Why is taking pictures so important to me?

I came across this article yesterday.  Please take a minute to read it. 

It made me cry.  By the second paragraph.  When I came to this section:

Although she will always be missed, because of photographic capture, she will never be forgotten. As photographers, we have the ability to capture the true essence of someone within a split second and preserve that memory for all time. Thanks to photography, my grandchildren will be able to learn about their grandmother through stories and images.

There…I’m doing it again.  Crying.  Those words hit me to the core.  Three years ago, I lost my sister to ovarian cancer.  I have not been the same since.  I miss her dearly.  Daily.  They say time heals.  I think time has made me miss her more.  I miss her more for what she is missing.  But I have pictures.  I have pictures of her with my first daughter.  Photographic evidence of just how much my little girl meant the world to her Auntie.  As time goes by, my daughter will remember less and less about my sister but thanks to endless pictures that I took, she will see what I remember.  And maybe, those pictures in themselves will create memories.  Maybe she’ll say “remember that Christmas Auntie Dina was here and we took all those silly pictures on the sofa?”  And for me, of all those pictures, there are no bad ones.  Each one is a memory and a moment captured.  Priceless. 

Like the author of that article I had the opportunity to take some very important pictures this past fall.  Don’t get me wrong, I think any time I go out to take pictures it is important.  But when you know that the pictures you are taking may be the last portraits of that person, it just means that much more.  You are creating more than pictures.  You are creating memories that are going to have to last a lifetime.  I remember returning home, downloading the images and crying.  (I seem to do that a lot, don’t I?)  I knew that I did what I set out to do.  The pictures were of a little girl, not quite 2, and her grandfather, stricken with cancer.  The look in his eye.  The adoration on her face.  A moment.  Forever captured.  To be forever remembered.  Long after Grandpa passed away. 

I know this post doesn’t have the levity and joy and happiness of most of the posts on the blog.  But I felt it helpful to me to write it.  To put into words why I feel so priviledged to pick up a camera and do what I do.  And to share that gift of photography with others.  And because no post is ever complete without a picture, here is one of my sister and my daughter.  The Christmas before she passed away.  A picture that means the world to me and to my little girl. 

Shelley Michaud - July 23, 2010 - 2:57 PM

WOW Penny….this post really hits home.
I lost my mom to cancer just over a year ago. The pictures that I have of Mom, whether it be the ones Beaver took or the ones I took around the house, mean the world to me. Seeing how happy, surprised or proud she was in each of them is priceless.
My son will not remember her but we look at her pictures all time and I talk about her daily. I, like you, hope he remembers her through the pictures and stories I share.
Thank you for this post. I am here crying but I am smiling – thinking about all the great memories Beaver caught of me and my best friend, my Mom, on the best day of my life, my wedding.


PS… I will be in touch soon, will need some belly pics done of baby #2 fairly soon!

Carrie Wood - July 22, 2010 - 10:41 PM

What a great memory!!! To read this post, it brought tears o my eyes… You did an amazing post here Penny!!!


Amanda McEvoy Henderson - July 21, 2010 - 5:42 PM

Thank you so much for sharing that deeply personal story. I believe that people who cross our paths don’t do so randomly-there is a purpose, and there is something to learn from those who you share a connection with. Since meeting you and Beaver a couple of years ago, I have always had an instant “like” with you both-not superficial, but because I felt good feelings around you both. You have a beautiful way with words, and your description above is just an absolute work of art in capturing who your sister was in your life, and the life of your family. Again, I am so in awe of your (you and Beaver) talent for scouting that moment and interpreting it for what it means to the person who will cherish it forever.