A few weeks ago I received news that my friends mom had passed away.
When her mom was diagnosed, we had gone to the park with her daughters, and her grand babies and we played. It was mid-August of last year, the sun was soft and golden - the kind of light that lets you see dust float and dance through the air.
I saw my friend this week.
She started to weep as she talked about her mothers hands. "My mom hated her hands. But that photo, they're my mom's hands...you know?"
Ugh, my heart.
I once watched a video of Sue Bryce, an online mentor, fellow photographer and someone I admire very much. She talks about creating legacies though photography.
"My job as a portrait photographer is to take THE MOST beautiful photograph you have EVER seen of yourself, so that you can cherish this for the rest of your life and that your children can love it and enjoy it and it will be more meaningful than anything your family will own. Trust me, the value of what we create for you is far greater than anything you could ever buy. I want to stop acting like this life is a dress rehearsal people, because it's not." - Sue Bryce.
Yes, I take beautiful portraits of people in natural landscapes. Yes, I capture connection and emotion for people who love each other in many different capacities - lovers, siblings, parents and children. And yes, it's all pretty and fun and totally whimsical.
But it all came crashing down on me like an enormous wave. The realization that as photographers, we capture legacies. We capture spirit. Separate from our body, spirit remains after death. It's heavy stuff no doubt. And yes, the images we create get splashed about on Facebook and Instagram with lots of likes and comments... but these images are also cherished at funerals, too.
I cried this week out of compassion for my girlfriend and the loss of her mother. I also cried because I have so much gratitude for the way life has guided me towards this career. I absolutely love it and I'm so grateful that people allow me to capture their legacies, their life and their loves.
Watch Sue Bryce's video encouraging you to Exist in Photographs:
The #existinphotos campaign exists to encourage women and others who shy away from the camera to value themselves enough appear in photographs so that years later their families have memories to hold on to.