My family really hit one out of the park this Christmas. They gave me a book - a real, bound book - of my own photographs.
They raided my hard drive and my Flickr account and spent hours together sifting through thousands of photos and choosing their favorites. Then they worked together on the layout of each page and paired many shots with poetry from everyone from Shel Silverstein and Ogden Nash to Cookie Monster.
And as if that weren't enough, this is what they wrote in the front fold of the dust jacket:
The irony of the thing is that at that time I had pretty much put aside my cameras and given up on photography. It was a combination of frustration with the complex new camera and discouragement with never getting exactly the shot I intended. They could always be sharper, better framed, taken from a better angle ... just better. And I couldn't seem to do better.
I lost my mojo. Where once I had found inspiration in everything from a dead leaf to the water heater timer, nothing moved me anymore. I was so done with it that I was on the verge of deleting every photo I had ever taken.
And then, this. This wonderful gift. Not just the book itself, but of the care and time and effort and love they put into it. I was humbled and flattered that they thought my photos worthy of such a project - and a little embarrassed that they kept carrying it off to show around to coworkers and family. They were all so proud of it, and justifiably so.
I had never seen any of my work printed. I was shocked to see that most of the shots were really not so bad. And some were pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.
So I'm back. Still cussing and fussing from time to time, but back out there with a camera in my hand.
Along with that book, and all that love, they rescued a part of myself that was about to curl up and die. Now that's a gift.