EMILIE BAGGE || Santa Barbara, CA || My brother-in-law and his family came for a visit from Copenhagen, and I was treated with the opportunity to photograph Miss Emilie. She and her mom became part of our extended family when Emilie was a toddler. . . the cutest little non-English speaking, white-blonde Danish girl who took quickly to my in-laws, my kids, the other cousins, the aunts and uncles and so much of the American way of life. We spent summer vacations together in the suburbs of Chicago swimming, water-sliding, mini golfing and my favorite: filling the stands at a hometown baseball game one sticky summer night, the cultural and language divide between the cousins {which had narrowed over the years} disappearing all together over "candy floss" and hotdogs.

Aside from special visits that never happen enough, I see Emilie's life in Denmark through pictures shared online and with the family. At 11, this tall, bright and funny girl is perfectly fluent in English, complete with a great sense of humor. She's a well-loved daughter, cousin and friend, and has a tender heart for animals. She enjoys horseback riding, her cats, new dog and guinea pigs, swimming, bicycling and the brand new Apple Watch she got for Christmas. This particular afternoon, after a number of days together in Santa Barbara, Emilie, my brother-in-law and I meandered through this all-too-familiar favorite place of mine, and I saw it in a new way through their eyes.

Emilie was fascinated by the landscape, every gopher hole and set of paw prints we saw along our way. She squatted down at each one, examining the tracks and poking at them with sticks, convinced at least one set came from a bear. Although desperate to see a snake, any disappointment she may have had when we didn't quickly turned to jubilation at lizards, one particular hummingbird, and other birds and planes circling overhead. It was not just walking through an open space with a child, not just watching someone see a new place for the first time, but witnessing literally, a whole new world open up before her, and right there in front of me. I have to say, I think I got pretty lucky that day.