Danny Henley: Family-bonding photoshoot

Danny Henley

I am not one of those people who allows himself to become fixated on an upcoming event, no matter how significant it might be. It’s been my experience that if I allow my level of anticipation to reach a full-fledged boil, I will wind up suffering a letdown to some degree.

Oh, to be sure there have been exceptions. The arrival of each of my five children was always highly anticipated and the “event” always lived up to expectations. But special days such as birthdays I try to keep as low key about as possible.

With all that said, I broke my own rule by allowing myself to look forward to the first weekend of October. It had nothing to do with birthdays, anniversaries or any kind of special event, other than a quick trip to St. Louis to meet up with a couple of my now-grown “kids” - Jacob and Amber.

Jacob has landed a temporary job in St. Louis with an architectural firm. Amber has lived in St. Louis for the past few years where she is employed in a marketing capacity.

This, however, was going to be far more than just a “Hi, how ya doin’?” weekend. Our primary goal was to get together for a photo excursion.

As I’ve shared before in this space, Jacob is an amazing photographer. Amber also has been blessed with a keen photographic eye. And while I don’t possess their God-given gift for photography, that doesn’t stop me from having a blast with a camera in my hands.

As expected, with my anticipation building, the week leading up to the weekend junket seemed to slip into slow motion. It was as if someone had snuck in an extra day or two.

Finally, however, Saturday arrived and we - Nancy, my wife, Anna, our daughter, and I - were off to St. Louis. We were hardly outside the city limits of Hannibal, Mo., before I set the cruise control of our van so as not to allow my anticipation to manifest itself in a heavier-than-normal right foot.

Not long after arriving at my in-laws, Amber appeared to take me to downtown St. Louis, where we would meet up with Jacob who had already spent a chunk of his day working.

Amber had barely finished parking her car before I jumped out to survey the scene that surrounded us. Almost every building had a reflective surface, which presented me with an assortment of unique shots to take under a brilliant blue sky.

Knowing Jacob was waiting on us a few blocks away, Amber and I pushed east. We hadn’t gone half a block before another golden photo opportunity caught our attention - a wedding party.

People pictures are one of Amber’s fortes, so it was a natural attraction. As the bride navigated her way into a pool, with a pair of her bridesmaids carefully carrying her dress’ train behind her, Amber and I fired away. Needless to say, members of the wedding party gave the camera-carrying interlopers curious looks.

Jacob, having grown tired of waiting on us, called Amber to get directions to our location and soon joined us. Then for the next four hours or so the three of us prowled the streets of downtown St. Louis, photographing just about anything and everything, including each other.

One of my favorites is of the three of us together in front of a reflective store front with our cameras up.

We finished our day on the Arch grounds, calling it quits when it grew dark enough that we feared our continued presence might either draw mosquitoes or muggers. Afterward, we returned to my in-laws’, where we ate pizza and reviewed our photos.\

I share this experience to offer hope to both parents and their children whose relationship might be so strained right now that they can hardly stand the sight of one another. Hold your tongue, hang onto your sanity and cling to the thought that better days can lie ahead. I speak from experience.

Hannibal Courier-Post