It turns out the days of wine and roses require neither.

I want to say this was beautiful.

But I also need to say it was really us.

Us in the hallowed space of a deep breath. Us between the beats. Us in the hoping, in expectancy, in trust that ‘ok’ happens no matter what.

In the same quiet space as ‘thank you’.

Next to love, brushing arms with disappointment, with acceptance and it’s loose arms around my neck.

All of us in the waiting room, ready for the crack of light at the opening door.

{all images iphone}

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next is NYC with Kara May

  • What a beautiful day you had together. I have missed visiting. Today I had a few moments to visit my favorite artists, and you know you are right at the top of the list!

    (August 26, 2014 at 1:57 pm)
  • Ingrid says:

    I can’t tell you enough. Xxoo

    (June 20, 2014 at 8:09 pm)
  • Summer says:

    Has anyone told you lately that you create magic? :) You do. I always have to look twice at your images Amy. wow.

    (June 20, 2014 at 7:50 am)
  • Kara May says:

    These are fantastic. You have serious talent. Love your posts!

    (June 18, 2014 at 10:07 am)
  • Kelsey says:

    beautiful as always. so glad you shared this week. xo

    (June 18, 2014 at 6:54 am)
  • Sarah C says:

    I just don’t even know what to say, Amy. You leave me speechless in the best of ways imaginable. Each image is truly magical. I am completely in awe of you and your heart.

    (June 17, 2014 at 5:05 pm)
  • Each and everyone of your photos is so magical. I love all your amazing use of light, so so beautiful!

    (June 17, 2014 at 3:59 pm)
  • [...] go see what beauty Amy Grace of A Beautiful Life Photo’s month brings…her post’s always make me stop, breathe a bit deeper, and look a bit [...]

    (June 17, 2014 at 11:53 am)
April 14, 2014 in personal



layers of you, tiniest scribbles on paper i made, folded again and again upon itself. the days touching the memories, the things you said, the sketches of your soft face, graphite rubbing off in a blur of you. but who needs the details written with precision. i don’t. you are a wave that swallows me. at any moment there are a million places to start and trace the map of you. reminders everywhere, the hairs on my skin standing up at the comfort you find in it. the warm i never knew existed in spirit. that babies are forever babies. when they are building the world all by themselves, when they only look back a few times a year. if it comes to this, i will always be waiting behind you.

when you are four, you will jump off the crumbling roof of our house, onto the mountain. you will jump into the sky without even growing wings. you will be a huge boy but still little at night. you tell me these plans. you are all tenderness. i would turn myself into a cocoon and never speak again if you needed it. you are the beginning and end of me. four is huge but still little. four will be as safe and as brave as i can show you you are.

you ask me to wait with you in the car. when the engine stops its hum and you can be one with yours. “i’m writing a song in my mind. shhhh.” and just like that you have quieted my demons, halted my inner peace deficiency. the way you demanded it when you demanded me, tiny and howling and new.

you saw a mural in berkeley, and told me “i could cry because that could break my heart.” the beauty of it. the depth and newness of you, braided so loosely, wisps flying away. and when you draw your pictures. you are lost and found and focused like a man, on a dream of somewhere else. like me. “this is heaven. where people who are dead can go to sleep. and there are tornadoes of colors that grow to be other things…”

“i want to be everywhere,” you tell me. you are in every cell of me, of everyone who loves you, and in the stardust from whence you came. i love you so much that everyone who knows us must secretly think i am certifiable. singular devotion, you have it, from me, from your sister. crazy love. we will sing it to you everyday, forever. we will be moved, together. we will try our hardest for you. we will worry and watch and hope and let you find your way. you will sweetly demand it.





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 Deanna McCasland is a master storyteller who knows light and love like no one’s business.

  • Ingrid says:

    Oh did I miss this. What a beautiful loving tribute to your beautiful loving boy. This made me’s simply love. It’s apparent here from every angle of every single photograph. From the beauty in your every warm moment spotted here. I love this..deeply do.

    (April 25, 2014 at 4:11 pm)
  • There is so much emotion that can be felt in everyone of these images. I just love your work and your kids are so beautiful!

    (April 20, 2014 at 11:18 am)
  • Summer says:

    so much soul Amy Grace…really and truly. You get straight to my heart every time

    (April 18, 2014 at 11:57 am)
  • rebecca says:

    beautiful boy. beautiful heart.

    (April 15, 2014 at 4:10 pm)
  • Roxanne says:

    your images take me to another world. like getting lost in a dream and never wanting to wake up. you are one with your sweet children. i feel the love pouring thru the screen. a wave i cannot escape. every.single.time. words and images. you amaze me. xoxoxox

    (April 15, 2014 at 1:23 pm)
  • Kara May says:

    Wow! Your words coupled with these images are absolutely amazing. True talent.

    (April 14, 2014 at 5:01 pm)


March 25, 2014 in personal

my forever girl,


it isn’t a milestone. stones are as different as the memories we gather. it is you. yours. it is the string of days you made magic. the mother you conjured from air. the love the world cannot help. stroking your buttery baby forehead to sleep, breathless. the times you were the only crack of light to my dark. the way you taught yourself before we could get to you. the moment your drawings passed mine, at seven. the buildings born from your mind to paper, that i believe in the future. the way you read with every sense. the way nothing you say is irrelevant. the way your walk is more than a dance. the way you LOVE. it is every detail of you, the chords and quirks and possibilities. oh, sweet girl, what is it that i have to say to you? that you make me notice, that it is now, it is our past, it is something i held but have forgotten, it is…everything. as you are.

this is what every deep in love mother feels. distilled. every breath is new. a miracle to which we forget to bow down. then, struck by lightning when we stand up forgetting, burning to our core.

you ride your scooter around in the loop of our crazy, broken in pieces house. every time around, a year, a stab, a wave of your breeze. never still, always inner still. just like the infant you were. serenity in motion. you force anything into making sense. unarmed but impossible to refuse. the gentlest and most powerful person i know.

you are seeing me be such a human being these days. missing nothing, forgiving every swing cut through the air. your eyes get bigger, dilated like the moon, and you can see in my dark. even when we are hints of shadows we only need to reach out our fingers at night. across the seam of the two mattresses in our improvised bedroom. know that i know this is all a perfect wave receding: it will pull us under, another will come, a new shape, a different curve, and wash us on to a new place down the shore. i already imagine looking for our blanket, shielding my eyes against the salty sun, wondering how everything can move when we seem to stand still.

the world changes with our feet planted in the sand. so better to run along with it, trying to beat the train against all reason. you prove it to me, against MY reason. my reason that is so tangled in worries and past and knowledge that things go south faster than our next breath.

but things rise out of dark soil, too. you did. you leaped. you bloomed. you changed the color of my time here. it is all dusk, it is all bearable, it is all pure. i believe again in the new day you bring. i can smell its heavy blossoms in the wet air.

i loved you first.





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sara tegman is a beautiful mother and friend. her letter follows mine…

  • Kirsty says:

    What a beautiful, yet unsteady time – seeing things purely and yet knowing the depth in things

    (April 20, 2014 at 12:48 am)
  • Ingrid says:

    Oh Amy. Ten. She is seeing you as a human being. I understand that perfectly. Can you picture her reading this again 10 years from now..then add another 10 and another. I predict tears and a full heart. Absolutely heartwarming.

