The Gift of Being Seen

Jendowner1 © 2009 she saw things : jen downer

There is a certain vulnerability that goes along with letting someone into your home to be a witness to your existence.

This past weekend we were blessed with an opportunity to be seen. We welcomed someone new into our home to document us: the subtleties, the connections, the support, the silliness, the four of us.

Jendowner2 © 2009 she saw things : jen downer

I first met Jen Downer a few years back through some random online
connections. We had dinner together in Portland and talked about life and creating and kids and special needs and photography. We talked about having her take photos of our family at
some point in the future. Fast forward a couple years and the addition
of a new family member seemed like a really good time to be seen.

To be honest, my first thought about having someone take our photos was this: we take so many photos already; we capture each other as we go about our daily routines; Chris and I are quick to grab the camera before moments pass by - why do we need someone else to take more?

Those first two photos are the reason why.

There is really something amazing about having someone else come into your home with a camera in hand who is willing to casually interact, blend in, and document us as we are. Jen captured things that we just can't do on our own, with a sensitivity to the dynamics of our family that was truly appreciated.

Jendowner3© 2009 she saw things : jen downer (butterfly mobile from Royal Buffet)

When she emailed these first few images to me yesterday my immediate response was that these images were my heart.

Jendowner5 © 2009 she saw things : jen downer

Jen and Simon hit it off from the start. I had prepped him this past week that my friend was going to be coming over to take photos of our family. She even got to witness his full production/reading/acting of Green Eggs & Ham. He got to hold her camera and take a few shots.

Jendowner4 © 2009 she saw things : jen downer

What a gift.

Thank you Jen, for seeing us. 

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell some new stories.

I can't wait to see the rest of the photos.

102 thoughts

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25 of 102
  1. Janine Fox

    2009-06-08 14:11:54 -0400

    I have tears in my eyes Ali. They are absolutely beautiful!

  2. Rachel

    2009-06-08 14:35:57 -0400

    Wow...these are great photos and really do tell stories about your family. And your right, sometimes its nice to get a fresh eye to come in and capture those moments we don't see or can't capture on our own. Lovely :)

  3. Gretchen Garcia

    2009-06-08 14:37:24 -0400

    omg - such beautiful photos! She really captured the warmth and happiness that exists in that house. Love it!

  4. anthonette

    2009-06-08 15:12:51 -0400

    wow! amazing photos. thanks for sharing. it put a big smile on my face, so beautiful

  5. Paola Norman

    2009-06-08 15:51:32 -0400

    Magnificent. That first one is so precious. It says so much.
    I'm glad you had this wonderful experience and are able to share a bit of it with us.

  6. Just B

    2009-06-08 16:18:22 -0400

    Absolutely love that last photo of Anna in black & white, but they are all wonderful. You've once again given me inspiration - I know someone that does this very same thing and with our own new addition on the way this might be a wonderful thing to plan for in the near future. Thanks Ali for sharing a completely different angle of your family's life!

  7. Katie

    2009-06-08 18:56:44 -0400

    What a treasure! I just have to tell you...your little Anna is so beautiful in each and every photo I see of her. My little girl is just a month younger than your daughter and it's fun to think about where my daughter will be in just a bit.

  8. Krista Nash

    2009-06-08 19:22:05 -0400

    Wow! Those are lovely. How fortunate to have been able to snag her. Can't wait to see the projects you do with them.

  9. Diana

    2009-06-08 20:12:57 -0400

    Amazing. Absolutely beautiful!

  10. Christina

    2009-06-09 00:12:05 -0400

    stunning. what a blessing to have someone do this!

  11. Ann

    2009-06-09 00:19:27 -0400

    Simply beautiful!

  12. Linda

    2009-06-09 01:01:36 -0400

    Thanks for sharing! Beautiful photos I love Anna on the white quilt.

  13. jakki

    2009-06-09 04:20:39 -0400

    these are achingly beautiful....

  14. michelle

    2009-06-09 04:48:34 -0400

    this is awesome... I love the chipboard... it's just fab! And Ali, your photos are just the best... sweet, sweet, baby pic... love them!! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Goddess Leonie |

    2009-06-09 13:21:32 -0400

    oh my goodness... all these photos are SO beautiful... SO filled with life and love.
    and gosh, that first one? that's just a killer. utterly heart-space :)

  16. Kristi

    2009-06-09 13:42:43 -0400

    Oh! I just love these photos so much :-) Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful family with us, Ali!

  17. jmbmommy

    2009-06-09 14:47:17 -0400

    wow...the pics of all of you are gorgeous.... Now you have got me thinking about inviting someone to take pictures of us.

  18. AnnB

    2009-06-09 16:40:27 -0400

    OMG, they're all beautiful, but that first picture almost made my weep. TFS.

  19. Charin

    2009-06-11 07:29:46 -0400

    They are gorgeous Ali!! :)

  20. Nancy Phillips

    2009-06-11 14:17:18 -0400

    These are awesome! Thanks you for once again, sharing your life with all of us.
    Nancy Phillips
    Charleston, SC

  21. Nancy Phillips

    2009-06-11 14:18:54 -0400

    These are awesome! Thanks for sharing your life with all of us.
    Nancy Phillips
    Cahrleston SC

  22. emily hope

    2009-06-11 18:22:09 -0400

    love, love, love these. thanks for giving us a peek into your beautiful family.

  23. tara pakosta

    2009-06-12 16:01:43 -0400

    I love her photos~awesome photographer!
    these are great ali!

  24. morning Dove

    2009-06-13 05:25:14 -0400

    oh my goodness, these are amazing and i love the paper butterflies hanger. thanks Anna-Marie for sharing this blog.

  25. CD Muckosky

    2009-06-17 03:32:00 -0400

    WOW, incredibly precious, what a gift to have someone come and document this special time for you guys...totally priceless

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