Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Value of a Photograph

I've been meaning to write this post for a long time, but it's taken me a few months to process my thoughts. My 28 year old cousin passed away unexpectedly in May. Her amazing and beautiful sister also passed away unexpectedly two years prior. These events have left a huge hole in my family's heart. These were amazing and beautiful women, who brought more light to the world and amazed me with their strength.

Megan was my "baby" cousin. I loved using that term because she was the youngest in the family, and I was second youngest, so I felt "older" growing up, even though we are only a year apart. We saw each other a lot when we were younger. I loved visiting her and Jennifer in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. They used to have a house on the beach. You could walk out the back door and be right on the lake. Megan and I would play for hours in the sand. We would "bake" sand cakes in our sand oven and decorate them with sticks and rocks. She even ate a piece, once. I can still see her crunching sand in her mouth and me staring at her in bewilderment.

I don't own a photograph of Megan. Not one. There are a few photos in my parent's house of us together growing up, but we are probably 5 and 6 years old. As we grew up, we kept in less touch with each other. I would see her post on Facebook now and then, but we weren't close. When her sister Jennifer passed away, I just ached for her. I tried more than ever to be there for her. When she passed away I turned to Facebook to look through all of her pictures, not believing she was really gone. Somewhere along the line of all of the Facebook changes, her photos were not preserved well. They were all really small and you couldn't see them very well. They are pretty much useless.

I asked my uncle for a good photo of her at her funeral. He gave me a beautiful portrait of her. It was just a snapshot, but it was lovely. I decided to digitally paint it. It's something I've been dabbling in, and I'm not very good at it yet, but to me it was a great way to keep a portrait of her for myself. One that won't get lost in the digital age. One that I can print, frame, hang in my house and enjoy. She was a real piece of God's Art. Now she can be my art too.

Digital painted portrait from photograph, The value of a portrait

You can't put value on a photograph or portrait after someone is gone. They become invaluable. They are memories that your mind can't possibly recall in quite such detail. A lot of people think, "I really need all of my photos digitally so I can save them forever". And then a hard drive fails, or facebook mutilates them in the latest update, or a server crashes, or they sit in a drawer not appreciated.

I encourage you to laugh, love, and take pictures often. Take those silly selfies with your friends when you are out. Save them. Back them up. Print them out and enjoy them. Treasure them. You never know when the ones you love will be gone. Take the opportunity now to get photographed. Hire a professional to get your whole family.

I have many more stories about the value of photography, but I will save those for another post. One that is not so long as this! Thank you for taking the time to read about one reason I love what I do the most. To make lasting memories for my clients.

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