I dropped my 3 yr old daughter Vega off at her daycare this morning. I had expected the 15 minute car ride there to be a battle, it has been the other two days this week. She’s been generally irritable and anti-dad for a few weeks now, I haven’t been able to do anything right. Deep down, I know it’s just a phase she’s going through but despite this, I’ve felt quite raw about it. My frustrations, hurt and sadness about the rejection are so close to the top, I feel as if it will only take the slightest of nudges for it to all come pouring out. Our 4.30am wakeup this morning definitely wasn’t going to help and getting into the car was laced with trepidation and a sense of here-we-go-again. Because of this, the totally uneventful – and you might even say – enjoyable car trip was a surprise. We arrived, she had a look inside the kinder room where the big kids are, then a quick look and wave to the babies before finally walking into her own room with the other toddlers. She walked to one of the educators with a big smile and for the very first time in nearly 2.5 yrs of daycare, waved to me as I left. My heart melted there and then – what is such a small gesture helped me reconnect and put all of the hurt and sadness aside. Vega is our daughter and she is the most beautiful and loved thing in Kristen and my lives. She is the one who gives it meaning and she’s the one we are here for. That wave from her tiny hands emptied my giant bucket of sadness there and then.
I’ve spoken before about wanting to make a transition away from doing so many weddings – not so much because I don’t enjoy it, in fact it is the opposite – but simply because I want to be more present in Vega’s life. I want to be able to spend time with her and to take her to dancing, soccer, music lessons, friend’s parties or whatever it may be that she’s doing. So this post and what I’m doing is the proper start of that transition.
For the last 18 months or so, I’ve been expending my horizons photographing families, architecture and making images to support small businesses and creators to promote their work and ideas. I’ve come to really appreciate the variety in my work, and my ability to work during the week while Vega is at daycare so when she’s not, I’m there with her. Kristen and I joke that we’re in a never-ending battle to see who can be the housewife/househusband, both of us would love to be at home with Vega, creating a beautiful clean sanctuary to live in (the contrasting present arrangement is perhaps the true motivator for this) and proper home cooked meals every night that don’t consist of a base of simply rice/pasta/noodles.
I remember what things were like when I first started out as a photographer. I knew that photographing weddings was what I loved doing but had no idea that I would be a part of such a strange industry contrary to so many of my values – I’ve spoken about this a lot before. Kristen, as always, was the one who helped my construct the fabric of my practice and the way I would participate within the world of weddings. It became a matter telling people who I was and how I would be a part of their celebration and from there, my people would then come to me and the ones who weren’t so much of a good fit for me would feel the same hesitation about me. It felt like this was the best way to attract like minded people and to push away ones who don’t understand who I am and what I do.
The way it actually panned out was a little more complicated and adventurous with lots of ups and a few downs sprinkled through but ultimately, it’s where I have ended up. Some of my best friends are people whose weddings I have photographed and in doing so, I’ve not only been able to find lifelong friendships, but been able to build my business and livelihood at the same time. I absolutely adore photographing weddings and I’d like to think I’m pretty good at it now so if that’s what you’d like me to do for you, you can know that I’m 100% committed and excited for it. I’m somewhere near 250 weddings now so my instincts are pretty well honed and the energy and thrill of the day is part of the joy I take away each time.
So here I am, 8 years into being an accomplished and well regarded wedding photographer. In a way, this is the problem – this is all my photographic world has been. If you look at my website, my social media and the relationships I’ve built, it’s all been around weddings. I’ve fallen into a box of reputation and recognition and am slowly crawling my way out, grasping for opportunities and an ability to show people what I can do. When I started this photography thing, I had no idea if I’d make it – this time around it’s different. I know that my other world is out there, my people are out there, I just haven’t connected with them yet. I know there are people who want their kids photographed, people who have an idea which will make the world a better or more enjoyable place and others who are creating things to spark wonder, joy and fascination. So this post is for you and it comes with a warm encouragement to get in touch. I’ve always considered myself more than “just” a wedding photographer at a wedding (check out some of the kind words people have left for me to see what I mean), so I won’t change that when I am photographing other things. I’ll chat with you, help you workshop ideas if you need but most importantly, I’ll make whatever you’re doing look awesome.
Ultimately, all of these words mean a simple thing – starting with this post, I’m re-branding. I’ll still be Lakshal Perera – Photographer of Awesome Stuff but what you’ll see will be different. My website already features the other work I do but I’m resetting my social media to help me breakout of my typecast. I’ll be sharing photos of everything I love and photograph, and for the people new to me and what I do, it will hopefully give you an idea of my visual language and aesthetic. So as I said, get in touch, let’s have a conversation and find out what we can do together, I hope it’s great things. If you’re excited and passionate about whatever you want photographed, let’s get crackin’.
I’m on my way to pick up Vega again, we’ve got the evening together because Kristen is out. I’ll make sure I hold her dearly and give her every ounce of my patience and understanding despite everything. She’ll be tired and grumpy from a very early start and a big week, but no amount of tantrums or boundary pushing will make our lives with her feel less than truly complete. I’m really looking forward to seeing her.