This is an emotional topic that often isn’t truly understood until it is too late. I offer up my own experience not as a photographer but as someone who has lived through an experience and if I can prevent someone else from going through this then it is worth it to me.
There have been many articles on how mom-tographers are always behind the camera and never in front of it because their hair isn’t done or they haven’t lost the baby weight. Yes, that is a problem, I have been there and still experiencing that. I’m one of them but at every opportunity I try to get out from behind the lens and capture a moment with my family or just me being me.
I learned this the hard way.
Three and a half years ago, I was pregnant with my second child when I received the news that I had been dreading every day since my brother had his first heart surgery in the summer of 1985. My brother who was nine years younger than I had passed away after a very brief battle with septicemia at the age of 25.
Jason had suffered brain damage during his multiple surgeries as a young baby which left him with life altering physical and mental disabilities. After his first round of surgeries, my parents were told that he likely won’t see the age of 4. When he reached the age of 4, we were told that if he made it to 12, he would need more surgery and a pacemaker. He had a pacemaker put in at 12 along along with valve replacements. Just months before his passing, he had had the pacemaker replaced.
In preparation for his funeral, my parents decided to create a collage of photos to remember and honor his life. What we all realized after his death, was nothing short of tragic. While we had many photos of my brother and his friends, my brother getting out in the community with his life skills classes and my brother being just himself, we didn’t have very many family photographs.
Here is what we had – a family portrait from about 1989 when I was going through my awkward teenage years with really cool blue eye-wear and what can only be described as a mullet, a very awkward studio portrait of my brother and I from 1985 when he was very bloated from what we would later learn was heart failure, a reasonable but somewhat blown out group shot from my wedding of the four of us together and a shot that my mom took of just my brother and me with her old film camera at our wedding.
It was blatantly obvious that we had never made family portraiture or even casual snapshots a priority. I grew up with no photographs of my family or my life. Even when my mother was diagnosed with cancer, we didn’t make it a priority. Hindersight is always 20/20. We just never took the time. It just wasn’t a big deal. Or at least it wasn’t until it was too late.
My brother is gone but my parents and I are still here. We are all getting older and you never know what life will bring next. My parents have taken up the hobby of traveling and we live 1200 miles away from them when they are home. Whenever we can all be in one spot, I have decided to make it a priority to capture my parents, the three of us as a family and as grandparents…before it’s too late.
(As a mom and a photographer, yes, I would have preferred different clothing choices for the kids but I would prefer have something than wait until we had more clothing options)