Why Photographs are Important
Seventeen Years ago my oldest son James was in an accident that took his life. He was twenty two months old. He was my life. The day his life was over, mine ended too. He was my sunshine when skies were grey. The day I handed him over to God my days dimmed for what seemed was going to last a lifetime. I couldn't comprehend a heart that could sustain an entire life enduring that kind of breathtaking agony. What does this have anything to do with why photographs are important? I'll tell you.
I was awoken in the silence of the night the evening James would take his last breath. I was prompted to start my photography business. I had studied photography all the way from high school through college. I stayed up until 4:00am. I bought my first digital camera and started my first website. I questioned my sanity because I had two boys under two. They were fifteen months apart and I was busy up to my eyeballs. Nonetheless I couldn't ignore the whisperings in my ear that 'it was time' to start. Twelve hours later James was in the accident that took his life.
I had taken a photo of James with his brother Spencer one week before he died. It was the only 'professional' picture I had of the two boys together. It was hardly professional. That single image quickly became the most prized possession I could have in my possession.
My mission became to give to others what I wished I could give to myself. SO much more than the perfect smile but the spirit behind the eyes. My purpose became to give to others these fleeting memories that are gone all too quickly.
For me, the opportunity to capture my memories vanished in a heartbeat. For most people the opportunity vanishes right before your eyes without you realizing it. Moment by moment, day after day.
Losing James helped me realized why photographs are important. Nobody realizes how fleeting the opportunity is until it is lost. Most people don't give their child to heaven like I did but time is a thief that steals your child right in front of your eyes.
I learned why photographs are important and that is why I dove head first into my portrait work. You can't stop the clock, nor would you want to. James' clock stopped and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. However, these are the days that will be forgotten if they are not intentionally remembered, savored and kept safe with keepsakes.
My oldest living son Spencer is now seventeen. I have a one year old baby girl, Stella. I don't think I will ever forget my Stella's adorable ways, yet for the life of me I cannot remember what Spencer was like as an infant. We don't think we will forget, but inevitably we always do. This is something we don't think will ever happen to us, but trust me when I say, it happens to every single parent.
Photographs aren't just important to those who have lost children. The point is, we all lose ourselves and the ones we love. Thankfully not always to Heaven like James. Sometimes we lose our loved ones to other countries, or different states. Sometimes relationships go awry. And no matter what, we all lose ourselves to time. Time is the greatest thief. It is a silent, steady and stealthy burglar. We hardly notice the opportunity is being taken from us until it is too late.
Why are photographs important? Photographs are important because they are a transportation vehicle transcending time. It is our own back to the future time travel machine. Portraits give us the ability to share our story with those who came before and those who will come after. It is our ability to leave a legacy.
Why are photographs important to me? Well, the truth is, there is nothing I would not pay to get back one more day to capture James' everything. His pictures are priceless. His eyes, his expressions.... I could never have too many. I have memorized the handful of images I have of James.
Don't wait. Don't procrastinate that special portrait session. Your kids and grandkids will thank you. More than anyone, you will thank yourself.
To my sweet baby James, I love you to Heaven and back. He has been my right hand man. He has held my hand through it all. He has given me the super powers I possess as a photographer because of the perspective his life gave to me.
17 years down buddy....looking forward to hugging you again.
Love you forever.