    (March 26, 2014 at 9:31 am)
  • Lori says:

    Distilled. Yes. What a perfect word.
    I can feel your heart here, just perfection… your photos of her being that light in that darkness. Amazing as always.

    (March 25, 2014 at 7:16 pm)
March 10, 2014 in personal


i am learning from newness. as much as i fight it blindfolded, as much as i rifle through memory and maps and photo albums in closets, to remember how i am supposed to react. to act. to be. we are imprinted with years of particular appetites and joys. sad stories and successes. it is what makes us. but also what makes us tired. old tracks get grooves. and there is so much stillness in the big world outside our loops and circuits and networks.

my god, have i needed the stillness. it has taken thirty six years of chasing my imaginary tail and sneaking dreaded glances in reflective surfaces. measuring what cannot be measured. checking in and checking out of exactly where i am. in whatever new way comes my way.

so i am turning off more things with switches. making music with real voices. loving my voice again. committing the songs to memory. scribbling them in pencil on grocery lists. passing them down, one day to the the next. putting down the plans for an album. making sure there is enough quiet inside my skull to hear what is real and what is not. choosing my mirrors wisely. and breathe. and listen. and repeat.

we get outside to feel small and whole. we remember we are animals full of blood, hunger, and longing. why is it that they feel the biggest when we see how tiny they are?

the antidotes i find are the ones i held in my hand all along. in this case, they are two actual hands, belonging to two living poems. who stroke and twist my rapunzel hair at night, with a softness that has a heartbeat, as i listen to everything they will tell me.

balancing worries and gratitude, bills and drop offs, the wondering and the yes, what i want to but cannot change. and missing the time as i sit, thick in it. all the weighing and measuring and following directions. the trading of thoughtfulness for being heard. the full plate with portions we scrape around. what happens when we clear it, for right here and now? because it is all just shifting light. even the dragons. especially the dragons.

{all pictures are iphone. the irony is not lost}


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Summer Murdoch is a wonderful storyteller and artist. surrounded by scenery that matches her gifts.

  • kari says:

    These are magical. Especially love the sword darting around the corner.

    (June 11, 2014 at 5:27 am)
  • rowe says:

    so much thought provoking truth in what you have written amy! im constantly looking for peacefulness and stillness… ive been thinking lately, all it takes is switching off from all the outside distractions cause the stillness is right in front of us just waiting to be seen!

    (March 16, 2014 at 6:12 pm)
  • Summer says:

    Especially the dragons…:) Like a dream Amy…every last one of them just makes me want to linger and look longer…and that is really something in this world where we are bombarded with images. Such vision you have. xo

    (March 11, 2014 at 3:57 pm)
  • Roxanne says:

    Amy Grace. You are the kind of magic I want to drink til I can drink no more. This. The images, the words. They’ve been floating about in my brain since I read them 4 hours ago. Thank you for never holding back. I learn so much from all you give. And I am so grateful.

    (March 10, 2014 at 4:59 pm)
  • I love how you see the world.
    You are one of my favorites.
    You can’t hide a beautiful spirit. It is in every image. : )

    (March 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm)
  • kelsey says:

    ooohhhhh i love those double exposures. so much beauty (you and your boy…… xo).

    (March 10, 2014 at 1:21 pm)
  • Breanna says:

    you prove the camera doesn’t matter, you capture beauty that resonates deep, & your words, they always get me <3

    (March 10, 2014 at 1:07 pm)
  • Ingrid says:

    Constantly in awe of the images you shoot from your heart. These are absolutely beautiful. Your words resonate truths..and these images are so full of beauty and warmth, wonder & heart. Love each and every one of these.

    (March 10, 2014 at 1:06 pm)
February 9, 2014 in personal


we are swimming in the changes.

last july, we decided to put our house on the market. a spontaneous and years in the making decision, that cracked our too tight shells and started us rolling, as a family, for better or worse, picking up new stories and layers, moving forward, around, in circles. the kids and i flew to the east coast, to spend a summer we had been dreaming about, with my parents. and within a week the house was sold and we were in this fuzzy, present, salt on our skin, memory on our tongues kind of limbo that we all wished would stretch out infinitely. it was that simple. it was completely suspended. it had me confused about time, purpose, even my age some days. caught between parallel stages in life, time looping around on itself, being the mother in this same place i had spent sticky, happy summers as a kid with my brother, as a bursting at the seams, wild teenager, the nights opened up like a book i should write in blood and sweat.

each day was a step closer to the next dangling decision. everything was pulling us to a starting over place. i left berkeley almost twenty years ago, but smoky spirals of me had never gone from that beautiful, foggy bay. and so we decided what we knew we would decide. from across the country we wrestled with dreams and money like they were pieces of the same puzzle. until our heads nearly exploded with hope and impossibility trying to share a space. i am still amazed we found common ground with them. the messy scene at the end of the tunnel was found under some incredible light.

so here we are. san francisco called and we tapped every reserve to come. in a town that feels like a home, but is new at every turn. the happy ending that is laced with so many threads of reality. the way it is in life. the way every single day of our lives is: a mix of the image and its negative, of joy and struggle. we have missing walls, but our limbs are intact. termites and rats are having to share this place with us. we wake them up with our dancing and singing and forever ad-libbing chatter. we share a bedroom, which is only that because of our mattresses on the floor. and this sharing of rituals and books at night, sleep sounds and bad dreams, suitcase closets and a single dresser, stuffed animals and one mama between them…it is maybe the closest and most exquisite thing i can remember.

there is watching them behave with a brave and open grace, and then there is feeling myself let go of all expectations. it is turning frustration into patience. with my marriage, with the terror and relief jig that money has us dance, with the absolute final straw thrown out the window about what our life should look like, the prettiness, the furniture, the way we dress it up. and then there is the way patience turns to gratitude. this is how it happens. there is no magic formula, no transformation of lives, no constant stream of outward joy. it is a quiet turn, a together turn, a made up of a thousand tiny pieces turn. as if it were all done to a music. like our hearts can only follow its beat.

all this beautiful, scary newness. it is so low on the pain scale. this is us distilled. i will drink it straight.

(all images are from my iPhone. which seems to somehow fit…)



























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Wendy VonSossen is a lovely friend who makes lovelier images of her family and life…

  • alyssa says:

    so many beautifuuuuul shots.

    (March 16, 2014 at 8:32 pm)
  • These are absolutely stunning, as are your words. I found your blog through Shelby Brakken’s…How on earth do you take those multi-exposure shots with your iPhone? They are delightful. I’d be so delighted if you might share some tips!

    (March 6, 2014 at 2:55 pm)
  • your talent is big and beautiful! woosh! FABULOUS YOU! X

    (February 26, 2014 at 3:14 am)
  • Adam Ward says:

    I don’t know which I love more your photos or your words. Beautiful work.

    (February 17, 2014 at 3:05 am)
  • Nic says:

    What an exquisite piece of writing, and I wholehearted agree, your iphone images are ridiculous! In such a great way x

    (February 13, 2014 at 8:42 pm)
  • Heather Robinson says:

    Amy, I have loved your work for so long. You are out of this world talented. These photographs are my absolute new favorites of yours. So wildly good.

    (February 13, 2014 at 7:20 pm)
  • el says:

    Just amazing, Amy. What a brave and courageous decision it is to follow your heart, even though we all seem to think it should be easy. Its invigorating to my soul to read your words and see your beautiful images.

