I never believed in love at first sight until last week. I met the Werth family through my boss, who is a family friend of theirs. They have two children – Charlie, 12, and Olive, 4. After Charlie was born in 2001, Katie and Andy tried for several years to have another child, to no avail. However, another friend of theirs was a fertility doctor and agreed to help them with treatments and ultimately helped them conceive Olive. During Katie’s pregnancy, they learned that their baby would be born with Down syndrome. Despite the shock, they embraced the news and have continued to do so as Olive grows. She is a bubbly, creative little girl that will capture your heart with a single glance.
The thought of starting my final project for my capstone photo class was daunting. I love shooting sports because I’m able to stay in my own, little comfort zone. I can refer to a roster or a stats sheet for caption information. I don’t have to interact with people on an intimate level. For this project, I was terrified because I knew that I couldn’t sit back and coldly photograph a story. But when I met Olive, I knew that there would be no problem at all for me to change my tune. The Werth family was fantastic and practically adopted me into their family for a week – leaving the doors unlocked for me to show up whenever I wanted, including me in family time and even taking me out for my first Booche’s experience after I finished my final day of college classes. They made it easy for me to step out of my comfort zone and ask personal questions, dive deeper into their story. I couldn’t have asked for a better family to work with for my final story. They were so open and lovely that the story made itself. I felt incredibly lucky at the end of shooting to have been able to be a part of their lives.
The hardest thing, once I was done, was editing the photos down to a number that wasn’t ridiculously huge. After falling in love with Olive and her spirit, it was hard to detach myself from so many frames. Thankfully, I attend a program full of talented photographers and was able to use my peers’ editing skills to help boost mine. I really wanted to show Olive’s inquisitive, happy nature and show that while she’s “different” she’s really just like any other 4 year old. I could have made a million different edits, but this one is the one that I finally came to, to turn in. I hope you enjoy it.