As a photographer, I’m incredibly privileged to share in some of the most important and special moments in the lives of my clients. I’m present on wedding days, not just for the vows, but for all the tears and emotion and joy throughout the big day. I’m invited to capture the excitement of pregnancy, the joy of a new addition to a family, celebrations for christenings, engagements and milestone birthdays.
I know the responsibility that comes with this, and know the images I am capturing will be important to the people in them for many decades to come.
But one of the things you never find on my blog are the portrait sessions I’m asked to shoot to capture precious memories by families who are trying to beat the ticking clock because they know all too well how precious and fleeting life can be. Little children and babies with a parent or grandparent, for example, who has been given a poor prognosis for an illness and will be too young to remember that person later on – it never fails to rip me apart when I’m editing those pictures, knowing that these will be some of the only reminders left of their time together. Even adult children with a sick parent who realise it has been years, even decades, since they actually had a picture taken together.
Despite knowing this, you’d think I’d know better when it comes to my own family photos – just how important it is to have memories, especially for the kids to have as they grow up. We all think we have all the time in the world, but sometimes life throws you a curve-ball.
Last year my husband was ill and, long story short, had to have surgery that had a one-in-fifty chance of him not surviving. While those odds don’t seem so bad, it’s pretty terrifying to be facing as a family… it’s like Russian roulette. Would we be the unlucky one in fifty?
I realised that despite the fact I’m a photographer, I had hardly any photos of my husband together with our kids. I’m ashamed of this – I’m so busy capturing everyone else’s memories I put our own on the back-burner. At the time of his operation, our youngest daughter was only four. Like most four-year-old girls she absolutely adored her daddy, and the thought of him being ripped from her life absolutely gutted me to think about.
While the surgery was, fortunately, a success, it’s taken me a while to be able to go through all of the photos I took at a session a week before he went in for his operation. I was able to capture many poses with the four of them together and him with each of the girls individually. I won’t share the photos that include him for the same reasons I never blog these kinds of sessions of any other clients, but instead I’m posting some I captured of just the kids when we did the session.
I just wanted to share my story with you and tell you that if you are thinking of getting photos taken with your loved ones before a risky operation, before chemotherapy starts, before an illness progresses, please do it. The loved ones left behind will cherish them forever and be glad that you did it.