Creating smiles on both sides of the camera

What does a portrait mean to a Mother?

“I’m poor but I’m rich!”  She exclaims!  “I’ve got kids that are awesome, and you know, I don’t need a lot of money, I don’t need all that stuff, money doesn’t mean a lot to me, this is what means a lot to me.” Carrie is practically glowing as she shares her story with me. She has been to many of our events, she approaches me with a big hug, her smile is contagious.

Carrie is very excited to get her family’s portrait taken, to have some photos of her precious kids, of herself and of them all together as a family. They pose together, smiling what could only be genuine smiles. Two of the kids hold their dogs who are obviously part of the family as well.

When they are finished I ask if she would be willing to share her story with me. She is delighted to. We find a place to sit together. It is clear to me that Carrie and her kids are close and they interact in a loving playful way while I sit and talk with her. The boys wrestling, the daughter sitting close to her mother. Why did you decide to get your picture taken today? I ask. “I don’t get a lot of pictures of my kids, a lot of the stuff that I had got ruined” she says. She tells me they came to Oregon to start a new life, that she had been in an abusive marriage for 14 years and finally decided she wanted to give her children a different life. Her brother had suggested they move from Ohio to Oregon, but when she got to Oregon she realized he had some serious drugs problems and things didn’t work out. They found themselves without any money, without a home and without anyone to turn to. She has since made friends in the community and says that they can usually find somewhere to stay.

There is something very energizing about Carrie. She is very expressive and loving in the way she interacts with people.She’s so excited about life it makes me stop and reflect on my own life blessings and what I might be taking for granted. She tells me that she doesn’t need much. She says, “I’ve got the love of my kids” Though she says of course she would love to have a house it’s not the most important thing in life, “we’re living in a garage but we’re happy.”


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