This week I will be headed to the funeral home to pay my respects to a family mourning the loss of a loved one. I am at an age where I find myself frequenting funeral homes and memorial services more often than I would like. With every visit my mind travels to thoughts of, “what was the last photo taken.” As a photographer, passionate about my craft, this is a natural thought process. However, isn’t this also a natural thought process for anyone grieving the loss of a loved one? Isn’t searching for photographs one of the first things you do when someone you love passes?
Not trying to sound too morbid, but I have thought about my own death and wondered what photo will be placed next to my casket. I can’t answer that question. Looking back through my own family photos, I have photos of my children. Not as many as I would like, but they are there. However, the one person missing from those photos is me! I was always the one behind the camera. Unfortunately, I did not value professional photography when my children were growing up. We all talk about what we would do differently if we could have a “do over” and that would be at the top of my list. My children are all grown and I can certainly remedy this now… but those early days are gone. Pivotal moments in their lives, that at the time I thought I would never forget, are gone. The memories are faded and I can no longer remember those sweet, young faces in my mind. Thinking back, I know money was tight and I’m sure I always thought professional photos were something that I could not afford… but then when I think about some of the purchases made, like that Rainbow vacuum that I always hated or that set of Encyclopedias my children never touched, and I think of how that money could have been spent on a gorgeous family portrait, it breaks my heart. If I could only have a “do over”.
I just watched the movie Kodachrome and these lines brought me to tears. "We are all frightened by time and the way it moves on and the way things disappear. But that's why we are photographers. We are preservationists by nature. We take pictures to stop time. We commit moments to eternity, human nature made tangible."
YES, this is what I do. This is what I love. This is what I am passionate about. These words are from my heart. I pen them here not in an effort to try and guilt someone into booking a photography session, but as a reminder to myself of why I do what I do. One by one I am filling my own walls with photos of the people I love. Faces and moments forever captured in time. Human nature made tangible.
And about that photo of myself that my family will someday be searching for… I’m definitely working on it!