On a recent trip with friends, I was teased for being “annoying” and taking ‘too many photos.’ I took the comments in stride knowing that I simply cannot change that aspect of myself. Truth is, since becoming a professional photographer, I have realized the importance of photos and the significance they carry.
You see, to mi, taking pictures captures and preserves specific moments and memories representing a certain time in life. How amazing it is that with a simple click, one can freeze a moment. When I was raising my family, I was the picture taker. Mostly because I didn’t like photos of myself. As a result, my children will have very few photos of their childhood with their mother in them.
But that has all changed. Like many, I too have lost a significant number of people I loved over the past few years. Several even younger than I. They literally were here one minute and gone the next.
In discovering the importance of photos and the significance they carry; I have made photography a career choice and have since been honored to capture some incredible subjects and times. As I write this, I am reminded of many of the photographs I have taken personally and professionally. Pictures of people, places, and things like the antebellum homes along the coastline of Biloxi, Mississippi that are now non-existent due to Hurricane Katrina.
This morning I received the news that a dear friend of mine lost her mother today. Upon getting the word I was immediately taken to the moment when I was able to capture their ‘generation’ photos. Only a few months before her stage four breast cancer was discovered and she, as of today, had left this earth.
The news prompted today’s walk down memory lane and a flood of images surrounded my memory. I recall the images I captured a few years ago for a man with his grandson who got a three-generation photo with his son and grandson only to return to mi a year later to continue the tradition. However, this photo would be of only him, his grandson, and the dog tags left behind by his son who was killed in Iraq. My mind goes back to the photo I took of mi and my 80-year-old dementia client only two months before she died and instantly all our outings and discussions come rushing to mi as I gaze upon that photo. I am reminded of the simple cell phone photo of the hostess and mom-to-be that I quickly captured in the busyness of the baby shower celebration. At the time no one knew that would end up being the only photo of the two of them or that she would be gone from our lives a few weeks later. As well, I recall the selfie photos of friends sharing events and Bingo nights only to have one leave the world too soon. I am reminded of so many friends and family members that are no longer here and am so blessed to have these visual details to bring mi back to those special times, places, and moments.
While the people in these scenarios and the many you have lost, may no longer be around, the moments, the memories and the occurrences surrounding a photograph will live on. Seeing a photo reminds us not just of the person but of the smell in the air, the music playing in the background, the circumstances leading to that time, and so forth. It is our permanent emotional connection to something we may feel is lost forever.
So, even though it may seem annoying when someone, like me, keeps taking pictures try to embrace those times. We ask to take a picture because it is a beautiful thing, a moment to cherish. Photos capture the love for the subject (whether a person or a butterfly on a flower, etc.).
Whether someone lives to be 15, 50, or 100, it seems we never really get enough time with each other. Even if we tell them every day that we love them, we unequivocally crave telling them one more time.
Although past moments we shared may be gone, our love remains with us until we leave the world and pass them on to others. Photography allows us to capture and hold onto special moments and memories forever and carry on the stories, love, and moments we wish we had more of.
So, the next time someone says, “Smile!” or “Let’s take a picture!” Please do not dismiss the opportunity. This moment may pass but the photos and the significance they carry will live on even beyond YOUR years.
© c. michelle Bryant griffin
Photos by focus on fabulous creative photography