These last few years, I've dealt with a fair bit of death, but not in the way you think. I captured some of the last portraits of the living. A last afternoon tea with mum. An unveiling of a man-cave for the bravest kid I've ever met. A renewal of vows to a loving wife.
These moments have been both some of the hardest and most rewarding moments of not just my photography career, but my life. They have shown me humility, and taught me to be grateful. Grateful of my art, of my skills, and my life. Grateful for the loved ones that I have not lost. Grateful that I could preserve cherished memories for those left behind, and those who didn't get to meet someone who was great.
After a meeting with colleagues last night, and sharing stories like the ones above, I took some time to reflect how truly grateful I am. I was privileged enough to preserve a memory for someone. They have images of that event to see that it happened, and the person now gone could say "I was here!"
Having also lost people suddenly, I know not everyone has a chance to cherish their 'last'. Not every family will get that final amazing memory. Which brings me to the point of this post.
Please, please, exist in images for your family.
If you died tomorrow, are there pictures of you? Beautiful, professionally taken portraits? Photos with your kids? Photos with your parents, your siblings?
Unfortunately, I have lost some people that never had a professional photo taken. In fact, they barely exist in photos. The few snapshots they are in are some of the most precious things I have now.
So take snapshots frequently. Take heaps of photos of your kids. Take a selfie with your sister. Sneak a photo of your spouse, of your mum or dad.
Because one day, your loved ones will be gone, and you will cherish every photo they were ever in. One day, you will be gone too, and your photos will be all thats left.
Update that family portrait, and include the whole family. Has it been 20 years since you had photos with your parents? Include them in your next portrait session. Consider a big extended family portrait, and capture each generation. Photograph your dogs and cats.
But don't just do it because you are someone's mum, dad, cousin, sibling or child.
Do it because YOU. ARE. SOMEONE.
Someone that deserves to be remembered.
Do it so you can say, "I was here".