    (February 13, 2014 at 5:43 pm)
  • Amy, you are a true artist in word and in your heart and through your camera lens whether it’s your phone or your primary camera. Your words capture me from the first sentence. Always. I love your vulnerability and honesty and the beauty that goes along with that truth. Please, let;s get together soon. xo

    (February 13, 2014 at 11:14 am)
  • Melissa L says:

    you took these beautiful pieces of your soul with an iphone? I am in awe. you are so brave and deep and I admire that so much about you. xo

    (February 11, 2014 at 5:44 pm)
  • Tina says:

    wow. you are inspiration. such a beautiful vision.

    (February 11, 2014 at 9:44 am)
  • Laura says:

    These are so beautiful Amy and with your iPhone, just, how?! :) you are so talented.

    (February 11, 2014 at 7:15 am)
  • Tamar says:

    Oh Amy, these are just magical. You inspire me so with your words and beautiful imagery. wow wow wow

    (February 10, 2014 at 8:59 pm)
  • Posy says:

    Crazy beautiful words and images as always lady. Loads of love light and strength to you. And less rats and termites!

    (February 10, 2014 at 8:48 pm)
  • andrea says:

    there is no one else like you. and you tell your stories in ways in ways i could only ever dream of. thanks for that. xo.

    (February 10, 2014 at 8:19 pm)
  • Nikki says:

    Oh Amy……I could just gaze at each & every one of these photos forever (as always). Love you big time.

    (February 10, 2014 at 8:14 pm)
  • Maria says:

    i’m in total awe…absolutely stunning.

    (February 10, 2014 at 8:01 pm)
  • Sarah C says:

    Oh Amy. I am moved to tears. I can relate to SO much of your post and even now I struggle so much with our change and embracing finances and knowing that everything isn’t in my hands and I have absolutely no control. I wish I could honestly give you a big huge hug. You are such a special and rare soul. These images are amazing. It truly goes to show it isn’t about the camera but it is entirely about the heart and the photographer. Love this and love you!

    (February 10, 2014 at 6:56 pm)
  • Kara May says:

    Absolutely stunning. You always take my breath away with your images. Moving is hard…we’ve done it 4 times since having our kids. Thanks for sharing this with us. :)

    (February 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm)
  • these moved me to tears and i wanted there to be more (how selfish of me).
    always compelling and not just the surface with you. i admire that.
    big hugs to you, D and C. <3

    (February 10, 2014 at 6:21 pm)
  • I love the way you tell stories with your camera and with your words. You are so inspiring. And I wish I could take a tiny peek inside of the head of yours. You always leave me wanting more.

    (February 10, 2014 at 6:02 pm)
  • Amanda O. says:

    “and one mama between them.” I have so much love for you, and it overflows when I see something like this. It’s just all so perfect, rats and all.

    (February 10, 2014 at 4:35 pm)
  • Just INCREDIBLE. Each of these images can stand alone and tell their own story but go together beautifully. You truly have a gift of telling an amazing story through your lens!

    (February 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm)
  • I feel transported into a movie, a fairytale, and epic loved filled adventure in your photographs. Your dreamy vision is splendid and I get lost in these images. Truly inspiring work Amy.

    (February 10, 2014 at 2:20 pm)
  • alpana says:

    oh, Amy! These took my breath away. You are all kinds of inspiring!

    (February 10, 2014 at 1:04 pm)
  • A beautiful collection. And what style with the iPhone. With love xxx

    (February 10, 2014 at 12:53 pm)
  • tim says:

    what beautiful words and such gorgeous images. iphone or not your work is amazing. i somehow share some of the same thoughts but applied differently in my life and current situation. i also am envious of other portions of this post and your situation and in some capacity feel as if i will be there in the future. thank you for sharing.

    (February 10, 2014 at 12:51 pm)
  • Lauren says:

    I am so glad you are finding your happy, your place. I love the tunnel image, with a view of the bridge. It’s sort of perfectly captures your journey, this whole post. And all of them. Who cares about all the stuff anyway. One room and your babies is all you need. <3 love to you.

    (February 10, 2014 at 11:14 am)
  • Tytia says:

    You are the queen of amazing iphone images.

    (February 10, 2014 at 10:51 am)
  • Rebecca says:

    Summer said it all. Wow…the depth of these images is amazing. I can feel each and every one.

    (February 10, 2014 at 10:35 am)
  • Maryanne says:

    gasp… <3

    (February 10, 2014 at 10:35 am)
  • kelsey says:

    this may be my favorite collection of your images ever. and that double exposure with the rainbow tunnel/golden gate makes me miss marin terribly. xoxo

    (February 10, 2014 at 9:56 am)
  • Summer says:

    wow…just wow Amy. These are just beautiful and interesting and just drew me right in…and glad you are finding a new sense of home…

    (February 10, 2014 at 9:40 am)
  • I am so excited for you. So, so excited!
    I know that great things are in store.
    So great, you can’t even imagine.
    I always love visiting you. You fill my heart with happiness.
    Wishing you all the best on this new and wonderful journey.
    Love, Becky

    (February 9, 2014 at 3:30 pm)


 imagine that the job were so delicate that you could seldom — almost never — remember it. impossible work, really. like placing pebbles exactly where they were already.

- kay ryan


my little love,

i am falling on my knees short. all my best words lie at your feet. through whatever you will be, this will be true. i know the core of you; my own is a magnet for it. it is how i found my first compass, hidden in the stack of my spine, protecting the quick of love, the space and time of you in my life.

mothers and fathers talk about raising kids. maybe i am different, more likely you are. because you raise me up. you are the sun breaking through the top layer of ocean, where the waves make their choppy line between air and water, breath and quiet. you are the reminder to let myself be born into new ideas and struggles and contradictions. to break, to crack, to change my mind and ways. to not be stuck in the mud of boxy expectations. to never build that kind of a box for you. (and fight me if i ever do. i know you will.) though you breathe out peace, you get snagged on cruelty and illogic. then you try to give it a shape you can hold in your hands and work into  a new one. you leave a trail of these gifts, that i am forever picking up and folding and breathing in. i have to imagine it this way, because you are as soft and fast as water. but the way you turn a feeling concrete makes you a magician.

and all the real, the messy, the ground crumbling at our feet. all the new places to sleep, the new faces to translate to friends, the nest we are building with the branches we collect each day, the glue of each other. you are stretching on the tips of your perfectly arched feet. the way you reach, the art of your walk, the pure way you grace us with hello and goodbye, the gifts of the world through your soul. i imagine the look on my face is me at my most beautiful, when i look straight at you. everything has changed. changes we wanted, but which flood us nonetheless. the way you smile through every day and cry out at night tests me as it must test you.

but i am your forever mama. you are my forever daughter. no end will ever end that truth.

i loved you first,


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(all images shot on contax 645, portra 400, kodak tri-x 400)

Kirsty Larmour is a brave and warm and loving mother and wonderful talent. her letter will be beautiful…

  • Debbie Wibowo says:

    I don’t know how you do it, Amy…your pics and words are always so soulful. It is a beautiful thing to have a support when we are going through changes in our lives and that you have each other during this phase.

