Something Unplanned and Unexpectedly Beautiful
This whole series of images was a beautiful, unplanned event. Madison was a constant babysitter for my children. They adored her. In fact, she spent so much time with them, and they were so comfortable with her, we called her our 'sparent' (spare parent). A few months ago Madison decided she wanted to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This means she would be leaving us for at least 18 months. A week before Madison was scheduled to leave I had her come over to my studio one last time. "I'll just need a few minutes so I can light test this new backdrop," I told her as she walked in. I threw her in a skirt and top, "just for fun," I said. I took my first shot and then something clicked in my head. "How much time do you have," I asked Madison as I started pulling out swaths of fabric. She shrugged her shoulders, "I've got nothing going on." "Perfect."
And before she knew it Madison was wrapped in fabric and holding an ancestral sword from my husbands grandfather. We talked about being brave . . . and being scared. We talked about trying even when we didn't fully understand. We talked about faith and light and sacrifice. In those unplanned moments Madison became my version of a warrior princess walking resolute into battle.
Wrapped in robes pulled from hangers, holding a rusted sword older than her, she was every ounce a warrior I would follow into any battle.
This last image was going to be an outtake. It wasn't going to see the light of day. As I was photographing Madison on this sunny Saturday afternoon my daughter walked in and saw Madison, one of her favorite people. "Oh wow!" Amy said. "You look so beautiful, Madison! can I be photoed with you?" Madison is wise enough to know when to say yes. So Amy pulled out her braids and snuggled into Madison. And that's when I saw this . . . Madison, a protector of innocence. Defender of my children. An example of faith and goodness to the ones I love most. I saw the love and trust children have for those they love. I saw in many ways what motherhood feels like . . . and it's more than I could put into words.
Or, perhaps, it's more accurate to say I lack the words to do the feeling justice.
As I think about Madison now and who she is, I realize that she wasn't playing a part. She wasn't pretending.
There is no acting in her portrayal of strength and bravery. She wasn't just pretending to be royalty . . . she is. She is royal. She is the daughter of a King. She is a warrior. She is brave.
And I don't know that I can think of anything more beautiful than that.
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