The dictionary definition of a MUSE is "a person who is a source of artistic inspiration". And you Cash, are most definitely that for me. You were just over a year old when I picked up photography again and as my first child, quickly became my ultimate inspiration and favorite subject to capture. Not only that, you were really good at it. So good in fact that we had you modeling before you were walking. You scored a couple of jobs with Joe Fresh and Macy's and it was cool seeing your first paycheck when you were just 13 months old (less cool was the money we owed the IRS at the end of the year!) -- but I soon realized I'm not cut out to be a modeling mom. Too much schlepping around the city (with a stroller and bottles and diapers and a bag packed for any type of emergency), followed by too much waiting around, and ultimately too much commitment. I just couldn't do it. And that was before Grey came along. I definitely couldn't drag both of you to a daylong go-see. Instead of mugging for an agency or kids clothing catalog, you looked into my lens over the years and as I delved deeper into my photography -- taking classes online and forming a photography network of women and fellow mothers -- you grew alongside me. Looking back now, I see the awesomeness of how it all transpired and have you to thank. What's most awesome though, is that even now, five years later, you remain my consummate model.
Once you got a little older, not only did you take my direction but you gave back what I like to call "good game face". While we were shooting these photos somewhere in midtown, a photographer noticed your "game face" and crossed the street to observe us. He quietly watched for a bit before saying, "Wow - your mother is very lucky. A good model, a great smile, and clothes that match the background..." And he's right. I couldn't ask for anything more. You have always been there to inspire me, and this seems especially so whenever I'm in a creative rut. In fact, I was in a bit of a doldrum before this very shoot. I hadn't been motivated to pick up my camera in awhile (winter tends to do that) until suddenly spring's warm weather arrived. "Cash, let's do a photo shoot on our walk to swim class. It's supposed to be a beautiful day." You were totally up for it, and just like that, as you so often do, you lit a fire to my creativity and left me with a gallery of bold, cosmic and totally boss street-style pictures.
Having lived in New York for almost twenty years, it's no secret I'm drawn to the city's energy, and now, raising you and Grey here, I love capturing you guys within it. A close friend once described me as our family's "Documenter of LOVE" which I think pretty accurately sums it up. You have been such a joy to photograph over these years, changing your looks and expressions to suit your age and present mood. Nowadays you like to show off your "cool dude" side, putting your hat backwards and making a grill face. I laugh at the foreshadowing of "teenager Cash" - at times thinking you are one already - and hope that when that time does roll around, we'll still hit the streets to take some cool photos.
Daddy can't believe I let you hold my mamma-jamma camera, but I do. You've shown more than a playful interest in photography and I'm thrilled to be able to share it with you. This day, we talked a bit about shooting in open shade versus direct sunlight and about finding interesting textures and colors which led us to these bold graffiti walls. Always careful not too overwhelm you or bore you -- my hope is that tidbits of knowledge will sink in and who knows, might influence the way in which you visualize the world around you.
Whenever we stumble upon interesting pockets of light, you'll often point them out to me, confirming that you are learning the first rule of photography. You do that a lot, especially when we see the sun rising up early in the morning over Harlem. "Mom, look at that light! You should take a picture!"
If we're not taking photos, we're probably somewhere listening to music. On the subway, we share headphones; one earbud for you, one for me, sitting closely so they don't fall out.
When we walk down the street we usually play music at full volume from my phone. Our current playlist has a heavy rotation of Prince and here you are dancing to "Let's Go Crazy" (your favorite of his songs!) -- wearing purple no less. I'm fairly certain The Purple One, may he rest in peace, would be proud.
My son Cash, my consummate model and muse, thank you for your endless inspiration. May you always seek the interesting, the unique, the bold and the colorful. May you be inspired by pockets of light and golden sunrises and may your soul be moved by music in ways that make you get up and dance wherever you are.
I love you son,
Always & forever,