Farewell KL {A Charity Family Photoshoot at Batu Caves}

This was one of my very favourite Family Photoshoots in Kuala Lumpur so far. Maybe it was one of my all time favourite. It came together just at the last second, a confluence of lucky conicidences brought us together to make these pictures. The Sidaros family was about to leave for a new life in a new country, home packed, and on their last days in KL. They wanted a shoot that captured the feeling of the city, some of the magic of the place, and their memories of their life here.

Not only was this photoshoot at an amazing location, kaleidoscope colourful with joss sticks floating on the air; not only was the family a true delight, warm, loving, and up for anything; not only did they come to me by way of Clare, who had been their long time family photographer, and who had trained them so well, I hardly had to direct at all. All of that is true. And also, it was a charity shoot, and the Sidaros Family was so beyond gracious and generous in supporting my cause. I guess what I mean to say is that sometimes the stars line up in such a way that your track through life intersects with those of others and for a moment there is a flash of knowing, an opening of hearts, and of touching insides, and that expanded feeling that all is as it is meant to be. I’m only sorry that they left KL; I’m only sorry that I didn’t get to know them better.

This family photography gig is a real honour.

A happy family sits on the steps of Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur.

A happy family sits on the steps of Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur.

A family portrait by Kuala Lumpur Family Photographer Erica Knecht.
A family stands in front of a temple as a worshiper walks by at Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur.
An abstract double exposure by Kuala Lumpur photographer Erica Knecht.
A man shows off a string of Jasmine in Kuala Lumpur.
Batu Caves in the pre-dawn light by Kuala Lumpur Photographer Erica Knecht
A father embraces his daughter in a family photoshoot by KL photographer Erica Knecht.
A bag of Jasmine near Batu Caves.
Colorful Batu Caves steps in the early morning by Kuala Lumpur photographer Erica Knecht
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A family stands together as their little girl runs towards the camera with an exuberant smile on her face at Batu Caves.
A worshiper descends the steps at Batu Caves.
Paint on the Steps at Batu Caves,
The colorful stairs at Batu Caves, leading up towards the temple by Kuala Lumpur photographer Erica Knecht.
Birds fly over a temple at Batu Caves.
A family with two little girls in front of a temple at Batu Caves.
A mother embraces her daughter on the steps at Batu Caves by Kuala Lumpur family photographer Erica Knecht.
A black and white image of a father embracing his daughter framed by the mother and her daughter.
A mother embraces her daughter in front of the colourful facade of a Hindu Temple by Kuala Lumpur photographer Erica Knecht.
A black and white image of a mother embracing her smiling daughter in Kuala Lumpur by family photographer Erica Knecht.
A black and white image of a mother tickling her daughter by family photographer Erica Knecht in Kuala Lumpur.
A family portrait in front of a colourful temple in Kuala Lumpur.
Two little girls laugh on the colourful steps of Batu Caves.
A family portrait on the steps of Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur by Erica Knecht
A family plays together on the steps of Batu Caves by KL photographer Erica Knecht
A black and white family portrait with a mother and father each embracing a daughter in Kuala Lumpur by Erica Knecht.
A black and white portrait of a father embracing his daughter in Kuala Lumpur.
A mother and a daughter play on the steps of Batu Caves.
Two little girls give each other a big hug on the steps of Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur
A family portrait in black and white in Kuala Lumpur

Ten on TEN {NOVEMBER}

In which I both travel back in time and completely destroy the premise of this entire project. ENJOY!

Oh boy. Is this project even worth continuing? I can hardly get my act together enough to shoot it, let alone POST. And yet, I solder on because beneath my cool exterior, I'm a sentimental little snowflake and want to preserve in digital amber my wee ones' tender childhoods. 

These are from our time in Europe at the end of last year. Lyra was post surgery and we had some time to kill between doctors' visits and went to see our friends in Belgium. I didn't necessarily take these pictures on the hour. And if truth be told, I think some of them are actually from the 11th. But let's just go ahead and post them anyway.

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Instead of my usual hourly breakdown of the images, here's the general narrative arch (because I can't be bothered to do the time zone conversion that my camera's metadata failed to do.)

We got up early in the morning and left our hotel in London, but before that, we did leave a lovely trail of croissant crumbs behind. We made our way down to St. Pancras Station where we got our train to Belgium. We arrived shortly after lunch time in Antwerp, which is a really interesting city. I stayed with my lovely friend Emily who incidentally is probably my most blogged about friend? Anyway, we've known each other since we were babies in the adult world; newly married and newly moved to Asia. Now we have seven (!!!!) children between the two of us, and about 10 years expat living under our belts.

