“Get the picture before they’re gone…”

Why I do what I do.

On March 5 and 6th, I attended my very first photography conference… The Reset Conference.  It was a full two days of speakers, networking, note taking, and talking about our passion in photography. One of the first speakers joked that we were in the company of “our people”. What we were talking about, only we could understand and relate to each others’ excitement and terminology. I can’t even begin to explain how much I learned and soaked up information like a little sponge.

During one of the sessions, specifically, Bre Thurston’s, a photographer from California, Un-posed: A Lesson on Moments, Joy & Happiness session.  She told a very emotional story about her journey and struggle as a new young wife and mom. Of how she turned her hobby/passion her own successful photography career.  It was like I was listening to little snippets of my own journey.  When she told the emotional twist about her Dad passing away and how much she now treasures the pictures of him. She used the words “take the pictures before they’re gone”.

This made me emotional — trying to not bawl like a baby for an entire room of people I’ve just met. Although, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only teary eyed one but…

THAT’S IT! That’s why I love photography. She totally got it. She articulated it much easier than I ever have.

When I think about photography, and photography throughout my life, you can pretty much ask anyone who knows me or who has been around me for longer than a 24 hour period; they’d confirm, I almost always have a camera of some sort on me.  I love taking pictures.

In high school, I always had a camera. In addition to my point-and-shoot camera, at some point, I started using a video camera. I used my parent’s video camera until I was able to have my own.  I videoed everything! I’m so glad to have those memories now.  I remember taking the video camera to the first day of our Senior year. Our school did a ceremonial “senior walk” during the first day of school pep rally. It included the obligatory march and chant that every senior class had done before us. I have it on video.  These, of course, were the days before camera/video phones. I’m so glad to have those memories to relive.  I took the video camera to football and basketball games, homecomings, talent shows, gymnastics events, parties (yep, totally could caused trouble for those of us partaking in underage drinking- it happened, they’re memories- move on), trips and vacations.

It’s all about capturing memories and moments to remember forever. I always wonder if/when our kids will want to see mommy and daddy before we were their mommy and daddy.

I have fond memories of looking through pictures from when my parents were younger- and still do even though I’ve probably already seen them a few times.  I enjoy seeing the pictures of when they were growing up, in their families, with other friends and family, and even looking through my dad’s old fraternity photo albums. Some of these even include pictures of when my parents were still just dating. After almost 37 years of marriage, it’s fun to hear stories from those times. I even love looking through Casey’s family pictures and seeing him growing up with his sisters and family.

Especially now that we are starting a family, we will be raising our children with a little mixture of how each of us were raised and a few little changes of our own to fit “us”.  Casey and I come from a long line of happily married couples.  We treasure this. I certainly don’t have any judgments from couples who have a different family history we just enjoy ours.

As much as I love seeing my parents in younger years, I also love seeing pictures from my grandparent’s childhood and through the times when they were raising kids (each of my parents, aunts and uncles).  Luckily, my Dad was given boxes and albums from several generations back.

I consider myself to be an old soul anyways so I love to see how photography has progressed over past centuries.  Sometimes, I even like to picture (ha! pun-intended) myself in the old days. If I had a wall of pictures in frames, they would be the real old ones, and especially the black and wife images. I have an extensive collection of old cameras and a video camera dating back to the oldest camera I have from the 1920’s.  When I hold an old camera, I instantly think about what interactions that camera photographed.  I’ve even looked for film for some of the ones that are still working.

For both sets of my grandparents, you can see the love in their relationships up until the days each of my grandfather’s had passed away. When my mom’s father, (“Papa”), was overseas at war, my mom’s mom, (“Gram”), would send him beautiful posed sexy pictures of her. (Fortunately, for us, those made it into the boxes of family pictures.)  I think of this as her missing him and wanting him to remember she was at home waiting for him. At the very end, my mom captured a cell phone picture of her cuddled up with him in the hospice bed, hours before he left this earth.  I will never ever post this picture but I will always know that I have that last moment of showing their true love.

