As an artist and professional photographer, I have been a long time believer in the value of a portrait. Not just the kind you take with a phone, or the kind you find on a thumb drive or on the internet, but the kind you can actually touch, hold & feel- the “old school” printed photograph. Remember those? The longer that I have been in this profession and the more I have seen it change, the more opinionated I become on the subject.
I’ve also come to realize, that as photographic artist’s we have SO much more to share than disks full of files. We have something absolutely priceless to offer… the essence of a person, captured to experience, again and again. Time in a bottle, if you will. Long after the person’s time on earth is over.
Think about it. At the end of a life, what do we have left of the PERSON who has left this earth? Sure, they may leave behind a home, a vehicle, possessions, even an inheritance… but what is actually left of THEM? Only one thing is powerful enough to allow us to re-live a moment in time, to experience the joy that they used to give, to FEEL in a very small way, how they made us feel while they were still here. Memories fade, but properly taken care of portraits, are FOREVER. And “forever” truly only happens in a portrait.
When a life is over, you had better hope that you took good pictures, and even more preferably, great professional portraits along the way. A portrait is what is left when you no longer have the body that a person was in. Portraits have the ability to allow us to remember the soul. They are visual proof of our existence, a foot print of our time here on earth. Portraits are priceless.
I can tell you this, because after hearing the news that my Uncle John was tragically killed in an airplane accident yesterday morning, the very first thing I reached for was the photo album. Sadly, I was disappointed in what I found. Very few photos that my uncle was actually in, and the ones he was in were blurry or cut off or blinking or… you name it. They were snapshots, what was I to expect?
Just as I started to get discouraged I had remembered the time my uncle had invited me to witness and create a visual storyline of his proposal to his soon to be wife. Now, being the very private person he was, I was surprised but delighted to be able to capture that moment in time for him. He told me that I was to handle the matter with “lawyer/client type of privileges” and was to keep everything under tightly sealed lips until he had made it public. I gladly obliged and now it makes me chuckle to think about the stern and serious way he relayed the message. My Uncle John was known to be a somewhat stoic man that took some poking and prodding to get him to take off the “businessman” presentation he normally wore on his face.
After taking this morning wandering aimlessly in my car, and in my head, I went into the studio hoping and praying I had organized those images as I should have. And Hallelujah, they were in my FOREVER drive, under family and friends “to save”. This saved me hours of digging through yearly files, I was SO relieved. Just as everyone wants to do something (anything!) to help in times like this, I desperately wanted to be able to present the family with a proper portrait of my uncle.
I found a perfect headshot that at some point I will release for the obituary photo, however right next to it, I also found a candid moment that I had forgotten about. It was taken between shots, before my light even had time to fully recharge, slightly underexposed, but truly the essence of the man I remember. And since this is my gift, my only offering of condolences to the two sons, 3 siblings and father that he left behind, I figured it was my prerogative to share the image that I wanted to share. The slightly imperfect, but yet PERFECT capture.
So, for my family, this is the one thing that I have to offer to you, as I know all of our hearts are aching from this loss. Here is Uncle John as I always want to remember him. My gift to you. Please humbly accept my love and well wishes, and rest assured, there will be prints waiting for you at his memorial service. Sincerely with my best- Kelly