Many of us do not like to be photographed. We don't want our messy hair, mismatched clothes, tired eyes, and silly faces immortalized in photographs forever. We want to wait until our hair looks perfect, our make-up is on point, or we are wearing a trendy outfit. Maybe we want to lose or gain a few pounds. Or we might say that we would rather be the ones behind the camera photographing our children, friends, spouse, and other family members. What happens when you escape the photo-ops too often? There might be no photos of you since high school or your wedding day. There are years or even decades where you are unseen.
You see, it is important to #existinphotos because someone will want to remember you at this moment in time. Whether it's your mom, dad, sister, brother, cousin, niece, nephew, grandchildren, grandparents, best friend, aunt, husband, wife, or someone else. You are important to someone. They want to recall your messy hair. To see your silliness at the family bbq. To remember how you loved wearing bright colors. To remember your crinkly smile from laughing at a cheesy joke.
What happens when the day comes to remember you? Will they find photographs of you in your joyous moments? In your messy, real-life moments? As a husband or wife, will you and your true love share photos outside of your wedding day? As a grandparent, will your children be able to hold up a beautiful photograph of you as they tell your grandchildren your legacy?
I have come to understand the importance of existing in photos and encouraging others to document the special moments and people in their lives. There was a time where I was just starting my journey in photography. During this time, my grandma was my favorite person to spend time with. We would always go thrift shopping in off-the-wall shops on Antique Row. I would listen to her for hours on end as she retold stories from her youth while we had our morning coffees together. Her house was a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of college. Eventually, my grandma allowed me to photograph her in the November of 2012. It took a lot of convincing since she was self-conscious that her medicine made her seem heavier than she was accommodated to. These photos captured the essence of who she was: a bright personality that was full of laughter and a wise woman with a heart of gold.
Then her cancer came a few months later. She no longer had enough energy to leave the house. The pain from the radiation took a toll on her and made her irritable sometimes. Since she had cancer in her throat, she had to have a feeding tube. Her body was not very strong so she lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time. If you have ever cared for someone who was battling cancer, you understand the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual toll it causes.
In November of 2013, just one year after our photo session, I had to say goodbye to my grandma. These images are one of my most prized possessions. It reminds me of her smile, her laughter, and the countless moments of happiness we shared. For this reason, I implore you to exist in photographs. It is something priceless and to be treasured for a lifetime by those who love you.