Now that each of my grandfather’s are gone, I am SOOO glad I’ve always been such a pain in the ass about “okay everyone to the living room for a picture” or “hey will you take this picture for me”.  On my mom’s side of the family the “cousin picture” was a yearly staple for us. Every year around Christmas time, the mom’s would drag all of us to Sears at the mall (in Chicago). Everyone was rarely on time, there were fights of who was riding in which car, we always had to round up the cousins who were off looking at whatever the store had for us to pilferage through or play with, inevitably someone was getting yelled at for messing around and not listening to the photographer, almost always someone forgot a item of clothing so the moms had to decide if it really mattered or if someone was going to go buy it in the mall, one of the girls had a snag in  their pantyhose… some may remember theses as nightmarish times; I remember them as memories of us all being together. Now we have the photographs to see the progression of adding family members and the ever so fashionable 80’s and 90’s clothing.

On my Dad’s side, pretty much every event was captured on an entire roll of 35 mm film.  Both of my grandparents were always taking pictures. Most of the time it was my Grandpa behind the camera. Sometimes, I can still hear his voice from old home videos.  Those videos (pictures) are all we have left. Hearing him still makes me cry. He and I were very close and he would literally do anything for his grandchildren. When we went to visit we were often paraded around town.  They were so proud to be grandparents.. and I loved every minute of it. He would often let me go out and take pictures of random things or I would take the pictures with their camera and they would get the film developed.  Truth: Grandma wasn’t the greatest photographer with her crooked shots, heads chopped off, or blurry images, but she certainly tried. She was usually great about putting together albums after the film was developed and making sure we always had copies.

As sad as it makes me to think about, neither of my grandfather’s were on this earth when I got married or had my first child. They also won’t be here when we have more children in the future. Fortunately, I have loads of pictures and videos to be able to show my child(ren) of two of the most amazing men from my life. I can’t help but be sooooo grateful to have my grandmothers still alive and have the opportunity to create memories and capture them on camera. After a while when those actual memories have been pushed to the back … not forgotten… but covered by a new memories… then I’ll have a picture to spark that memory all over again.

Get the picture before they’re gone. Is that morbid?  Nope, it’s a reality. You never know when your loved ones won’t be here anymore.

One day, my children will have all kinds of questions about how their Daddy and I first met, when we went on our first date, our Wedding, our honeymoon, and all of the fun times we have shared together when it was just us.  I can’t wait to share these memories with them and relive these happy times in our lives.

I am investing money (website, blog, marketing, workflow and editing programs, personalize gifts, props, lenses, etc), reading (blogs, books, workshop notes, literally everything, etc.), investing my time, and plenty of PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE with the hopes of bettering my craft. A craft that for so long I didn’t think I would ever be good enough to go from a hobby to a business. Is that not the American (professional) dream?! To do what you love to do on a daily basis. I’ve always had to have the “real job” to pay the bills, so I couldn’t ever really totally focus on photography. Now I’ve decided, in spite of being busier than ever (as a wife and new mom), I’m making the extra time whenever I can to make my passion a full time gig. Case and point… as I write this, Carter and I are sitting on the floor – well him laying and kicking the keyboard and while I multitask and entice him with toys and type on the laptop, stopping for giggle sessions. Annoying to some?! Me? I am literally living the life I’ve been waiting for. Having a professional passion using my own creativity and showing my personality is a dream come true.

I see everything as a photograph. What would be a normal daily setting to someone else, I see it as a photograph-able interaction.  I pay so much attention to colors and even more attention to lighting.

Admit it, you enjoy seeing posts on social media of what your friends and family are doing with their time.  Especially the posts that are accompanied by photos. They catch your eye. Of course there are “photography rules”, just like everything else in the world. However, when you add in your own personal preferences, I see that as others sharing their style and personality for their story. Yes, it’s true with the advancement of technology and camera phones, everyone is a photographer now but not everyone has the skills, opportunity, confidence or even interest to make it a career.

Everyone has a story. Mine started with Family and eventually Friends. Now it’s even more about my loved ones.

I promise, even if my hair isn’t done or my make up is all over my face after a long day, I will still “get the picture” before the opportunity is missed.

Stay Tuned …