Filed in Personal — March 25, 2022

Photographer Love Letters

When I (Hanna) was young, I had stacks of journals on stacks of journals. I often felt like I didn’t know what to say, as if my words were lost in the woods, until I’d lift my pen. I’d find my voice spilled over the wide-ruled pages in a waterfall of junior-high scrawl. When nothing else made sense to me, when words failed, I could always write and the knots would unravel within me. 

In my early 20’s I published a few poems and prose. And then life. Marriage, divorce, marriage. Babies and more babies. Somewhere along the line, the ink dried up in the busyness. 

But later I felt the same way when the weight of a camera first settled into the landscape of my hand. I could tell a story without ever opening my mouth. I’ve always felt invincible behind my lens. Even in the darkest corners of my own life, I could paint my joy and my pain and my desire and my longing into other peoples pictures.  I have become the stories and the people I photograph over-and-over again: a child running through tall grass, the weathered grandmother laughing into the sun, the boudoir client draped over the bed. It’s you. And it’s also me. It’s my voice. It’s my words without words. 

This June I will turn 40 and I’ve noticed the terrain of my heart resettling. I’m in the very beginning stages of my nest emptying out. I hear the whistle of a train rounding a corner. Change is coming. My children are growing, they are standing on the edge of their own lives, toes curled around the precipice, sucking in a sharp inhale before the jump. My arms are already so heavy with the weight of empty air. Suddenly, I have this relentless, driving urge to get back to the roots of who I am. I am tired of going fast. I want to slow down. I want to savor. I want to gather myself into my own arms and rest. 

Recently a kind woman commented on our Facebook page, encouraging me to write more, simply because she believed I was meant to write. It was a message I needed at that specific moment. I followed her words down a familiar path to a stack of dusty journals. I’m going to write again. The words will help me steer this little ship through the sea of change. Art will lead the way for me, it always has. 

I am starting a series called Love Letters. My hope is to combine my two loves: photography and writing. I want to unfold my memories and wear them like a favorite old sweater. I want to create something beautiful to look back on when I am an old lady. I want to celebrate every inch of my life as a mother, daughter, wife, sister, friend. If you would like to follow along, I’ll be using #relicphotographicloveletters on social media and will also be sharing to our website blog. Heidi will be joining here and there. Some will be old works, some will be new. It won’t be fancy. Just a girl planting a garden. Just to see what grows. 

Click the link below to read the most recent love letter posted, to my Gideon.

Photo by Joyce McCown on Unsplash


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