    (December 5, 2013 at 1:35 pm)
  • Kirsty says:

    Your words are always woven like the most intricate rug – they weave together with your pictures to reveal a life and patterns not always noticable at first – but which has beauty blooming slowly from within

    (December 3, 2013 at 7:15 am)
  • Jeremy says:

    That you are in the world, and that this flows from your overflowing heart, these bring me joy.

    (November 26, 2013 at 8:54 am)
  • Emma Wood says:

    Amazing, breathtaking,raw, honest, beautiful – it’s always such a privilege to read these precious letters of yours and look upon your stunning images.

    (November 25, 2013 at 9:36 pm)
  • [...] amy grace | a beautiful life photo | san diego, ca [...]

    (November 25, 2013 at 5:08 am)
  • julia says:

    As always, all I can do as I read is clutch my heart and let the tears flow. These things that come from you, from her, are absolutely magical. I am left transformed. xoxo

    (November 25, 2013 at 5:06 am)
October 11, 2013 in personal

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“Some say it is best not to go near the center of time. Life is a vessel of sadness, but is noble to live life and without time there is no life. Others disagree. They would rather have an eternity of contentment, even if that eternity were fixed and frozen, like a butterfly mounted in a case.”

- Alan Lightman, from ‘Einstein’s Dreams’, a bible of my teenage years

being right here, right now is love and terror at once. because right now will never survive. all of the love that pushes out each breath will outlast me. but they must, or there would be nothing more to push.

time heals and hurts. it is memory on our skin, then all that tenderness turned inside out and rubbed against concrete. not allowed to scab. not spared from the sun, the elements, the moving on.

i look at my kids a thousand times, in moments of pure awake, and each one is a revelation. this is not an exaggeration. i am hit hard. i am desperate not to turn it away as it looks me straight in the eye. i am torn apart, i break, i bloom into what they have made me, and i feel the night start my wilting. i feel the past around me, it is palpable, it is a fierce ghost, it is a pool of recollection, into which i dip my toes, into which i go headfirst, whole soul, a goner. because each second is a loss. the ending that gives the living its strong and fragile pulse. the life of someone i loved as much as i could love a person, folded into thin air. i could not stop it, the finite point, and the moving away from it. each day, both a betrayal and a victory of grace. and i cannot stop the force that moves me away from these two children, as we are sewn closer, with thread we make. so i am terrified of time. it is the secret i don’t want to say out loud. in case my fear tempts it. i am terrified because i know only love can be forever, and we cannot follow it.

time is urgent. it’s an invitation to live. it’s the hot poker against our backs, our wounds, the fires we tend. it is the place we must come to terms, to rest, to fruition, to face ourselves. we swallow it whole, its thorns scratching our throats, knowing it must go down, that we must let it change what we will know. so i want right now, in all of its fits and storms and pure light. i want it up to my very last second.


my own excerpt from ‘the chorus’, my most personal project, on Motherhood with a Camera. a collective of voices that changes with the themes, together, supported, open, brave.

October 7, 2013 in personal

The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.

- Mary Oliver

Film is not dead. It wakes up something strong and necessary. It makes me more present. It needs light to breathe, like a living thing.

There is honesty all around us. So much easier, so much harder, for the taking. Too much waiting for lives to begin. Too much re-framing, too many pictures that swallow the one that meant something. Editing out, then editing in vision, cohesion, voice. Manipulating the picture after it happens, taking out wrinkles, in layers that mimic the life and light it had at the moment it was born, the time it was real.  Film is velveteen rabbit real, that you hold in your hands and load in the back of your camera in a particular way, with particular eyes and plans, with risk and  possibility, with inevitable failures. It is time that becomes forever, a verb, a physical thing of beauty. Like the people captured on it, their visages, hearts, and motion.

Jon doesn’t just breathe his truth, he makes it the air around him. He charges it, then shares it with us, and we feel the prickle. He pours it into cups and passes it around the circle for everyone to taste. It is a beautiful calculation, it is authenticity on demand, it is joy making, it is providing for the family he loves. It is exceptionally inspiring. It is a gift that multiplies. It is a collective statement of inclusion, authenticity, a new kind of family.

It is a call to artistic arms. To open eyes and minds, and to be new. To raise, like a flag, the very voice you hear deep inside, in syncopation with your heartbeat. To mark the still frames of your own movie with your name, not in words but in lines and light. To see connection in all its possibility, to know the shape it takes, in all the noise and fullness and distraction of life. To know that it is possible and genuine and joy filled, and can be done, again and again, miraculously, with compassion, with hope, with success.

Somehow in seeing jon do his dance, i felt my own shell tighten and crack. I watched him sing his loud, clear song, and i needed to sing too. In my own voice. The one that’s been rising up since I was a kid. Watching everything, feeling more than everything, paying attention to the way we all mix with the world and make our own stories that we hide behind our eyes. The voice that will never be its best the way Jon’s is. The one that starts with quiet voices opening doors, with listening too long, hearts cracking and filling, and ends with love, frozen before my eyes.

Jon laces art and livelihood as if they were synonymous. He teaches how to make what you love work for you. He teaches that you can learn to fold it in to your life, across the lines we draw between our dreams and our real lives. He shows you that the hustle doesn’t have to be hollow. That it is action that starts when passion and work braid themselves together, fall down together, get up together, get better together.

FIND is an invitation, an instruction manual, a community. A book that talks back and keeps talking.

Jon’s transparency isn’t an instruction manual on how to shoot like him. It’s an urging to turn it back on yourself. It’s a mirror he gives you. Shows you how it works. A challenge.
It wasn’t the pictures I took in San Francisco. I didn’t fire away, as i never do. It has been the ones I need to take now. The ones to which I wake up some mornings, with tears in my eyes. The ones that always begin with a feeling or memory or song i need to write. And in turn the pause i need to reclaim, the care, the introspection from which the pictures i love are born. The clarity. The strength of direction and passion and voice and conviction. A reassurance that dreams can be woven into the very fabric of who we are. They should be. I saw proof.

- Amy Grace

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  • Such beautiful words and photos. They bring fond memories of our time at FIND. I’m so glad to have met you, Amy.
    Keep singing your song. The world needs to hear it :)

    (October 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm)
  • rebecca says:

    Oh you are so right. Please mentor me, oh please!! (I live close…Santa Monica, CA) xo

    (October 8, 2013 at 11:57 am)
  • Debbie Wibowo says:

    What a beautiful post, Amy. As always.

    (October 8, 2013 at 9:25 am)
  • Kim Sayre says:

    beautiful. and we are so glad you are up here now! soon we will play in the sweet light!! xoxox Kim

    (October 7, 2013 at 9:32 pm)
  • Amy, your words are so beautiful & layered & rich, and your images always breathtaking. I think I may have to read this post many more times. I feel like I just refreshed on the wonderful learnings of those 3 short days, all over again. Learnings that continue… much love to you Amy!

    (October 7, 2013 at 6:24 pm)
  • Yuri says:

    i always love your posts Amy! your words are so beautiful and inspiring, as are the images – perfect combo.

    (October 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm)
  • Jayme F says:

    I am so blessed to call you friend and for having shared that special time with you!

    (October 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm)
  • What a beautiful way to see the world. I love this post!

    (October 7, 2013 at 2:17 pm)

 “Ten times a day something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.”

