Meet Brittany, my 89/100 strangers.
Brittany, 24 years-old, is a critical care nurse at the University of New Mexico Hospital where she cares for patients admitted through the ER who have been injured through serious motor vehicle accidents. Brittany is most proud of being the mother of two little girls: 4 year-old Analiyah and 3 month-old Arhianna.
I met Brittany, along with her finance, Ray, and their children, while enjoying a stroll through the Japanese botanic garden at the ABQ Biopark. Her partner came down the path where I had been working a few images of fully bloomed peonies. I moved out of his way to permit clear passage of the stroller he was pushing. Brittany walked close behind him with their eldest daughter. Brittany’s hair and interesting eyeglasses were appealing to me, and what encouraged me to introduce myself and ask for her to participate in 100 Strangers.
In three words, Ray described Brittany as, “loving, bold and original.”
When Brittany agreed to be photographed, she revealed her new meaningful tattoo on her shoulder cap sleeve. It’s the names of her two darling daughters. Ray is lobbying for her to keep the sleeve tattoo in grayscale instead of filling it in with colored pigments.
“Did it hurt?” I asked her.
“Not as much as I expected,” Brittany said. “It only took one 6-hour session. The time went by fast.”
Brittany knows something about the passage of time. Her typical work schedule is three consecutive 16-hour shifts followed by 2 days-off. She attempts to overlap her free time with Ray before he has to leave for his own job. Brittany has returned to work since giving birth to her second child.
“My favorite part about being a mother is that I can come home to my girls. I’m glad I had two girls. They’ll become good friends. When they are older, I look forward to being best friends with them, too. No one can take them away from me. Our family is the most important thing in the world.”
In a matter of 10 minutes, I photographed the family, then the girls with mom, and then mom alone. At our initial meeting, they had been scouting for a quiet place where Brittany could nurse the infant. We went longer than her body was prepared for: Brittany was beginning to show signs of breast milk leakage. I didn’t notice it while making this portrait, only afterwards when I inspected this image on a computer screen.
We exchanged emails and walked together through the gardens until finding an out-of- the-way spot where she could sit and nurse.