“The greatest achievement of a truly ambitous person may be simple kindness”” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Madison Buckner © Aaron McCullough

“Madison came all the way from Yellowknife to see me. She said she was up at 4:00am and got to my studio around 1:00pm. I was actually across the street at a Bistro just about to have lunch when I realized I had the shoot in 10 minutes! Unfortunately I had to gulp (yes gulp) down my glass of wine and changed my order to go. It was also a very busy day at the studio as there was a bridal publication shoot going on. Madison is a photographer herself and was quite inspired being in the studio. We shot in a few different areas in the studio but I chose this image because of the wonderful reflection that was created by Madison standing near the big, arched glass, windows.” – Aaron M

Image © Aaron McCullough

An Interview with Madison

Q. What is the best memory you have from a previous birthday?

A. I have never had a birthday party. I was always given the option of a big-ticket gift or having a party. My choice was always a big-ticket gift off of a wish list I would create for my parents. One year, in middle school, my best friend (Katherine) planned a surprise birthday party for me. I was late for the party, and it is by far the best birthday experience I have had.

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. As most children, my memories of being a young one are fuzzy. Due to my parents occupation, we (as a family) were often transferred and moved across Canada. One of my birthdays was spent driving across Western Canada. It is not necessarily the worst way to spend a birthday, but it is not necessarily the best either.

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that surprised you most?

A. Growing up, my mother and I shared the love for a band called Train. For my 12th birthday she managed to get a hold of two floor seats at one of their concerts. For my 16th birthday, that escalated to two VIP meet and greet tickets. I cried tears of joy when I received the news. It has since become tradition for us to go VIP for every Train concert we attend.

Q. Is there a food or dish that you insist on eating on your birthday?

A. A t-bone steak and prawns, or ice cream cake.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. The child in me would answer this with the word ‘possession’. When I was younger all that mattered to me was what I received for my big day. However, as the years pass my answers shift from the amount of well wishes posted on my Facebook wall to what activities my day consisted of. This year, it was my 19th birthday and I had to work the weekend of. My day fell on a Sunday, and I planned to go out Saturday midnight. When my shift ended on Saturday I went straight home and began getting ready. My mom took me for dinner then we met our neighbour at a local bar. They bought me my first legal drink. I live in the Northwest Territories and the Aurora Borealis (or, the northern lights) are a common occurrence here. However, I have never seen them as spectacularity as I did when we got home that night. I looked up to see streaks of green, purple and red dancing across the sky. It was at that moment that I realized the most important aspect of ones birthday is not possessions, popularity or drunkenness. It is about who and what you surround yourself with. As long as it makes you happy, it is worthwhile. I believe it is not one single thing, but a combination of little things coming together to make the most memorable experience.

Q. Do you have any traditions or thing you always do to celebrate a birthday? What is it?

A. Not overly, we typically sit down for a birthday dinner out and invite some neighbours over to share ice cream cake.