Along the Way: Emmy Lou Virginia Photography

As a child, I remember apple blossoms almost breaking my heart with beauty; the pale pink veins, the gnarled branches. A flowering cherry tree had spent my childhood growing tall beside our house, and one year, a branch climbed through the window and bloomed into my bedroom, and oh, it was breathtaking. I collected all the buttercups that grew in our field, fistfuls of them, because I thought they looked exactly as yellow was supposed to look.

It wasn’t just flowers. It was the solidity of a strong wind when you lean against it; that unexpected flash of smile from a stranger; a tired mother tucking back wisps of hair as she bent towards her child. It was the shadow of a sheer skirt flowing across the pavement in the noontime sun - the way even the shadow seemed transparent. How an ocean so infinitely absorbs the pinpricks of falling rain, without a sound, and how our little son runs headlong into his daddy’s arms, without a doubt. And I stand at the edge of it all, and how am I so blessed to witness all this beauty?

 I picked up my camera because of the heart of photography.

 I know very little, really, about how my camera works, and about the technicalities of photography, and I occasionally google photographic terms that I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t fully understand. When talking to those who know far more than me, I nod wisely and hope they don’t ask me any questions.

 This is not to say that the technical side of photography is not important, because of course it is, or that I don’t feel I should learn more, because I should. But what I have discovered about my approach to photography is this: what a photograph feels means far more to me than the lens I used or the shutter speed I shot it at. I want a mother to have a visual record of how it felt to reach for her toddler’s hand as he took some of his first steps. I want sunset pebble collecting to feel as dreamy in a photograph as it does when I am standing on the beach, breathing in the misty light. I want my images to remind you of what old books smell like, and the texture of the dusty pages between your fingers. And the tender helplessness of a newborn searching for his mother’s touch.

 And yes, often I feel like a fraud. I see so much, but capture so little. The few times I’ve received emails from clients telling me that my photos made them cry, I cried too, because at the time I’d felt like I was only photographing the ragged edges of their beauty, but they saw through that to the heart of what I did.

Moments are so short, and beauty can be so intangible.  It is a precious thing to save them, and a precious thing to be given the gift of photographing this intersection of real moments and beauty.

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