Thursday, September 9, 2010

The most important picture part 1 - Pittsburgh Wedding Photography

The most important picture is the one you take and is kept cherished for many generations. This is a picture of my mom and dad from over 50 years ago.  (This post is not to be morbid but is meant to encourage each of us to take photos, share photos, and understand their value and importance in the lives of generations to come.)

My mom died last week (Sept. 2, 2010) at the young age of 73 and this is one of hundreds of photos she kept from our family's history.  She kept photos from her childhood and of people that unfortunately, I will never know.  Sunday, I spent a few hours scanning and cleaning images of her life.  Why did it take so long?  Because I spent hours looking at and crying over each one cherishing their value.  The actual time it took to scan and clean the images (remove dust, scratches, etc) might have been 1/10th of the time I spent with the images.  I could not take my eyes off each image.  It is a part of my families history and I will do everything possible to preserve the images for my children, grandchildren, and future generations to come.  We have pictures from their wedding nearly 56 years ago and other images dating 65+ years ago. 

Although we have hundreds of images that my mom and others took and thousands that I took, I am looking for more.  Images that never were taken.  Images that I wish we  I insisted we take.  

My sister asked that I create a table top album of our parents lives.  Although it will be a daunting (not because of the work involved but because of the tears involved) task, it will be a work of love.  I encourage everyone that reads this post to understand the value of pictures that we take today for future generations.  No doubt when this image was taken, my parents like the image.  However, there is little doubt in my mind that this image was looked at for years by my parents (their wedding picture is still on their wall) and its value today is thousands times more than the few cents it cost to print this image over 50 years ago.

The walls, shelves, refrigerator door, and any other holding place, is filled with photographs of our lives.  It includes pictures of when my sister and I were growing up, my children, grandchildren, relatives, and people I don't know.  

Many of the images are 'poor' quality that were taken with a Polaroid with a harsh flash or instamatic camera and no flash.  However, there are many excellent images taken with better cameras and by professional photographers.  Regardless of the quality of the image, they are a treasured image and a part of my families heritage.

I am sure I learned the value of a photograph by observing the collection of images (but its complete value was manifested last week when my mom died) growing up and living in a household that took pictures not stop. 

When I cover a wedding or other significant event, I do everything possible to take pictures of everyone that wants or doesn't want their picture taken.  The value of the image might not be known until 50 years from now when their child or grandchild sits with the print in hand (yes print not digital file) and cries with tears of joy laughing at the outfit worn today.  They might sit and be thankful that someone took time to preserve a little piece of their families history by pressing the shutter, preserving a fraction of a second that will have value years into the future.

The value of a print is why I encourage families, couples, and everyone else to make/purchase prints and albums of their special day.  The wedding album isn't just an album but it is an heirloom that will have value thousands times its current value years from now.  

After I complete the album of my parents/grandparents, I will print a copy for each of our children.  Its value to them and their children (my grandchildren) will be priceless.  I can only image what will be said of the images 50-100 years from now when my grandchildren, great grandchildren, sit and look at the albums.  

I lost count of the times that I attempted to photograph someone but they didn't want their picture taken for one reason or another.  I get comments like, "I don't take good pictures".   That's okay.  I am taking the picture (is what I want to say) and the picture is for (fill in the blank - bride and groom, your mom, dad, sister, aunt, etc).  

I was talking to one of my wife's sisters over this past weekend and we both agreed on the same thing.  Regardless of what anyone else says, each family event will conclude with a group/family photo.  We will not care if the kids (big or little :-D ) don't want their photo taken.  There will be no one safe from the camera.  

For the funeral, I went through thousands I images that I took over the years and cried and laughed.  I looked at images of my father in law who died a few years ago.  I looked at images of my grandkids when they were just born or when my grandchildren were dedicated to the Lord.  I looked at images of my bride nearly 32 years ago and how young we were and marveled at my hair.  Where oh where did it go?  :-D

Mom, we will love you forever and a day!

What is the value of a picture?  In some cases, it is priceless. 


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about pictures. I know the tears, I shed them when my mom died. I have a box of photos in the garage that I mailed to myself from her house I have not yet had the courage to open. I don't know exactly what to do with them, yet,I am so glad I have them. Maybe your post will help me open and get them together to be see. Thanks for being so open and vulnerable. That always come through in your photography. Much love to you and your family! Robin Kruk

Unknown said...

Robin, thank you!


Sandy said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. You are so right about the importance of insisting we take certain family photos. As photographers we know how important these images will be someday, and we are the record keepers of the family. I have even started to include more pictures of myself, for my daughter's sake, even if I hate being in pictures. Thanks for sharing.