I often go missing at dinner parties, only to be found much later lost in the photographs lining a staircase or inventing stories to go with the family photo wall. It’s a habit I learned early on. When I was little I spent a lot of time with my two Nanas. Nana number one loved her dogs and let me make mud pies at the river near her house. Nana number two loved photos; they lined her walls and shelves – snapshots of her kids and grandbabies and, best of all, photos of my mom. I used to stand in the hallway imagining the stories that surrounded them. Some I was old enough to remember, and others I had to make up. Sometimes one of my aunts would come by and tell me this or that about one of the photos. Sometimes I liked the stories in my head more.
There was one photo of my Mom that I loved the most. Resting her face on one hand and smiling, she just looked so beautiful and carefree and alive. It took me years to ask my Nana if I could have that photo. And now, almost 30 years after my Mom died, her photo sits on my family wall and my own kids ask questions about her. And, they ask about my handsome Dad in the photo that sits next to it – the one where he’s standing on the river after the flood. He’s holding a coffee mug and wearing this amazing sweater. Just looking at it, I can smell him…dirt and coffee. I love that photo. I wish he still had that sweater.
When I started to travel, it was my Dad who loaned me my first camera. I photographed film – rolls and rolls of grainy, beautiful, black and white film taken throughout Thailand, India, and into Europe. I wasn’t drawn to the buildings or the landscapes, but to the people – the lines in peoples faces, their character, expressions, and interactions.Maybe it’s here that I’m supposed to tell you that it was those photos and experiences that made me want to be a photographer.
Maybe it was. I don’t know when the exact moment was that I decided this would be my life course. It wasn’t until I had my own kids that I considered photography as a career. And even then, for a long time, I was just a mom with a camera. I had two little boys who were showing me the world through children’s eyes and I was along for the ride, hoping to capture a few pieces of it.
Somewhere in the midst of babies, late night photoshop tutorials online, and a move to Whistler – the phone started ringing. People started asking me to take their photos. Somehow in the evenings drinking red wine with my husband, a business plan was created, written on the backs of coloring sheets in crayon. And somewhere in the last 10 years, I waded through the creative confusion of who I thought I had to be, and who I wanted to be as a photographer.
And somehow I came to this – I am still a girl who loves photos, who still loves to stare at family walls in houses and make up stories about them, who would have continued to take photos even if it hadn’t become my career.
I used to think it was because of loss that I became what I am – that losing my mom at the age of nine made me want to capture memories for people. But its not loss – it’s life – that inspires me. Living a life I want to remember, and that I want my kids and my grandbabies to remember.
I hope you like the stories you see here, and I hope you might let me capture your memories for you. xo
It was 1999 and I was traveling through India. In my last four days in Delhi – I met him.
And I knew the second I saw him that he would be the man I would marry. We sat in tea shops, and talked about – well, everything.
And it was not one thing that made us connect the way we did. It was all things, including a mutual love of photography.
I got on a plane home four days later. It was the end of my time there, but the beginning of his. Eleven days later he walked into a little shop in Northern India called AliBaba’s Treasures and bought my wedding ring.
Three months later we were engaged. Within a year we were married and back in India.
He is my inspiration, my love, my best friend. And he takes amazing photos. Sometimes we take them together.
He’s the photojournalist of the two of us capturing moments as they unfold in places like Afghanistan, Chile, Fiji, and Nepal. In the winter, you will find him in the mountains, camera in hand, photographing all things snow.
You can see more of his work here: http://chadchomlack.tumblr.com