rein to run around and be free, something both boys so enjoy doing at will.   It was a beautiful sight  to see them in their wide eyed innocence, happy and laughing.   My niece, expecting her first born child child, watched with a twinkle in her eye wondering if her upcoming baby might one day be just as boundless in energy.

Our walking team was there to also show our support for the boys best supporters of all, their immediate family.   Every day my son, my daughter-in-law and their big sister Ava live with autism, the work and challenges that go into life with autism, never complaining, never questioning, just loving and accepting the challenges and moving forward.   They are the face of an American family dealing with a life altering diagnosis that is forever changing the landscape of their life.  In reality, it is affecting all of our communities, it is just some citizens have their heads turned downward,  like Ava occasionally does.  Eventually, just like I tell Ava, everyone in the communities will have to lift their heads up, look around and see....it is there.  You can't keep your head down forever. 

Captured images speak louder than words.  Perhaps this is where the blog should end and the video should begin…..    (click on the link below)   
Where's Jake?
                                                        ***VIDEO LINK***                                             

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