This letter comes to you from an overflowing heart. I have launched a huge passion project to photograph 100 families for free. It's a huge thing to throw out to the world, but I saw the value in this mission when I had the idea and now, I see the value x100. I have read dozens of submissions that have brought me to tears. I am utterly speechless by the honesty and openness of each person who has taken the time to write to me about their family story - both the good and the bad, the hard and the easy, no one has held back. And each submissions has been beautiful and inspiring and life-changing.
I did not expect for me to be so impacted and transformed by starting this project. It has been less than a week since I launched the 100 families project and I am already changed and marked forever by the hearts and spirits and stories that I have been opened to.
I wanted to share this with you because I am experiencing something magical right now, and it was birthed from something so simple - an idea that I somehow got the courage to let out into the world.
As I have written many times, I believe in the value of documentary family photography. I believe that every family deserves their story told honestly. I believe in preserving your heritage and looking back on honest images that remind you how precious the gift of your family is. I whole heartedly believe these words, but I have been unsure how to spread this passion I have to families. A lot of me doubted that people believed the same thing. And I have been corrected very quickly by so many families by deciding to put this big idea out there and seeing what happens.
Families have written to me about how invaluable it is to look back on their real lives. The day-to-day routines. They see that there is beauty in the mundanity of everyday life, because this is real life. The actual life that they are breathing and feeling. I have read stories of families with children who are fighting for their lives. Families who have told me that these photos may be some of the last with their family as they know it.
I have read stories of women who have battled with postpartum depression, but have acknowledged their strength and love for their children despite the pain they have walked through. I have read about families who have adopted, who are geographically disconnected right now, and who have fought through legal battles to keep their children together. In 4 days time, I have been opened to the worlds of so many families, living through life, fighting to stay together, and even fighting to stay alive. And then I have read stories of families who are just beginning and are experiencing the beauty of raising children for the first time. Every story is so uniquely different, and every story is absolutely beautiful.
More than anything, it has made me proud of people. We hear all of the time that everyone is fighting his/her own battle, so treat people with grace. Well, it's true. We all are walking out our lives and experiencing all kinds of heartache and fear and doubt. But, even more than that, and what I have felt in all of the family stories I have read over the past few days, is that we all experience a huge range of life battles, but we are all resilient and hopeful and capable of greatness. Every one of us.
I can write an entire page of reasons why I shouldn't be photographing 100 families for free. Maybe more than a page. But, I believe in this; I believe in the gift I am giving to each family and I believe in the greater gift of how it is celebrating the beauty of family. Of making the stories of so many families alive and honestly told and shared with the rest of the world.
Honest stories change lives.
These stories have already changed mine, and I can't wait to share them with you.
I've decided to share my process as I continue down this journey. I look forward to sharing more about each family as I document them. I hope to do my best in writing about my journey so that it may inspire you and connect you with all of these incredible people.
aaaaaand...if you have not already, please go to my homepage to see how you can get involved with the project or share it with a family you know. You've got until July 2nd to submit!
Thank you for reading and being excited about this project as well. It means the world.