- Mary Oliver

these days have felt burned out and lonely, tired and new and holy, awake and afraid and overwhelmed, grateful and clear as love. our home is shifting. we are shedding one, finding a new place, feeling that it is something inside, in the air between us, in our blood and rhythms and collective hope.

i want real. i need real. time as it passes, as the light changes every week, as my kids turn to mercury in this new climate, as i feel our summer, on our skin. film is to me, the kind of velveteen rabbit real for which i have been been rooting. pictures are magic again. in the way that we so often shed at about seven years old. it is physical, it is soulful, there is a price, a wait, patience. and then this joy of picking up a phone to freeze the freedom i can never seem to keep for long. this phone which drives me mad, takes me away too much. we have reconciled. and i love making these pictures along side living this life. natural and wild and outside the box i have so happy thrown out.

this is what this summer looks like. this summer on the verge of so much. this summer forming the curving arc of a question mark. this precious, tender, worried, close, happy thing. this summer in which my eyes blink like shutters, my pupils are wired to my heart, where light and dark and fear and hope react. and i want to be fast when i do. fast then careful. i don’t know the ending. i don’t know where our home will be this fall, the roof under which we will write our histories, the place where roots will be laid. but i will make a map of the instincts we acted out, the light under which we swam and played and watched, the memories in layers. pictures we can drop along our path. a sequence that will make emotional sense. the illustrations the kid in me needs to see in the book.

i will feel them. the way i feel everything. the way i need to feel every photo. the way we all can.

(and please, join me on instagram, if you haven’t found your way to it already. i find it to be a reminder to really see, and to find the joy in every frame, @_amy_grace)

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i am always so happy to participate in this monthly project, with lovely friends. Summer Murdock makes amazing pictures, full of life and love and wonder.

  • breathtaking! xx

    (September 21, 2013 at 12:48 pm)
  • Vanessa says:

    Your images are like poetry.

    (September 1, 2013 at 6:57 am)
  • andrea says:

    the things you do with that phone. you are an artist in every sense of the word.

    (August 9, 2013 at 11:00 pm)
  • Kara May says:

    WOW! As always, I’m blown away by your talent. And your eye for beauty. It’s unique and simply stunning. I could look at your blog and IG feed all day!

    (August 8, 2013 at 5:45 pm)
  • Stunning. Haunting and otherworldly.

    (August 8, 2013 at 12:52 am)
  • alpana says:

    these are insanely gorgeous, Amy! Maybe my fave set from you – each and every one. You are so talented!!

    (August 7, 2013 at 5:49 pm)
  • Oh Amy! I don’t know how you do it, but you never cease to be amazing. These are so intriguing and beautiful.

    (August 7, 2013 at 12:31 pm)
  • el says:

    I live in constant battle with my phone and all the distractions that live inside it, but will always adore its camera and how the memories it makes reminds me of all the things I love. These images of your days are amazing and now I am thankful for YOUR phone as well! ;-) xo

    (August 6, 2013 at 6:51 pm)
  • goosebumps galore, this set needs to have a showing, in a gallery somewhere. It’s striking! Hook it up, get onto it, really it would make a lovely collection for people to lose themselves in Amy xo

    (August 6, 2013 at 3:19 pm)
  • jules says:

    so so so much talent … it doesn’t matter if you’re using words, digital, film or your phone … talent and raw beautiful just pours out of you. you share something that no one else does … love your beautiful heart. love you!!

    (August 6, 2013 at 2:14 pm)
  • Wow. Blown away by the beautiful honesty in these. Your words always leave me as breathless as your photos!

    (August 6, 2013 at 2:11 pm)
  • absolutely breathtaking. i never know if it is the words or the images… you always leave me wanting for more :)

    (August 5, 2013 at 8:29 pm)
  • STOP it Amy… seriously these just blow me away. Wow wow wow. Love every single one. You are an artist to the core my friend!

    (August 5, 2013 at 7:45 pm)
  • Jayme F says:

    Oh my word! The freedom in these is amazing!

    (August 5, 2013 at 7:26 pm)
  • I have a feeling that you’re as real as they come, Amy. As always you inspire and cause me to pause as I read your thoughts through the written word and published image. xo

    (August 5, 2013 at 5:57 pm)
  • Sarah C says:

    I am always fascinated with your images. I could sit here and stare for hours. They are completely special and I always recognize your work right away. Even if it wasn’t your beautiful children, I would just know. It is like my soul registers you. You are special Amy. I really hope I get to meet you one day in person, but I feel like i know you so well already. You also make me want to really explore film. I recently purchased a holga but haven’t used it much just yet. You inspire me to push my comfort zone.

    (August 5, 2013 at 2:38 pm)
  • [...] out Amy Grace | A Beautiful Life Photo.  She has been using her iPhone is the most creative ways.   Her images are soulful and full of [...]

    (August 5, 2013 at 10:48 am)

“surprise assumes a space
that has been forgotten,
especially here, where we
rarely speak of it,
where we walk out onto the roofs
of frozen lakes
simply because we can.”

- dobby gibson

to the best person i’ve ever met,

these are the days of wine and roses. grammy used to say that when i was young, and it is something i have borrowed because i have needed it. to talk about these days with you. i feel time as it swoops in, and cannot stay. every moment the first moment, the last moment, the memory on our skin. if we had forever, maybe we wouldn’t be looking for it in everything. but i see it in you. your every age face, the way you show up as the woman you will be, the secret ladder you seem to have, able to look over to the other side.

the hard parts are who i should be for you. that deep in my head i think you need more than i can give you. and then i wake up. to love. to the washing over kind of acceptance and hope and making magic from nothing that you do. to knowing that you knock life out of the ballpark with sweetness that stays on my tongue, no matter how hard or scary or unknown the truth is coming out. that you will distill it and map it and draw it so that everyone can understand.

we hear so many people talk about how childhood is fleeting, like it’s a storybook, all innocence and light, like it exists above the ground, perfectly dressed, the ideal we adults need to believe in to counter the ways our own lives have gotten so very real. when sometimes it can be the feeling of roots growing and being ripped out. immediate and pressing and full of fast, changing shadows. i’ve invited these changes in again, as we plan to move again, into the deep forest of question marks, into a place that seems like a garden, but is unknown to you. and i’m hopeful. and happy. and angry at myself for another round of changes for you. and grateful for the resilience that runs through your blood. and i am here. always, stubbornly, wholly, devotedly here for you. in whatever way you need me. i will show up and stay and fight and think with every bit of gumption i’ve earned along my way.

a memory returned to me a couple of days ago after twenty five years tucked away in my brain. the summer after fifth grade, my first sleepover camp. it was hot, my body was tired, it was too wild, too loud, too new, and i was as homesick as you can be. you know my face. the kind that hides nothing. everyone thought i must be sick. my friend knew i had migraines so i went along with it as a counselor came to our room and rubbed my temples. and i bit my lip because it was a white lie, which i hated, but mostly because i knew i would turn into a waterfall. because i missed grammy and poppy and uncle p. our cat and dog and my clean sheets and quiet and books and space to think myself to sleep. i got homesick when i went across the country to college, too. and i hid it. again. and so i have been thinking about how sad that was. not to be able to reach out, when i needed it. how i never want you to feel that way. that i know you are the strongest, kindest person i will ever know, and that being yourself, in all its precious frailty, is such an important part of growing.

we are in this together. we will ride the waves and float to the top. nothing will make me let go or look away. we will find our new home. we will be our home. we are a closed circuit of the most powerful love. my heart buzzes with you.

i loved you first,



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(all images shot on contax 645, kodak portra 400, tri x 400)

this letter is a link in a chain of women i love dearly. Emma Wood follows. she makes beauty that seems to come from another place.

