By Annette Tomlinson
Sponsor Relations Coordinator
The sunlight peeks through the trees, gently kissing the newly designed fall backdrop and winding paved driveway, waiting to light our first subject who I will soon see from behind my lens.
Memory cards, fresh batteries, reflectors, and a large drink all sit on a table outside as me and my assistants eagerly greet our first little one. It is picture day for the Tupelo Children’s Mansion children as well as those that attend our on-campus Christian school. However, for us, it’s so much more than a photograph.
Each child is a real person, trying to maneuver through a life of discovering their path and realizing their own self worth. Knowing this very thing, I find it an amazing opportunity to reach beyond the snap of a button and really work to create an image that is beautiful. In doing so, we strive to make each child feel confident and comfortable in our presence. Aperture, shutter speed, lines and light mean everything in a portrait, but as the artist, I don’t want to ever forget the subject themselves.
So many times I gently touched the face of a child, and it’s as if I can see the loneliness and pain that they try so desperately to hide. It is our prayer at that moment, to stop and minister through the lens, helping to depict the beauty that lies within them, as if to offer promise for better days ahead.
After the processing of portraits, I will see teens walk a little taller and with a smile on their faces as they eagerly share their prints with their teachers and peers. Only a photographer knows the work that goes into true portraiture, but the final piece is always worth the journey it took to get there.
Just yesterday a young lady gave me the impression that she was ugly, awkward and uncomfortable with pictures. A few moments later, after being set amongst the fall leaves with the dance of sunlight across her back, and a few kind words of affirmation, she smiled at me as I showed her a portrait of a beautiful young lady, in a whole new light. It is those moments that I pray will happen again and again from behind my lens.