The best images are pure expressions of emotion. For one of Dallas' leading portrait artists, an unstaged encounter with crayons and food takes the cake.

Judy Nordseth is an accomplished portrait photographer; the Empty Nesters got to know Judy through her generous volunteering of time and talent to J.J. Pearce High School. You can see some of her fine work and arrange for that long-overdue family portrait here. When I asked Judy for a picture important to her, I was expecting a beautifuly-lit masterpiece, taken with one of her fancy lenses. Instead, I got something much better.

This is Edie, one of Judy’s four grandchildren. Edie’s babysitter snapped the picture with her phone. Judy loves the photograph for the way it perfectly expresses Edie’s personality, full of joy and mischief at the same time. There is even more story in the details. At first glance you assume Edie was on a chocolate binge. Actually, she was scarfing down black beans, one of her favorite foods. And take a look at the crayon chalk pencils. Edie needed to try them all, leaving them in a happy trail behind her.

Looking at the picture reminded me of all the times M’Lissa and I came upon our kids and their messes. As a parent, often a stressed and tired parent, the reaction was almost always geared to the future. “We need to get this cleaned up” or “she needs to learn to take care of her things.” I think one of the joys of being a grandparent will be the ability to see the messy moments in the present, understanding the joy behind the smile. The author Gary Jennings might have said it best:

“…to be a child, to be a child! To have the roads and the days all stretching out forward and upward and away.”

— Gary Jennings

Thanks Judy and most of all, thanks Edie.

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