  • Ashley says:

    And your words… Gahhh… I’m speechless.

    (September 12, 2013 at 10:51 pm)
  • Ashley says:

    Stunning. Just stunning. Your images blow me away.

    (September 12, 2013 at 10:47 pm)
  • Debbie Wibowo says:

    Amy, your letter brought tears to my eyes. It’s beautifully written as always, but most importantly because your beautiful soul. I see my mom through your letter. How she was always there for me, how she always put us first. She is so lucky to have you and I know that she’ll grow into a person with a beautiful heart. Just like you.

    (July 31, 2013 at 8:42 pm)
  • shalonda says:

    oh amy you amaze me…your homesick sties swirl around me and take me to back to those moments as well….i was the child that never stayed at a sleepover until morning bc i always mysteriously ended up sick, ha…that is the same part of us that constantly makes us wonder if we give enough, if we are enough, if will be enough….but ya know what….we are…we are because we are their mothers.

    (July 30, 2013 at 11:37 am)
  • Kirsty says:

    A letter that touches my soul Amy, it resonates with the familiar, the worries, the joy, the future, the changes – the way we always wonder if we’re enough, and somehow they grow anyway, and blossom – and she does – she is a resilient young soul, and you will guide her

    (July 27, 2013 at 8:14 am)
  • laura says:

    beautiful photos and beautiful words but oh, the colours in the photos. your daughter is so beautiful. xx

    (July 27, 2013 at 5:22 am)
  • Alexis Dyer says:

    So lovely. I tried not to get a lump in my throat but couldn’t help it… Especially this week of mothers and grandmother’s memories. Generations shift so quickly. How did we become the “mothers” how did it all happen so fast? :)

    (July 25, 2013 at 9:25 am)
  • [...] and don’t stop here please please continue on through our circle and head over to my amazing friend AMY GRACE’S blog her words will resonate with your soul, her images will touch your heart and you will see why i consider her an incredible mother and an amazing friend..CLICK HERE [...]

    (July 25, 2013 at 7:01 am)
  • She is so beautiful.
    Like her Mama.
    I love how you see her childhood. Perfection.
    You are an inspiration.
    Happy Summer day to you my sweet friend. Love, Becky

    (July 25, 2013 at 6:46 am)
July 5, 2013 in family

“Eternity: for all its invisibility, we gaze at it.”

- Muriel Barbery

it is one thing to know someone, in the faraway, too close, pretend world of the internet. it is another to see them playing out life like art, in layers of colors and feelings and connections, like paint on a canvas you can reach out and touch.

these pictures are frozen, but they have a pulse. wendy and her kids share one. she is a rainbow, and they are the light and water that make it happen. i can see what i felt when i saw them together. it would have been a task not to capture the life that spilled over from their cup.

(portra 800 and 160, contax 645…and you must go get lost in wendy laurel’s gorgeous world if you have not seen her work.)


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  • Beautiful! Found you through LTKDT blog this week. Your work is really inspirational.

    (July 23, 2013 at 6:33 am)
  • Popster says:

    What a gift, Amy, to be able to both capture and reflect such authentic happiness, love, and beauty! Wow! Popster

    (July 6, 2013 at 7:15 am)
  • suzanne says:

    these are seriously beautiful. the vibe is so awesome and the colors are breathtaking. great job xo

    (July 6, 2013 at 6:58 am)
  • Kaley says:

    Amy these are seriously magical!!!

    (July 5, 2013 at 9:47 pm)
  • oh those sisters & their messy windswept sun kissed locks! Absolutely heart melting to see this rainbow family through your eyes

    (July 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm)
  • Rebecca says:

    These do have pulse. I love them Amy! Such joy and love. Two of my favourite things. Oh, how I would love you to photograph me and my family. Maybe one day. XOXO

    (July 5, 2013 at 7:31 pm)
  • I can feel the love jumping off the screen. So incredibly lovely.

    (July 5, 2013 at 7:22 pm)
  • Nikki says:

    Had to come back to this so I could leave a comment! Just love these so much:)

    (July 5, 2013 at 7:12 pm)
  • Gah, Amy. Such inspiration. You are amazing! I know we always use superlatives, but really. This deserves it so much.

    (July 5, 2013 at 6:03 pm)
  • Amanda O'Donoughue says:

    Ok, now I have to commission you for my family. Just beautiful and filled with the best stuff of life.

    (July 5, 2013 at 5:12 pm)
  • these are simply scrumptious Amy. The colors are AMAZING!!!

    (July 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm)
  • Marla says:

    The colors and the feeling are all superb, friend. I can’t wait to see you make beautiful images of more families on film!

    (July 5, 2013 at 2:25 pm)


 if i could only turn back the clock to when god and her were born
“come in” she said
“i’ll give you shelter from the storm”.

- bob dylan

my sweet love,

i used to cry for all the perfect things you did not have. for all that had broken around you. for the everything you deserved, and that i had never been able to carry back to you. but my empty arms always had room for you. as if they were meant for you, in those years that were our sunrise. and i let the sorrow float away, with all the detritus that keeps us from swimming. i banish the dark, the unsaid, the never good enough. i let go of that raft, pieced together with scraps, and we float, and we reach for each other, and we make it.

we have had talks already that most girls will never need to have. and there are already depths to you most will never know. this is me talking, but it is everyone else too. we all see your light. your questions are gifts from your imagination. my answers are gifts to your wide and pure heart. we have woven our story together, with the truth as we can see it from where we stand, with metaphors and humor, with grace like the wind in our hair.

all of the tired i can sometimes feel, wakes up at the thought of you. it’s too late, and i’m driving and exhausted at the wheel, but i crack the window and you are the breeze, i turn on the radio and you are the last song i would choose to hear. i wake up to every drawing of the inside of your mind. to every character you write and i would love to meet. i wake up because you need more of me these days, in different ways. the open books of lessons with the ever open arms. i wake up to you because the words i choose matter. the thought that goes into them. the way they meet you and mingle and dance with yours. i wake up as you stun me with pride, with goosebumps, at the things you breathe to life.

you know how to sail, how to captivate, how to create, how to love and be loved back. love in that forever way that i begin to understand more with every day of being yours. i will always be on the shore, watching you go, waiting for you to come back to me, feeling you always with me. you know me. you see the pieces of me which are all the joy of you. and you see the sad, the worry, the kind of not knowing i cannot reel in. you see me trying. and that will always be for you. the good that comes of it, is already yours before it is born.

i loved you first,




ilford 3200, contax 645

this is just one link in a circle of mothers who have become some of my dearest friends. Shalonda Chaddock is one of those graceful and lovely hearts.

  • Vanessa says:

    The depths of your talent knows no limits!!!!!

    (June 26, 2013 at 4:22 am)
  • Kirsty says:

    Oh that sweet soul of hers, and yours and your bond – it resonates through every letter and every image and tells so much of past and future and her and you and hard and soft and all that is real….