The babies were pretty wary of each other at first, but Lyra soon became so excited to be around other kids. We hung out a bit, and then went out for a bit of a walk where I fell in love with the beautiful contrast between grit, and baroque gilded gleam with a dash of rad art deco sprinkled in there.

Antwerp is a really lovely city. The town square and old quarter are absolutely worth a visit. I was expecting a pedestrian European city, but was really happily surprised to find that it is really artistic and designy, full of great little shops, beautiful murals, and lovely markets. I really enjoyed my time there, and can't wait to go back and see it under leaf and sun.

In London

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We’re in London again for Lyra’s eyes. Three weeks away from home and my big kids, and the family that is my heart. But also, three weeks of quiet time with my baby who now has the face of a toddler and will be one in seven days. Three weeks of quiet wandering, of yoga and cups of tea, or museums and old friends and early bedtimes and books and white hotel sheets.

The morning of Lyra’s surgery, we woke well before dawn, our bodies still somewhere between here and home. With hours before our early morning check-in time, we dress and leave the hotel, into the dark of the morning that still feels like night. We walk the length of Oxford street until it changed its name three times and the city neighborhoods shifted, unfolding the story of the city, of class and culture and the  people who live here. It’s quiet and pink, my breath fogs, and Lyra falls asleep. The city’s not yet awake and I like it. I always forget to remember that dawn is the best time to get out into the world.

This time feels different from the trips before. The city doesn’t feel so strange, and the ache of this disease doesn’t sting and stab quite so hard. I don’t feel that gratitude so deep that I believe I can feel the center of the universe and the meaning of all things. We’re easing into this, the swells and swings are normalizing. Anxiety and worries still lurk and wait, seeping out when I'm tired and the baby won't sleep.

 

I’m here in London for a few more days. Then we’re off to Belgium to visit some old friends who we’ve known since we were just two couples, newly married with baby faces. Now we’re parents to three babies each, and how times change and all that.

Life's funny, isn't it. It's nice to be here, but also it's not. I'm excited to be away, but I ache for my home and my family. I'm getting to see old friends and make new ones, travel and see people who feel like family. But my big kids are at home, and not here with me. 

Down to The River {Shoot for Charity}

My first shoot for my charity project in partnership with Orbis International took place right in own neighbourhood. Each year I donate one month of work to a Charity project. And this year I'm working with Orbis, International, an organisation that brings sight-saving treatment to people in the developing world.

I connected with some neighbours, the kind you chat with on playground; the kind you admire but don't yet know why; the kind you wish you knew better. The brief was the kind I like best: capture us here in our home and in our neighbourhood and help us remember this time and this place, our boy's first home as we prepare to leave China behind.

We met at home, while Baby O was waiting for Daddy to come home. We chatted and played as we waited. I learned to say a few words in Czech. We talked about life, our families, our difficulties, and the the beautiful ways that living outside your passport country can stretch and change you. We talked about Lyra and how she's doing, and how lucky we are to get the treatment we do. We got to see each other and realize that it would have been better to know each other like this months earlier. 

And then Daddy came home. And it was all tickles and cuddles and jumping on the sofa. We got ready to go outside, the heat of the day was starting to soften. We walked down past the river, to their favourite bakery and got ice cream. Then we ran up the pathway and watched the boats. We saw a man playing the flute, and remarked that in China there is so much life in public spaces, and yes, we'll miss that. We did what is normal on a Friday evening, we became part of our neighbourhood and participated in the act of living. 

Thanks lovely people, thanks so much for participating in this project with me. Thanks for donating to Orbis, and giving the gift of sight. Thanks for giving the gift of sight. Thanks for helping another beautiful soul to be able to see their neighbours and be able to walk down to their river and watch their boats and participate in their own community. This is a gift that changes lives.

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The bloom is off

Things kind of fell apart last week. Perhaps after being away, the reality of life in China is confronting me again. The roughness and sharp elbows reqired here are wearing on me. The bloom is off and we're back, deep into the normal life of a family with small children. They need a snack immediately, someone hit someone else, there's an impending diaper mishap, and would you please just lie down so that I can deal with it? and the baby won't sleep, and is she hungry? has the stress of the last weeks dried up my milk? they don't like dinner, they won't take their bath, the hitting and the singing the singing the singing right in my ear as I'm trying to cook dinner, and I feel like I'm on fire. My adrenaline is always soaring. The mess, the noise, the constant need, and everything feels like an emergency. I say, that's it. We're going to the playground and then for a moment, we're outside and the light is just so, and the children are digging together in the sand, the baby is sleeping, and I can breathe again. Hugo edges towards me, he rests his head in my lap and says, My Mummy forever. And I know he's missed me, and I've missed them too.