Grief and photography

August 31, 2013 was the last time I held my camera. It was also the day that my mother passed away while I was sitting next to her bed. I’m not sure when I took my camera bag and placed it behind a chair in my bedroom, but thats where it was when Pearl “Naturalhairdeva” Walker-Ali asked me about it today. I hadn’t really thought about it until that moment. I had to be very aware of my actions when I did it. I have to believe that I had a good reason for placing the one thing that has ignited my passion for the past three years behind a chair where it could not be seen. Almost in a place where it could be out of sight and out of mind.

Photography is my creative outlet, my stress relief, and my passion. For the past three years, I have shot more than I even care to admit to. I role play with photography. I am the stylist, I have been the hair stylist, have made dresses with pins and belts, I have done make-up (YIKES), I have been the creative director, the assistant, and anything else that I felt needed to the done to achieve what I saw in my head. Photography is food. Photography is breathing. Photography is….my LIGHT.

Back to my conversation with Pearl….

When talking with a more mature Queen, I am always ready for the knowledge and love that they are eager to share and teach. Today was a huge lesson for me. My grief doesn’t have a time limit. This I know, but because I feel that I can’t pick up my camera to the point that I hid it says a lot to me. Pearl suggested that if I couldn’t touch the camera that I ask my daughter to touch it first. She instructed me to have Kyla to place my camera next to a picture of my mother and allow time to heal and I would be drawn to the camera again. Profound? Yes!!! Where did this come from? Why did she tell me to do this? How does she know that this practice will help me? It had to come from a place deep in history. A place with ancestral roots and spiritual roots. I asked Kyla to take my camera bag into the spare bedroom and place my mothers picture on top of the bag. For some reason anxiety that I had no clue was there seemed to ease. I exhaled.

I’m not really sure when I will be drawn back to my cameras, but I am sure that while I’m healing my mother is protecting my passion for photography and building a cocoon of love on it until I’m ready; Setting the stage for the perfect LIGHT!




  1. Yolanda Little | 17 Sep 2013 at 7:09 am | Reply

    This is so beautiful and touching. I cannot begin to IMAGINE the pain you are feeling. All I can do is offer my condolences to you. I was just thinking about you because I wanted to so family photos with my siblings and my mother. I wanted something different from the norm and you automatically popped into my mind. I have watched from afar your growth and your creativity and I love it. I admire you for stepping out there once you discovered your passion. It is very clear that photography is your calling. Just as I was about to contact you via FB, I saw the link to this. Whenever you are ready to pick that camera up again, know that we, your fans, are waiting with bated breath to one again witness the genius of the Goddess. Much love

    • Erica Dunlap | 17 Sep 2013 at 8:31 am | Reply

      This brought me to tears. I really appreciate the support from you all. Thank you so much. It means a lot.

  2. Nicka Smith | 17 Sep 2013 at 10:26 am | Reply

    When you’re ready to fly again, I’ll be right in the air with you. The sky is the limit :)

  3. Theresa Brantley | 17 Sep 2013 at 12:52 pm | Reply

    Crying as I type. I can’t profess to know/understand/grasp the pain you are feeling. They say time heals all wounds, but time seems to stop when the wounds are so very deep. I pray for you daily, I pray that you and Kyla will form an even deeper bond. Light your LIGHT shine, even though it might be a little dim. I love you!!!

  4. Sara Prada | 17 Sep 2013 at 10:41 pm | Reply

    I can’t begin to even imagine your pain. When I lost my Grandmother two years ago, something inside of me turned off. I felt like a shell going through my daily routines empty. I remember not being able to touch my camera, the idea of doing family sessions made me feel sick. I was so angry and bitter. It didn’t take a day, a week, or a month to “heal” these wounds. It simply took time, a unmeasurable amount of time. I think what helped the most besides the love of friends and family, was going through the hundreds of photos my Grandmother left us. I discovered another side of her through those images, and I realized that a passion for photography and travel was something we shared. You are a beautiful and talented woman, who has blessed this world with your gifts. I know that your Mother was a wonderful woman because she raised an amazing daughter. She may not be here in body, but her Spirit is with you and your daughter, loving you through the pain of her absence

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