Everything Beautiful Has an Ugly Side | Medical, Grief, and Bereavement Photography

April 27, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Ugly isn't a word I like to use, especially as a photographer. Beauty exists in all things, and I'm coming to believe it's only because of these awkward, painful, or ugly moments that we can come to appreciate and see the loveliness that comes from them.

The magnolia trees are in full bloom. Gorgeous.

And look! There's an ugly part.

The brown, wilted bit around the flower has served its purpose. It protected the bud as it grew. When the bud grew large enough and opened, the humble protectors fell aside.

Many people would call them ugly. They would probably want to trim them or otherwise keep them out of view in a photograph.

These essential parts of the flower are ventilators. They are the rages in locked cars where no one else can hear the screaming. They are weekly visits for treatment. They are the heaving sobs that give no tears because there are no more tears to give.

The brown, wilted bit is grief. It's adversity. It's the thousand pieces of really crummy things.

It's a little space we keep for ourselves because we need it to allow the flower to bloom. Sometimes it's a really big space. Sometimes we can see only the wilted protection, even though others admire the gorgeous flower. It's tricky that way.

Every flower on the magnolia tree does this. Each flower is a slightly different size. They bloom at slightly different times. Some may be more pink than others. Each passes through this ugly bit to reveal its loveliness.

You are doing this, too.

The pieces of your day that seem tedious hold lovely bits. In those moments you feel full of anger and despair, there is something beautiful. It's my work to see that and show it to you, just like this magnolia.

The more you see it with a little help, the more you can begin to see it yourself. As much as I say medical, bereavement, and grief photography is about preserving family history, it's also about supporting families who are hurting today. It's painful to see these moments reflected back to you from someone else's perspective. It's also a way to recognize how much loveliness exists in unexpected places.


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