There’s this photograph of my mom from when she was two or three.
She’s sitting on the front door step of the house she grew up in during the middle of a hot Alabama summer. She looks kind of like my sister but mainly like herself and, every time I look at that photograph, I can’t help but smile. There’s another photograph of my grandmother from when she was thirteen. It’s photocopied and lovingly taped into a scrapbook made by my mother and, on the white outskirts of the photograph, someone close to her once wrote the word “Tiny” – my grandmother’s nickname – to label the photograph. Maybe it was her mother or her sister or her cousin, but, on every copy of that photograph, “Tiny” is written underneath the image of my grandmother as a thirteen year old.
There’s another photograph of my dad from when he was three or four years old. He’s holding a fishing pole and proudly holding up a fish while his younger brother stands next to him. His ears stick out the exact same way they do now, his eyes look precisely the same as they do now, and the look of pure joy on his face is one I have seen hundreds of times in my life and, out of every person and every face in the world, it is one of my absolute favorite expressions.
There’s another photograph of my husband. He’s no more than three and has on red overalls on top of a white shirt and his hair is sticking up all over his head and, the first time I saw that photograph, I had absolutely no idea that I was looking at a little boy whose genes would come out so strong in my second son that, four years later, a little boy named Huck would run around my legs screaming “Mama!” looking just like his daddy did in the old photograph.
There are so many photographs that I love.
Photographs of my sister and I hanging out on family trips. Photographs of makeovers. Photographs of my siblings and I jumping up and down on Christmas morning. Photographs of my husband and I making eyes at each other in selfies before they were called selfies. Photographs of my babies on the days they were born. Photographs of ice storms that shut down our towns for two weeks. Photographs of the time I found my wedding dress. Photographs of my brother after he dominated a food challenge. Photographs on the beach and photographs in front of the houses we grew up in. Photographs of favorite shirts and late night parties and early morning sunrises and everything up and in between and all around.
I come from a family of chaos. I have five siblings, four of whom are boys. Every single person in my family is stubborn and has a strong personality and strong beliefs and, even if they seem to be quiet, they are all just chatterboxes waiting to be opened up. My family is large and loud and crazy and I am so grateful to be a part of it. Because of them, my home life has always been colorful. from the time my twelve-year-old self helped my fourteen-year-old brother shave his head while our parents were asleep to the little brothers I held on my hip as a teenager to the tug-of-clothes my sister and I were always doing to the late nights and the fact that someone was always there with (and for!) you, I come from a family of chaos.
This made me the person I am today.
I am really, really lucky. I mean, my home life? It is crazy and it is fantastic. I have two boys who love super heroes and coloring and loud imaginations (and voices!) and a husband who is writing his Master’s Thesis and holding down a normal 8:00 to 5:00 job while photographing weddings with me on weekends and being the main parent whenever he is home. We live in a two bedroom apartment full of photographs and brightly painted walls and ten different rugs and five hundred accent pieces per room and it is absolute chaos. I love it.
And that chaos and color and love? It spills into every aspect of my photography. So often, I meet others who want to control everything and, while I understand that, I absolutely love photographs that mix a bit of chaos with a whole lot of love and personality. I fell in love with photography very, very young and while it took me time to decide whether or not I wanted to photograph people for a living, I could not have made a better choice. My photography is natural and real and fun and, because of this, it becomes magical and emotive. Basically, I make happy photographs for happy people. I love it! And, most importantly, I love that I am creating photographs that, in twenty years, someone will look back on and smile over.
I don’t meant his in a narcissistic way. I mean this in the best way possible. I love photographs of my family. I love photographs of my friends. And when those photographs show a sparkle of who they are in their everyday life? Those photographs become heirlooms. I love that a photographs are tangible and that, by looking at a photograph, you are transported back to the time and place that the photograph was taken. I love photography with my whole heart and, when I photograph someone, I want them to see that love and excitement and, most importantly themselves, in their photographs.
People are messy. They are emotional and creative and fun and boring and loud and quiet and talkative and colorful and all over the map. What I love about photography is that no photograph is ever the same. Everyone brings their own brand of personality and chaos to a photograph and, to me, that makes every photograph brim with excitement and love. I love photography because it’s about people. I love capturing people as they are and, as I am writing this, I just feel enormously grateful that I am able to have the career that I have and love so much.
So! To all those who have supported and believed in me! Thank you!! From the very bottom of my heart. I cannot say it sincerely enough! Thank you for allowing me to live this crazy, chaotic, and absolutely wonderful life- a life documented with photographs of my husband and our boys and our family and photographs of my family and strangers and clients and clients who turn friends and all of the people who have supported this business (and passion!) of mine without batting an eye. Y’all are awesome.
And because no post is complete without a photograph and I because have been slacking on my daily photographs and because I never, ever share photographs of myself with y’all, here’s two of me sporting a flower crown (tutorial for this baby coming soon!). Also, my husband took these and I am the most awkward person in front of the camera, ever, so, between you and me, there were definitely some death glares and laughing fits (on both our parts!) between the first and last photograph.
* Lissa Chandler is a creative portrait and wedding photographer in Northwest Arkansas who specializes in senior portrait and wedding photography. Lissa is known for creative, personality-driven, and happy senior portrait and wedding photography in Northwest Arkansas and currently lives in Fayetteville with her family: a husband with the cutest smile, a four year old who saw King Tut yesterday (and totally made his mom jealous!), and a one year old who is really into dumping crayons. Lissa is currently booking 2015 Seniors, late 2014 and 2015 weddings in Fayetteville, Bentonville, Siloam Springs, Rogers, Springdale, and all of NWA. She is available for wedding work nationwide. *