The Bayou

I was honored to have this photo essay of a trip back to my cajun roots with my dad and son featured on TRIAD Magazine last month. If you haven’t had a chance to spend some time over there, it would be good for your soul… promise.

I wanted to share it here as well because it has a special place in my heart and heritage.

Bayou01 Bayou02 As a kid, I can remember packing up our small flat-bottom boat with my dad for a little evening trip to the river. We would fill a small ice chest with a few Cokes, some Ritz Crackers + Cheese Wiz, and usually throw in a small fishing net for good measure. After dousing ourselves with sufficient amounts of DEET to ward off the mammoth mosquitoes that serve as armed guards for the Southeast Texas bayous, we would make the short trek down the road to the boat launch.

Within about five minutes, we would be transported to another world. Away from the hissing sounds of the highway, things are much slower on the bayou. Your senses are awakened to sounds that you rarely hear… birds screeching… dragon flies buzzing by… random fish grazing the surface of the water before plummeting back down. Water moves at a crawling pace, and if you’re lucky and patient, you’ll just may find yourself eye to eye with an alligator as it slowly peeks above the surface.

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Almost all of my family has roots in this small part of the world. An area that is soaked in culture that is intimately tied to the water.

As we would putter along in the boat, my dad always made a point of reminding me that my Great-Grandfather helped float cypress logs down those narrow canals many years ago. “Oh… and that little bayou over there… that’s where I used to come with my grandfather when I was a kid to fish. It’s amazing how some things don’t change back here”, he would say.

One of the many things I am thankful for in my life is the heritage that I have. Something deep inside my soul stirs around when I sit on the front of that little flat-bottom boat and drift through those bayous. I see the bearded cypress trees with their Spanish Moss gently moving in the wind, and I start thinking about the people that have gone before me. The ones that had similar blood running through their veins as myself and who floated along the same bayous many many years before I.

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When I brought my wife and kids back home recently, I was once again hit with this nostalgia overload. This time, it was my oldest boy wearing an oversized baseball cap helping his Papa load up that same old boat. We were careful not to leave home without the Cokes, but as people and times change, the Cheese Wiz did not make the journey.

As we began weaving around the maze of little bayous that evening, my soul was filled as I listened to my dad once again recall those same old stories to my boy, as if he was telling them for the first time. A heritage being passed down unknowingly to an eight year old from his grandfather.

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Contax 645 / Fuji 400H and Canon 1V / Kodak Portra 400 // Indie Film Lab

 

One Afternoon…

A few weeks ago, I was at home alone with this little guy while he was taking a nap and mom and brother were off doing something important. When he got up, we planted ourselves on the back porch and enjoyed the warm summer (perfect for waking up from a nap)!

He was laughing with me and having such a great time, so I decided to pull out a roll of film and just unload it in one sitting… capturing all his different faces and personality. One of the best ways I could see spending $25! Mason1

Mason2 Mason3 Mason4 Mason5Canon 1V  //  Kodak Portra 400  //  Developed by: Indie Film Lab

Colorado . 2013

We recently were able to spend a week in one of our favorite places in America… Colorado. These are the times that I feel incredibly blessed to do what I do for a living… photographing weddings in some of the most beautiful places and bringing my family along for some time away. Our goal is to book at least one wedding in Colorado every year… so tell your friends!!

We were really able to relax and reconnect during our time in the mountains near Durango, CO. From the outset, I decided that it would be best for both me and for my family if I made this an Instagram-free vacation. I moved both Instagram + Facebook to the very last screen on my phone so I wouldn’t be tempted to mindlessly click on it, and I resisted the urge to post every single photo I took of our trip for everyone to see. This was the absolutely best decision I’ve made in a long time. I was really able to be present with my family and not think about impressing people on the internet every moment of the day.

I also decided that I was going to leave behind my digital camera when we went on walks and stuff. I was armed only with my iPhone and my film camera. I haven’t sent my film off to get developed yet, but this is what was captured with my iPhone. I used VSCO CAM to shoot and edit every one of these photos right after I took them. I love this powerful photography tool that really allowed me to capture memories quickly and not spend forever behind my computer editing photos. My iPhone will now be my go-to camera on vacations!

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A Trip Back Home

Early this summer I spent a weekend back in my hometown. The more time that I am away from those roots, the more and more it seems things change. Things simply look different when you return with different eyes in a different stage of life.

One day when the kids were napping and I had some free time, I went on a little walk with one of my film cameras. One of the refreshing things about learning film is that it has forced me to take photos of things rather than people. The last thing I would want to do would be to “learn” my camera on a client’s dime. So, I’ve been taking lots of photos of plants and other non-moving objects.

I grew up just across the street from my grandparents and great-grandparents… one of the most amazing things about my childhood. I spent lots of time in their homes, in their yards and in their lives. I learned a lot about plants and gardening and being outside from the times I spent with them.

As I walked around the dense pine forests that make up our homestead, I came upon my Maw-Maw’s old green house. Of course it looks much different now… only a skeletal frame of what once was. Overtaken by vines and young trees vying for space. Many pots laid in piles on the ground, full of soil but void of life… symbolizing a passing away of more than just a few people, but a way of life.
Heritage01Heritage02Heritage03 Heritage04 Heritage05 Heritage06Canon 1V  //  Kodak Portra 400  //  Indie Film Lab

Adoption Day!

Today is August 20th.

This morning we dressed up real nice, loaded the family into our car and headed an hour away to a small town Texas court house.

Today is the day that we stood before a judge with huge smiles on our faces… hand in hand as one family… to officially make this boy our son.

Joshua Deondre Price

Although he will still go by Deondre, Sara and I wanted to give him a name that had meaning. We felt like Joshua was a good fit for him. Joshua was a man that feared God and that had many obstacles to overcome in his life… many battles to fight. He trusted the Lord through it all… and that’s our prayer for our boy too… that he would walk with the Lord through all of the trials that he may face in this life.

This past year has without a doubt been the most life changing for us. We sometimes sit on the couch at night and try to imagine what life was like those days before we had children in our house. Did we really just eat delicious food almost every night and then watch 24? How was that even possible?

We think back to those early days of him being in our home. Scared. Uncertain. Untamed. He had been through so much, and we had very little clue about what to do with this kid that all but fell from the sky into our living room. Each day brought new challenges that made us realize that we were clueless.

Today we celebrate all that God has done to get us to this place. How He has changed our hearts and placed a love deep inside of us for a boy that we did not know existed for the first 5 years of his life.

It’s really crazy to think about what we may have been doing when he was born. For me, I had just completed my sophomore year at Texas A&M, and was spending the summer working for an inner city ministry in Brenham. During those three months, the Lord really worked in my heart and gave me a love for kids from hard places. I spent many days hanging out in the projects with kiddos getting my eyes opened to the reality of what many people right in our backdoor experience day in and day out. I think my mind would have been blown if I had known that at that very moment, God was bringing a little boy into the world that would one day share my last name and call me “Daddy” instead of “Mr. Ryan”. Crazy how He works to prepare us for things in life.

Adoption isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. There are so many broken pieces that need to be mended together, and many of those pieces simply may never get the right fit. But, days like this are high points. Adoption day is a happy day for our family and we praise God that Deondre is excited about being adopted by us… although it’s still up for debate about whether he is more excited about getting to drink Coke on this day or being in our family for the rest of his life.  😐

We’re grateful for all the craziness that you bring into our family, little boy. We wouldn’t be complete without you.