    (June 25, 2013 at 11:24 pm)
  • Karen says:

    This is so beautiful and powerful. It says many things I want to say to my own child. Thank you so much for sharing. Xx

    (June 25, 2013 at 11:19 pm)
  • Amanda O'Donoughue says:

    So many dealings with my mother these days as an adult and mother now myself. I couldn’t hold it in when you wrote, “you see me trying.” It’s killing me tonight to read that.

    (June 25, 2013 at 7:31 pm)
  • VALERIE says:

    Amy, this is so so so beautiful. This little lady is so so so lucky to have you as a mother. You two make the perfect team. I would love to photograph both of you one day… Beautiful image as well friend. <3

    (June 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm)
  • Sarah Cornish says:

    Oh Amy. There is never a dry eye when I finish reading your amazing letters. They just are bursting with love and heart and soul. You are such a special woman, and your daughter is going to grow up to be such an asset to the future of this country because of who you are raising her to be. Just amazed by you!

    (June 25, 2013 at 11:56 am)

“if you have seen the snow
somewhere slowly fall
on a bicycle,
then you understand
all beauty will be lost
and that even that loss
can be beautiful.”

- dobby gibson

(i wrote this text for my weekly column on little bellows, last tuesday. and i am recycling it, because the point still stands up straight against my spine. i want to feel it there, against my back, to lean on when the other voices call me other places. the ones i should let fall silently around me, not to be let in, not to be given the password. it has been a month of cracked shells and feeling full and stuck and lucky at once. very lucky to break open into blossom. with the small people who chip away at all i think i know, showing me, with their grace, the form that is always changing. this is what finding my own joy looks like.)


the pictures that take up residence in my heart are the ones i took while living them. they fall away and i try to catch them. they find their winding way to me. the very moment i think of making something for an audience is the moment i give up emotional rights. this has hit me not like a giant, sweeping wave, but rather as a series of hundreds, while my feet are planted, sinking into the sand, no longer free to dive. but i am so glad it has hit. i really do not know whether what i do is art to the world. and i am trying to sprinkle handfuls of salt into the pool of opinion, when i bear down and search out my own. what i do know is that i found a key to turning love into something magic for me, that i can see and hold, that feels as immortal as the feelings that drove it into being. and that feeling was enough reward to keep doing the dance.

my daughter wanted to use my camera yesterday, while we were busy living, on an afternoon when she learned to fly a giant butterfly kite, by herself, for the first time, when we had our favorite, secret park to ourselves, when her brother, for the first time in three years, felt the tug of gravity on his heart, and wind in his hair, and decided to really swing. she wanted to try because she was feeling big and free and strong enough. she wanted to try because she makes things; it’s who she is. she worked the focus button, watched the bars line up on the meter, and it was that simple. and the girl i go to for all things aesthetic took this picture i cannot wait to put on a wall. and others. each one was a tiny statement about being alive, and there was pure joy and insight behind it. there was that spark of love that makes us all want to do what we want to do. a straight line through it all, everything else falls away, occum’s razor, grace.

All of the feedback we receive comes from other minds and hearts and lives. whether glowing, harsh or silent. it can change what we see in ourselves. what we know of the world from touch and taste and memory. it can have us interpreting our purest instincts. it can taint the source. it can have us chasing the light at the end of the wrong tunnel, instead of digging our own. it can mean gambling away the filter of our own precious stories. inspiration seems to work in the same way. there is too much against which to measure the manifestations of our souls, while souls themselves can never be measured. finding your joy can be a risk and a release. i believe it should be both. but it is ours. it is a song that fits our voices perfectly, even when it is scratchy or searching or out of tune. it is the truth that everyone can love to sing. and all this, without someone confirming it. so find your joy, let it find you, and never give it away.


the ever amazing Summer Murdock knows how to tell a story with so many different kinds of beauty. she is that good, that refreshing, that inspiring to me. and she is next.

  • Ashley says:

    Amy, all of your images are so beautiful. Can you copy this comment and paste in to every single one of your posts. Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. I adore you.

    (September 12, 2013 at 10:38 pm)
  • Kendra says:

    Amy Grace, I am a new follower of yours and found you in a random way. I just love your images. If I could assign a description to them, or better yet, how I feel when I look at them, I would say they make me feel “free.” I am just learning film and that process also makes me feel free. I can only hope I learn it as well as you have; not just the exposures but the feelings, composition and angles you manage to capture. Great work! Thank you for the inspiration!

    (July 30, 2013 at 10:17 am)
  • Pam says:

    these are breath-taking. I’m in awe of your writing and your photography. Thank you for sharing.

    (July 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm)
  • such an inspiring set

    (June 15, 2013 at 8:21 am)
  • Amy, your words are beyond. Always. Reading them I sometimes feel as if I’ve stepped into a room that I’m unqualified to be in. But they’re so beautiful that I stay and soak them in. The best part though is that your images match them so completely. You are a true artist with a true artist heart. Thank you for sharing you with us.

    (June 8, 2013 at 3:43 pm)
  • i don’t know what is more beautiful… the words or the images. what a gift you have- it ALL brought me to my knees. absolutely amazing :)

    (June 6, 2013 at 7:58 pm)
  • So lovely!!!!

    (June 6, 2013 at 7:08 pm)
  • So many of these made me smile ;) Your daughter is such an old soul… What an Angel!! Great perspective on the swing..and i love the trampoline!!! Cute lil tooshie!! Your love shines through in all you do..Your an amazing woman! xxoo

    (June 6, 2013 at 6:33 pm)
  • Rebecca says:

    Holy Moley. Love them all…especially with Mumford and Sons “Awake My Soul” playing loud in the background. You are a special one Amy Grace.

    (June 6, 2013 at 1:16 pm)
  • AMY AMY….you leave me in awe. I could look at these over and over and over….really lady I don’t know how you do it but you do…every single time!

    (June 6, 2013 at 11:55 am)
  • Gosh. Joy in June personified.

    (June 6, 2013 at 10:50 am)
  • I love these pictures so much. They absolutely scream of summer.
    And most of all, they scream of love.
    I love how you love them.

    (June 6, 2013 at 9:53 am)
  • Kara May says:

    Holy holy! These are AMAZING! For reals. I could stare at these all day! Awesome as always!!

    (June 6, 2013 at 9:47 am)




“the core reason for it all was beauty. walking was a divine delight. everything was rewritten when he was up in the air. new things were possible with the human form. it went beyond equilibrium.

he felt for a moment uncreated. another kind of awake.”

