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1988. I’m standing in a dark room, lit by a red hue. Eleven, freckles, bangs and swatch-watch. It’s the final stage of the developing process. I’m doubtful. It’s my first time and I’m certain I’m the kid who’s done it wrong. I’m looking at blank paper in a liquid solution and all common sense tells me this is not how you make a photograph. But then in some kind of black magic, my little sisters squinty scrunched up toddler face fills my first 8×10. I was hooked.

It’s important to me that I don’t just get the great family shots, but that I get real family shots. That’s what I seek. Real life portraits. They happen in between the organized ones. I get to see how a family relates, father to mother, mother to child, child to child, and capture those details that epitomize them.

I recently found that first 8×10 in a box at my mothers house. My little sister, now my adult sister. I couldn’t articulate it at the time but it wasn’t just the process that cast its spell on me. It was the magic the photo held. Squinting, nose scrunched pushing up her toddler cheeks; the epitome of my obsession with her, preserved in film. Forever.

The foundation was laid by the woman who named me when she put a ‘J’ in my name. Sending me on an eternal quest to seek out that something that seems out of place but is exactly where it should be. The unfamiliar amongst the familiar, the perfect imperfection. The idiosyncrasy that epitomizes that person, couple, family, moment. It’s in my DNA, it’s in my name. Kjrsten.