As I look at what my friends have gone through or experiences I have had, I realise no-one is an exception to the rules in life!
As I have gotten older, I have come to a better understanding of the pain involved in love and loss and have started to really become empathetic in my nature. Someone once asked me if I would consider photographing a funeral (as they discussed their grandfathers)! I had never thought about it before and my first instinct was to say no way, for a couple of reasons!
However, if that was me I would want someone quietly in the background, during what I would imagine to be my darkest hour! Capturing those moments that would become a blur to me later. Could I do open casket though!? definately not! So I guess my answer would be No, I don't do funerals!!!
My dear friend Hina was pregnant and we were all so excited for her and her husband Steve, until I received a phone call that they were in hospital and they had lost their baby girl. Words could not explain the sadness I felt in her pain. Immediately I wanted to help, I didn't know how - but I wanted to help any way I could! I just didn't realise that help was going to come in the form of photographing the funeral.
Every day in the lead up I felt like I was in counselling sessions with friends and family, preparing me for what I was about to experience. But nothing really could have prepared me for the emotional roller-coaster of that week! Even though I was asked by Hina & Steve to take these photo's and given instructions that they wanted as much as I could do, I still felt intrusive.
I was struggling to come to terms with this photoshoot as it was, when I received a call about a dear friend from school passing away. I couldn't do it, I already was emotional and now I couldn't stop crying - for love of my children, family and friends, for loss, for my friends widowed wife, for the pain she would be currently going through, for the memories and for Hina & Steve. Life just became so quickly real and the realisation of how short life can be just hit me!
I walked into the funeral home with much hesitation, not knowing if I could and started my work. It was the most spiritual experience of my photographing life, I wasn't expecting anything like it and I will always remember amongst the grief, those peaceful feelings in the room on that day!
The most beautiful moment, was watching Hina's mother instincts pour out onto her baby girl. Wrapping her, hugging her, smiling, talking, crying!
It's ok for a photographer to show emotion I believe, as long as it is contained. Behind my camera where I felt hidden, quiet tears were streaming down my face as I continued to photograph this family's last moments together. I felt humbled in life's circumstances!
Six months later, we weren't expecting that we would be going through the same ordeal all over again with Hina & Steve, when this time they lost their baby boy.
Through much mental preparation again we got through the photo's to capture some really special moments for the family. I cried for Hina & Steve when they lost Bernadine and cried again for them when they lost Stephen Jnr. No one can prepare you for the loss of one child, and no one can understand the loss of another just 6months later. I don't think we are meant to understand how life is meant to work. Hina & Steve definitely are a strength in themselves as they have experienced love and loss in their life!
It is ok to cry during our struggles in life!
This blog was created with permission by Hina. Due to the sacred nature of the images these will be the only two photographs for viewing! I wanted to create this post and had discussed it with Hina, so that we can come to show you love and loss, empathy and struggle. Through our trials in life we may find some comfort from each other - even if this helps only one person. I want people to be reassured that it is ok to cry and it is ok to show that side. Some of our most powerful photographs show these strong emotions, and maybe help us reflect on our own moments in life. As much as we may feel alone sometimes, their are some of us out there who do understand what you are going through, and that you are not alone ... even if it feels like it!