- colum mccann

baby girl,

you are still that. you are always that. this new and wild and and growing force. the arc of a wave of all that is good. from somewhere else, somewhere better. it is in the tiny things, the beauty that comes out of your mouth, the pure place you seem to start, when the rest of us wear scratches from thorns. i wonder, ‘can this last?’ i have been wondering this since you were a year old. because light came from your fingertips, and all you have ever had to do is point one our way. i wonder less and less, and worry less too. i listen from the kitchen as you teach your brother at the pretend school, “i will teach you how to love”. i listen as a simple washcloth in the shower, made in pakistan, unlocks all the economic injustice of the world, child labor, your ever spilling over heart. i watch as you tenderly and instinctively know exactly what to say, as your best friend loses her dad. you are you, and it is always more than enough. you have had loss in so many different incarnations. and yet you are still on your feet. and you hardly walk. you dance. i felt you on the verge of a road that broke, and watched you jump in the mud, make the bridge across, smiling, thoughtful, and pick a new one nearby. one leading to a clearing.

when i was little, and not so little too, i was afraid of the blank page. i could sketch anything i saw, but i was terrified with nothing in front of me, when i had to close my eyes to see. i could not bear not knowing. i could not handle not getting it right. it took years of unraveling and untying knots to let in the wonder. you were the beginning. the crack in the shell to the outside. you were light pouring in when i was frozen. but you have none of this. you cannot help it, as much as i slowly learned i could. your mind is the mother of so many characters with sweet and tiny stories and faces, of lines and arcs and ideas. you are about becoming, and you sweep up the world when you grow.

we went to the ocean last week, and you were as wild and beautiful and brave as you have ever been. in a tiny, steep cove, the beach as narrow as our living room, the waves strong and turquoise and high, you were the lone soul called to them. a teenager was scolded by his mother to get down off the rocks, with you at his side. i waited. i bit my lip. and waited. and watched you with your arms out, in a stance of joy and freedom, posed only by your nature. and still, i waited. and i felt the other beachgoer’s eyes through to my spine, which held straight. for you. to let you feel what you needed to, as much as i needed to run to you. and then i saw them. a line of three giants waiting to carry you off with them, coming slowly and getting higher as they rolled. and i handed off my camera to a woman behind me, set your brother, in his tiny cocoon towel, against the rock wall, and i ran like i hadn’t since i was twelve. i ran into the waves and held you close and watched your face turn white for two seconds. before you threw back your head, smiling, alive, wanting more. you went right back out again, this time finding a tiny cave. and somehow i wanted to follow you. since you were tiny, your teachers have always been telling me about the way you move on, and find yourself. i am only glad they are able to see it.

i loved you first,




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this is one link in a beautiful project with so many amazing mothers and friends. the ever kind and lovely Debbie Wibowo follows me this month.

  • Eileen says:

    I held my breath for you Amy, as a mother. And then I sighed a breath of relief and thrill from my younger self. <3

    (June 20, 2013 at 12:04 am)
  • So amazingly beautiful as always. Your work just makes me feel so calm and happy and in the presence of such beauty.

    (June 6, 2013 at 7:06 pm)
  • Vanessa says:

    This is poetic in words and imagery. Gorgeous!

    (June 5, 2013 at 6:11 am)
  • Sara T says:

    Once again you are the streaming bright light with your words and images of her. She is so beautiful and captive in her every move. I love her movement in her side light. It is pure and lovely and looks like she just dances and sings with her light. Ingenious words and images, as always, and I am grateful to share this beautiful project with such and amazing artist and mom!

    (June 2, 2013 at 11:05 am)
  • shalonda says:

    amy. funny, i find myself reading your letters every month holding my breathe. i take in each word like a dagger straight to my heart, a lesson for her, a moment for you…motherhood is a never ending path of fear laced with tiny footprints of love, exuberance, joy, hope…success. and you seem to show it to them so well…to show it to ALL OF US so well. and then i finally remember to breathe. xoxo sweet friend

    (June 1, 2013 at 8:59 am)
  • Debbie Wibowo says:

    I love her free spirit, her sense of freedom, her beauty and kind soul. I hope I can meet her one day and learn from her. xoxo

    (May 30, 2013 at 5:54 am)
  • Kirsty says:

    The way you describe and photograph and share her is a beautiful breeze, a shaft of light, an outpouring to us all Amy xx

    (May 27, 2013 at 2:12 am)
  • Tamar says:

    oh my goodness. this is pure magic. all the way. :)

    (May 25, 2013 at 9:43 pm)
  • this moved me deeply,first I forget to breath and try to read faster …then smile and felt tears in my eyes…only as mom can feel

    (May 25, 2013 at 6:34 pm)
  • courtney says:

    oh i love this. gorgeous. heartfelt. love.

    (May 25, 2013 at 2:57 pm)
  • Emma Wood says:

    Julia said it beautifully, it’s as though you are not only so much more awake in your world, but you wake us all up in ours. I feel as though I need your words and images almost as much as I need to breathe. You take me to a level beyond one I could imagine and that is pure magic.

    (May 25, 2013 at 9:21 am)
  • wendy says:

    That blue!! That girl!!! Gorgeous and heartfelt per usual Amy.

    (May 25, 2013 at 8:54 am)
  • julia says:

    I can’t find words. Just feelings, pouring out of my eyes as I read your words and take in every incredible image. You always leave me feeling another kind of awake, Amy Grace.

    (May 25, 2013 at 7:11 am)
  • [...] continue through this circle of amazing Mamas; starting with  my sweet friend Amy Grace – who also happens to be one of the most inspiring artists I [...]

    (May 25, 2013 at 4:41 am)


“already one day has detached itself from all the rest up ahead.

it has my photograph in its soft pocket.

it wants to carry my breath into the past in its bag of wind”

- charles wright

my dear littlest,

your mommy is heaviness and light. you seem to be getting the hang of it. living with me, being who you are with someone feeling your every breath, helping you take the deep ones, trying to let you go, remembering your hand in mine as i hold it. you make me feel all the shades of grey at once for the rainbow they are. you are all bended light. you are a story in which we feel suspended, where every second is everything, where we are love and skin and now.

i am grateful for the way you build a world and fall apart in a moment. our tangled souls are getting a workout. how you see your imagination roll like film on a projector, and nothing can reach you, the picture is that vivid. then in a blink, you are “a danger to self and society” as mommy says, and full on love is the only antidote, the only intervention. you are the roller coasters you speak of with longing. you are the little boy whose stomach can only handle the slightest swoop of the pendulum on a swing. you are gravity and the dream of flying. you are the gentle, close, humid warmth leaving my arm asleep with you every night, and the breeze left in your fleeing wake. you are the arc of love as it stretches across my heart, and you are the very heart beneath it.

taking care of you is my anchor. from there you are hooked into my skin. it is the point of light from which all else is born, strong enough to reach the surface. heavy, but as true as i know. carrying you, your head on my shoulder, your legs wrapped around my waist, is a weight that keeps me tethered here, and sets me free. it is the beautiful paradox that always made my head hurt. because i was so close to understanding, but it had not yet devoured me.

i know i must finish this, as you just came up to me, got between me and the screen, and kissed me with your perfect chapped lips and apple breath. and then my nose. and then each eye. just like i do to you. and there is the pulse of my world in one tiny gesture that is too big for this world. so here i will end, without the list of details i have been saving up for our memories. because you need me, and that makes me, me. you make me the crazy, patient, singing, spinning, pulling my hair out with pure joy mommy i am. you are my equal and opposite action, in miracle form.

and i love you like wildfire.



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this is one link in a monthly project with some other wonderfully diverse and devoted mothers, writing to their precious kids. next is Tabitha Patrick

  • Ashley says:

    Beautiful. Just beautiful.

    (September 12, 2013 at 10:53 pm)
  • Beautiful beautiful images that capture the joy of childhood here, Amy.

    (May 18, 2013 at 7:45 am)
  • Debbie Wibowo says:

    The way you see life, light, love, and your children always mesmerized me, Amy. I love his curls, his chubby cheeks, his blue eyes, and his love for his sister. I really look forward watching him grow through your pictures and visions. xoxo my friend.

    (May 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm)
  • Your writing takes my breath away. Absolutely perfect x thankyou xx

    (May 15, 2013 at 11:18 am)