Last week we lost a beloved family member. Someone who was so close to my husbands heart that I’ll never truly know. Not much shakes this man around. He is my rock. But this death has. So it got me thinking about the value of our photos. As this is what we, and our boys, have left to remember her by.
A number of years ago I had a difficult job of sitting with a mother who had lost her son from leukaemia. He was taken far to early. No mother wants to bury her child, and now as mother myself it’s something I can’t help but try and push from the back of my head. This lady had thankfully thought ahead, they knew he didn’t have much longer with us, and had a photo shoot done of him. He put on a strong brave face and looked the fullest he had looked in a long time she told me. He knew what the shoot was about. He knew that this was the one thing that he could do for his family, which they could look at every day on the wall and remember him by. His smile was big and his face bright. Underneath he was exhausted and in excruciating pain.
A few months later this mother returned to purchase more photos of her late son. The hardest photo viewing I have ever done to date. How could I, a person who is so willing to help others in times of need with whatever I can, charge this mother for photos of her deceased son? It was just unbearable. I could see the heartbreak on her eyes and we flicked through the photos. Eventually she chose the few that she could afford. After she left, I ordered some other images for her and never told anyone. I made sure I delivered that poor poor mother the only joy she could have felt at such a time of sorrow. The look on her face when she realised that there were extra photos is something I will store in my memory forever.
It’s a bit of a taboo subject, but hey, I’ve dove head first into it already haven’t I? We don’t think about the true value of the snaps that we have around of our family and friends until it is to late sometimes. Sometimes its not death that makes us realise it. Sometimes there are other tragic events that make us think about it. The floods in 2011 and Black Saturday are just a few I can think of off the top of my head.
Being raised in the middle of the bush, in a tin shed, on 152 acres with no boundary fences. In the middle of summer, you really think about it. You know bush fires not to far away and they’re gaining momentum. What would I have grabbed in that time of panic before I ran out the door and we drove away from everything we’d even held dear to us? Documents? Photos? Treasured family heirlooms? There is only so much we could have fit in the car.
So many people complain about having their photos taken. If I had a dollar…
Just the other week I photographed a man who was probably the hardest I’ve had to deal with to date. He didn’t want to have his photo taken at ALL. His photo was being taken for advertising purposes. But if he didn’t like having his photo taken to make money, and lets face it, a lot of society is driven by the penny these days. I don’t imagine he would have to many voluntarily taken family portraits kicking around his house.
I hear time and time again, ‘oh photos are so expensive’. I know this is something holding a lot of people back from having photos taken, even if they aren’t professionally taken.
This is how I first started out taking photos. I was looking through the photos we had at home one day. Back then, we had a big box of photos, you know, in those little paper envelopes that you get back from Kmart. I brushed away the dust and had a look through. Most of it was crap. My dad fancied himself as a bit of a photographer at some stage in his life. So there were some truly fascinating shots, of the hordes of ducks, and geese, and blue heelers we had over the years. I’m joking, it was boring as hell. But there weren’t that many in there of my bother and I growing up. So I dug out the camera and starting taking pictures…mostly equally as fascinating as the ones that my dad had taken. But I filled the spot with photos of us at least, and grew my passion into what I am so lucky to call my job today.
I think we all need to look at photos from a different perspective. They are keepers of time and memories, a painting of light. Don’t wait until it is to late. Gather your families and take lots of photos together. You and your children and their children will treasure them for lifetimes to come. They will be the most valuable items in your household. I can guarantee it.
This post is dedicated to you Joy. Taken from us to early with so many wonderful memories to hold forever. I know you’re dancing on tables wherever it is that you are x