My youngest child, sweet Ana Elisa (whose adoption I chronicled last year and, also, the subject of my very last blog entry:) recently decided to style her own hair. She pulled the same move her sister had when she was also near the same age. She snuck some scissors into the bathroom and decided to design her hair in a way that arguably defies the style of modern times. Or, really, let’s face it … any recent times that I might happen to know of.

As divine timing would have it, though, I’d just brought my three kids into the studio a mere two hours before that to get some new portraits of them. I was lucky enough to capture some truly lovely images of the three of them, but I also focused on each of them individually, and I’m so glad I did.

As a photographer, I usually find that there can be an incredible challenge in trying to pull out the unique depth of character that you can feel about a subject … and then capture the complexity of that with such a visual medium. There are those times, though, that it all comes together and you feel it and you find it and you click your shutter at just the right microsecond and, there, you know you have it. An incredibly rewarding experience, when that happens.

Other times, you seek and you know what you want and you try and you try and – later, when you are stepping through your images – you see it. The one frame you were hoping you’d captured but weren’t completely sure you had until you saw it right there in front of you, better than you’d hoped.

This image I photographed of Ana Elisa has really stayed with me, such a blend of both. I saw the exact moment I wanted as it unfolded, and I felt a new beauty in the seeing of it afterwards. It seems to expansively convey so much of her to me – a beautiful child, yes, but also … strong. tough. a survivor. You can see the strength and near-wariness in her. She questions a lot and evaluates a lot. She wants to know what’s true.

You can see, also, how she clings to that which brings her comfort. How she needs that affection and love and warmth. How she wants her softness to be discovered. Cherished. How it is not very far below the surface at all. It is, in fact, right there. Always.

As simply as most children just inherently need you to understand, she wants you to see that she can feel tough and she can feel powerless. She wants independence and to do it herself and she wants to be held tightly and to be loved without condition.

Of course it’s not only children who want that.
It’s not a far cry to say that we all want to be loved that way.

So … this is my little girl, age 4 years and 2 months. Strong, tough, moving through. Soft, needy, holding tight.

Thank you for being mine, sweet girl, as best as I can claim you.

I really do love you.