10549016145_87f3dbd0c3_o

 

I grew up in rural Ohio. Most of my younger days were spent barefoot in the woods with my animals, when I wasn’t doing chores. It was free and hard and made me who I am today – a tough cookie that’s warm on the inside. I used to be embarrassed by my coarse and earthy upbringing, but now I see that it was a gift.

 

Now I live in a shitty house in suburbia, but it’s the nicest house I’ve ever lived in. We didn’t have much money growing up and I’m grateful for that. It taught me to appreciate the smallest things. I really, really love my grubby abode with the leaky floors and drafty windows. I even have a little slice of woods with a creek in the backyard. The only wild things around these days are my beloved kids, but one day I’ll have a cabin in the woods and a simple, barefooted life again.

 

That’s how I am, I guess.  I like things real and wild and raw and honest. No fuss for me. I’ve no patience for insincerity. I want to get past the veneer and straight to the good stuff. The human stuff. The stuff that makes your heart beat faster because it’s so undeniable and vulnerable. For me, that’s when life comes alive.

 

I’m thrilled by the awkwardness of meeting a new family and finding out how their special-gritty-messy-beautiful-love reveals itself. I hunt for those moments of unbridled connection – it’s always there once the guard comes down. And when I find it I get a rush of warmth and thankfulness, and I fall a little bit in love with the humans in front of my lens. The truth, it gets me every single time.

 

It’s possible that I’m better with pictures than I am with words, so I offer up the video below. The brilliant Alonzo King does a better job of explaining it than I ever could, and I’d love to share it with you.

-Stephanie