Mud Stains, Tousled Hair, Imperfections and All…

I spent a lot of my life wishing I didn’t feel so deeply. From a very early age, I’ve felt every emotion, good and bad, as if it’s been placed under a magnifying glass. A child not yet old enough to be out of her car seat, I remember music having the biggest effect on me. If a sad song happened to come through the speakers, my wailing and tears would finally force my mom to change the station.

I did my research: was something wrong with me? Was it mental? I’d observe how others seemed to trot through life with almost robotic actions, able to process good news or bad with unwavering acceptance. And although I didn’t wish to live devoid of any emotion, I did wish for a balance.

As I got older, I noticed that people seemed to have the greatest effect on me. As I fell into photojournalism, I found it was a way for me to channel those strong emotions I had into something that was beneficial. Because I felt the emotions so strongly, I was able to recognize and predict tiny, uncertain moments that portrayed a beautiful, emotional single second in time. And although I’ve never been a sad person, it did help me find that balance I was looking for all those years. Most of the time, it’s small things – the curl of eyelashes or a glance between expecting parents. It’s the in-between moments that I challenge myself to look for and to capture.

And though my job has been full of healing, there are still things that cut me right to the core: like a few days ago, when I received an e-mail from a potential client that had inquired about a photo session with me. Although I had responded to several of her e-mails previously, I had overlooked her last e-mail and it had gone without a response for nearly a week. Understandably, she explained that she was no longer interested in a photo session because she felt that I was too busy to even respond to emails. It crushed me because the last thing I want someone to think is that I’m too busy for them.

There are changes I’d make in my business, of course. I think any business owner would be more than willing to admit that there are certain parts of their business they feel they could greatly improve upon. I fail at something every day, e-mail especially. But what keeps me so enamored with this little business is the hope that I was able to show someone something about themselves or their precious family that is beautiful, even if it might be something so small and ordinary that they don’t realize it. Life slips by us so fast – we lose loved ones, things change, and those babies? They grow up.  They outgrow that outfit that brings out the color of their eyes. You put them down one day and don’t pick them up again. And what I want to capture for people is a photo of their life then, one that they can look back at — that time they thought was so hectic, mud stains, tousled hair, imperfections and all — and for them to feel a longing inside just at the sight of it.

___________________

A gentle hug from a bride’s grandmother after a wedding ceremony. That sweet woman would go to be with Jesus not even a year after this photo was taken.

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The inquisitiveness of two cowgirls.

All Images © Ashlee Culverhouse Photo 2012

And the imagination of two free-spirited little boys. The mother of these two would tell me a few years later that she tears up each time she sees these photos in her playroom because her boys don’t play dress up like that anymore.

All Images © Ashlee Culverhouse Photo 2012All Images © Ashlee Culverhouse Photo 2012

Small hands soaked in milk and chubby toes gracing the kitchen counter20130923-D70_1129 2

And traces of tiny fingerprints from months of faces pressed against the glass.20130930-D70_3656

In the stillness of late afternoon, photographing the soft light that falls
across the new mother comforting her baby as he cries and she hopes she is doing it right.

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A mischievous look from a baby-faced little girl with twisted curls. That baby face isn’t as noticeable now as it was then.

All Images © Ashlee Culverhouse Photo 2012

 A legacy of love and hardwork for our small, Southern town.

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Morning snuggles

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And dust spilling in the window, lit brilliantly by the sunset as a bow and arrow battle takes place between brothers in their bedroom.

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Two sisters laughing arm and arm at the site of their parent’s home that is loved just as deeply now as it was then.

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A shy groom twirling his bride on a crowded dance floor

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And boys just, well…being boys.

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The joy of a mother who just had her little boy run and jump into her arms.

All Images © Ashlee Culverhouse Photo 2012

And the lines that appear on a father’s face as he laughs with the miniature version of himself.

All Images © Ashlee Culverhouse Photo 2012

Young love

All Images © Ashlee Culverhouse Photo 2012

And dances in the middle of a deserted street as the sun fades from view.

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A gentle pat for a loyal fishing partner

All Images © Ashlee Culverhouse Photo 2012

Childlike joy.

All Images © Ashlee Culverhouse Photo 2012

And childlike innocence.

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Perfect ringlet curls twisting

curls

Moments when manners don’t matter.

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And princesses in frilly dresses and boots.

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The excitement of doing it all over again.

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The way he falls so naturally by her side

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And the way they fall so naturally into parenthood.

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___________________

These moments, and many others like them, are what give me purpose at this point in my life. There are so many things I have left to learn. There is so much I could improve on, starting with my neglected inbox. I am so, so sorry if anyone has ever felt like I’m too busy for them. After days of editing, wrangling my mind in long enough to sit down at a computer or phone and answer emails has always been a struggle, yet a struggle I’m willing to tackle. Nothing matters more to me than capturing these moments.

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