"DEAR ABBY: A dear friend, "Harold," passed away suddenly from a heart attack. Since we knew his wishes, he was cremated. Harold always hated having his picture taken, so the only photo available for display at his memorial was his driver's license photo, and he looked like a deer in the headlights.
I wish we'd had a few candid shots of Harold to remember him by. I would have loved to have kept one for myself. Please urge your camera-phobic readers to permit family and friends to snap a shot or two of them every once in a while, before it's too late. Thanks. -- MISSING HIM IN ILLINOIS"
I'm reminded of certain people in my life -- and you probably know a few as well -- who see me with my camera and run the other way. When I aim the lens in their direction, their hand goes up to block their face. They claim they are "not photogenic" or "hate photos of themselves" or are "having a bad hair day." But whatever the excuse, these people have no idea how selfish they are being to those who love them. My mother-in-law is one of these people -- yes I am naming names and pointing fingers. I can't count the number of photographs I've taken of that woman's hand.
At the last photography conference I attended I sat in on a presentation by the amazing Master Photographer David A. Williams and was brought to tears by his stories of life and love and loss. One thing he said that I often repeat to others is that photos exist of people because they are loved. Throughout time from the very earliest sketches on cave walls, or crude canvas to the finest modern portrait masterpieces, pictures are made of individuals because somebody loves them. So to deny others a photo of you is to deny them that little piece of you that they may cherish someday when you are gone.
The photo I'm sharing with you above is a photo of my daddy. It was taken with a cheap little point and shoot camera by my mother when they were enjoying a lazy afternoon at home and my father reached down to pet his cranky Siamese, Skuzzy (yes, that's really her name). It was one of the last photos taken of him before the cancer overtook him and prohibited him from enjoying the last few months of his life. This photograph, where he appears healthy and strong and happy is one of my most treasured photographs. It ranks right up there with the images of my children when they were born, the 1973 photo of my mother and her beehive hairdo cuddling me close, the photo of me and my sister in 1977 smiling and hugging each other because my mom threatened us if we didn't. The photo of my daughters holding their newborn baby brother -- all smiles -- before they decided he was yucky and needed to be forbidden from their rooms. The photos of me and Jayme on our honeymoon, stopping at every "Welcome to *insert random state here*" sign we passed.
I remember a conversation I had with a friend a few years ago. We were discussing the items that we would grab if we had 5 minutes to evacuate (after, of course our loved ones and pets). The first thing that popped into my mind was the big tub of negatives and discs full of photographs that I keep under my bed. My friend said the first thing that popped into her mind was insurance paperwork -- oops, that didn't even occur to me.
Keep those cameras up and point them at those you love!
Lisa On Location Photography