Happy Easter Sunday!
I’ve taken a 3 month hiatus from posting on Instagram, a whole year from blogging, and I thought it fitting that I post again on the day that I celebrate when the ultimate victory over sin and death was accomplished – Resurrection Sunday.
My last IG post is dated Dec. 31, 2019 – I’ve been struggling to post anything after this day. Two hours after I had uploaded a happy collection of images from 2019, my brother called and said my dad had been rushed to the ER in an ambulance. He had been fighting cancer for the past 5 years, a battle he wished to keep private, and to respect his wishes, I never shared his condition beyond my immediate circle.
The next few days were filled with hours spent at the hospital, bringing the grandkids in to say goodbye, and lots of tears. He declined steadily due to a blood infection and on the 4thday of the New Year, he passed away. My husband Tim was gone, officiating a wedding out of state (which I was also supposed to shoot), so I called my mother in law at 3 in the morning to come watch the kids while I said a final goodbye to my dad. Although we knew his cancer was terminal and the doctors had given us 3 – 6 months after looking at his last scan, as anyone who has lost a loved one knows, you always wish you had more time and it was and is still, a devastating loss and shock to our whole family.
I still had shoots lined up in January, and although it was hard to show up with a smile, I was thankful that I had work to return to and bring some semblance of normalcy to our life. (For those of you who I photographed so far in 2020 – thank you. You have given me reminders of the precious bond of family and to cherish every moment and milestone.) We had his memorial service the day after Valentine’s Day, and family flew in from Japan to say their final goodbyes.
And then the Corona virus hit.
I had lamented the fact that we had started the New Year off with this huge loss. I wondered at God’s timing. But in retrospect, I see God’s grace over our family. If my dad had gotten worse even a couple of months later, he would’ve entered hospitals with overwhelmed nurses and the risk of infection. My brothers, who flew in from SF and NY, both virus hotspots, would have been risking exposure and passing the virus to my parents. There would have been no public gathering for his funeral and no relatives flying in from Japan. So I am thankful that in God’s loving wisdom and forethought, we were able to celebrate one final Christmas together with my dad and then say our goodbyes – without the virus looming over our heads. In the end, it was the perfect time.
I hesitated sharing all this and therefore, stopped posting.
To post pretty pictures without mention of my dad felt like a denial of what we had just lost and also an acknowledgement that life around me was continuing – I wasn’t ready. I’ve always wanted to bring my full self to this business and share transparently, so that you know the person behind the photos – I’ve done so with my husband’s diagnosis with Retinitis Pigmentosa and the various challenges it brings – but in recent times, I’ve been more reticent to share. Much of Instagram has felt voyeuristic, a place where we passively scroll, read and consume, or it can even feel like an endless commercial with people trying to sell products or services. IG had lost a bit of its shine and with the loss of my dad, felt frivolous.
If we’re honest with ourselves, much of our pretty, curated IG grids are mere shadows, loose sketches, and in some cases, a controlled outward projection of someone’s “perfect” insta-worthy life or brand (hello influencers). I struggled with living authentically on social media, with living wholly in the moment with the real people that matter to me most and with protecting intimate precious moments from the world. I didn’t want to live my life around what I posted, which is so often a pitfall for business’ who are endlessly pushing for more and more content. And as my kids get older, I also want to balance how much I share of them on my business page while also authentically sharing the reality of my everyday life – if you see less images of my kids on my business page, please know that it is thoughtfully omitted… I want to use photography to bless my family, not use my family to bless my photography.
I also envied my husband, who due to his vision loss, doesn’t look at social media – and as a result, doesn’t feel the need to keep up with the Jones’, compare his skills to others or waste time looking at memes (although there are some really good memes out there right now, just sayin’).
I would be remiss to say that this platform has not been a place of online community, much needed whimsy and encouragement as well. It has been and especially in this time of quarantine, it’s a much needed avenue for connection. Tech and media are neutral parties, I just mess it up when I approach it with the wrong motives.
There will always be this tension for all of us as we navigate social media and especially for those of us that run businesses on social media.
I’ve come to accept it and I’m glad that the tension exists. It should.
We were created and made for more than this physical life and undeniably, created to live lives that are more robust and fleshed out than the digital space we stare at on our phones.
So today I post.
Today I post because I celebrate the fact that although my dad’s flesh and blood body failed, his soul is eternally with the One Who Never Fails. He is risen, as He said He would. I am thankful.
Today I post because although there are times in our life when we wonder if God is real, when we are grieving a loss and wonder if we can ever recover, we can bear witness to His love for us by looking at the historical event of Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. I am certain.
Today I post because I know my security is in my God – I live for an audience of One, not for a follower base of many. I have assurance.
Today I post because I choose to move on in a way that honors my father – my earthly one who I will see again soon – and my heavenly Father, who gives me the ultimate marching orders in life – to love Him and to love others as myself. I choose to use my camera as one small way I fulfill that commission. I am inspired.
I’ve had the utmost privilege in photographing your families. For the past 10 years, I’ve been there when you made your vows, when you welcomed a newborn into your home, when you celebrated the milestone of the first year, and when you strived to take one last photo with your terminally ill parent. Thank you for trusting me with capturing what is most precious to you.
And right now, although it feels like we live in an alternate universe with face masks in every grocery store, news headlines that read like bad movie scripts, and kids out of school for the rest of the year, I’m looking forward to the day when I can photograph all of you freely again. The time will come again – probably not as fast as we wish it would – but it will come.
In the meantime, keep taking photos of your kids with your phones, SLRs, whatever you have, because babies don’t keep and this will be part of their story. Keep making plans and be flexible with how it might look. Keep celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. Keep looking for the good.
I’m choosing to move forward and in a time where you might be facing grief, financial loss, illness, stress from the unknown, I hope that you can keep moving forward too.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
*We had the talented David Cho photograph our family right after my dad was diagnosed with cancer and this was also several months after we discovered Tim was going blind. My dad was slotted to go into surgery a few days later and we wanted images before his health declined. I’m so glad we did. Thank you David for this precious gift. We used these images as part of his memory book at the funeral.
**What more can I say, I definitely got my dad’s curly hair …#twins. Miss you and love you Papa.
Loved photographing this sweet girl with her parents – we started at the lovely Olympic Sculpture Park and then walked down to the beach. It’s so great to have a variety of images without having to travel too far – these spots are right in the city!