Did you know that the very first photographs were created in the 1820's? Ever since, people have valued the art of photography and the ability to capture moments in a way that you can hold them in your hand as physical proof that those moments existed. Printed photographs allow us to see those memories all around us. Here is something that I never would have seen, had photographs not been around: My grandparents wedding day. This is a scanned image of the original photograph, which has held up beautifully over the years!
Photographs are so very important for many reasons. Sometimes we need photographs to allow us to relive the good times, sometimes we need photographs to get us through the bad times. Photographs can be reminders of people who have left us too soon and they can be reminders to hold our loved ones close and cherish every moment that we have with them.
For example, I have so many photographs from the past several years (shocking, I know), and of course they're mostly of my children, but I have one that is so deeply important to me. It is of my family the last time I was able to be with my Grandfather before he passed away. All of my grandparents have passed leaving me with only memories and photographs. I never got to meet my paternal Grandfather, so the only memories I have of him are the photographs that I have seen in family albums.
I could pick apart this image as a photographer. The pose looks forced, my arm looks fat (although I am about 7 months pregnant in this photo), the kids look less than happy, etc., etc. But you know what? NONE of that matters. What matters is that I can look at this photograph and remember my grandfather telling me stories about the war in that beach house. What matters is that I can show this photograph of my kids with my parents and my grandfather to my children when they are older. What matters is that this is the closest photograph that I will have of him meeting my youngest child. Those things are what matters.
Some of you know that I volunteer as an editor for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS), which offers photography to families going through the most difficult experience on Earth: losing their child at or soon after birth. These photographs are treasured by these families. They are physical proof that their child existed and was held and loved, even if for a very short time. Volunteering for this amazing organization is not always easy and there are moments that I have tears falling down my face as I am helping a photographer with their images. But I will continue to volunteer for them because these photographs are memories that these parents will treasure forever and they deserve to have beautiful portraits of their babies.
So often people are NOT in their family photographs because they don't feel pretty or feel fat, or just don't like the way that they look. But here's the truth: Your kids and your family don't care if you haven't lost those last 10 pounds. They don't care if your hair is crazy. They don't care about those perceived imperfections that you think you have. They DO care about being able to see your face snuggled closely to theirs, or your arms giving them a huge hug. They will especially care once you are gone and they are not able to feel your hugs or kisses. What they will have are memories and moments captured in time for them to look back on in photographs. That's why the motto that I have for my business is "Capturing the moments that you want to remember." Of course, I would love to capture those moments for you, but even if you don't choose me to take your portraits, I urge you to have photographs taken of you with your family. Have them printed out. Hang them on the walls in your home. Put them into albums. Have them visible for all of the world to see. Those moments? They are the beautiful reminders of all of the love in your life. And us photographers? We want you to remember them always.