The truth is that I almost always turn down extended family sessions. Posing large groups of people is not something I'm great at. It gives me stress and it doesn't inspire me. But when Sarah reached out and asked would I please come to spend a day with her extended family at their multi-generation cottage built by her grandparents in the 40s and also photograph their daughter's first birthday celebration there while I was at it, I couldn't say no. She didn't want anyone to pose, she just wanted to freeze all those dear faces and that special place in time. And she wanted to mark the passing of her first year of motherhood.
You see, it's sort of personal for me. My extended family owned a cottage very much like this one on a lake also very much like their lake. And all my happiest childhood memories happened there. When we sold it in my 20s, I wept. Every summer I grieve afresh for that place; I miss it almost physically. Going to Sarah's family's cottage was a little cathartic. I walked around seeing them all with the same affection I feel for my tribe, feeling the same sentiment for their cottage and lake that I felt for my own. And I tried to put all of that into the photographs.
That's what makes photographs good, I've come to believe: when the photographer is able to see and feel what's in front of her. Because somehow that emotion and that ability to relate all gets crammed into the frame along with the strong compositional lines, perfectly chosen moments, and technical settings applied. Without the photographer's feeling and seeing, the images fall flat.
But that's probably enough personal reflection on artist experience. I now put all of that aside and offer you a tiny selection of the hundreds of images captured during my day at Kidder's Cache, and the celebration of a beloved daughter (and granddaughter and niece and cousin) on her first birthday.