Have you ever lost someone? Someone you loved deeply? Years later when you come across their photo you are instantly taken back to a moment in time with them. The colors, the emotion, the warmth of their presence floods over your heart.
When I first started doing digital photograph... I started when I was 13 with film and did this for 10 years before the digital photograph was created. When I started shooting digital I took the lazy approach and just gave all my clients their images on a CD. I call it lazy because I did not do the work to find the best art out there. That would take time, energy and money. Like I said... I was lazy back then. I would do 7 sessions a day. Only spend 45 minutes with my clients and I never took the time to really know them. In just a few months God took me on a difficult path to understanding.
My first difficult call came from an 18-year-old. She lost her mother when she was 16. I had done, the families last family photo right before their mother lost her battle with cancer. We knew at the time of the session her time was limited. I rushed to get the image edited and on a CD and in the mail to her. We did create one large family fine art gallery wall art... that was not enough. The CD was lost and all of the special images I took of the mother with each child gone. Her story, their last story with her gone. I was crushed and in a ball on the floor crying. It had been years and that hard drive I backed up images on had crashed.
I had nothing to offer this now 18-year-old desperately trying to hold onto her memories of her mother.
My second call came just weeks after... "V" was losing her battle and her husband called for me to come to the house to say goodbye. I walked in and her home was filled with loved ones saying goodbye. I scanned the room and quickly fell to the side of her bed. Her husband said 'it's ok to hold her hand and tell her your here, she knows'. I told 'V' I loved her and how grateful I was she took the chance on me... a stranger that approached her in the mall and gave her my business card. I was nudged that day to give a complete stranger my card. I would have never thought in a million years, it would have been my first boudoir session in a grand home with a winding staircase, chandeliers, a husband waiting in a tux to be her arm candy!
What I have never shared public is this. The day of her session her husband had gone upstairs to change. I was standing in front of the fireplace looking at all the photos of their son. He had lost his battle about 5 months before 'V' and I had met. As I was standing their V had come up from behind and wrapped her arms around me so tight I could not budge. She did this so I wouldn't turn around and see her face. So I could not see the tears flowing down her cheeks. V hugged me tight and said 'today's photos are special. It's my last story. It's what I am leaving my husband'.
I broke the hold and turned towards her. With a very confused look on my face, I asked 'what are you telling me'. V replied that she was busy helping her son fight his cancer that hers had returned. She thought it was too late. Her husband was coming back into the room. We both wiped the tears and went on... my heart was bursting the rest of the shoot and we both could have won an Oscar for not showing the emotional journey. I look back and I know her husband knew as he started taking cell phone photos and video footage of us. He could tell a very special bond had taken place.
We started going to lunch at least twice a month. She was fighting her cancer and we thought was winning... but that fleeting moment was gone quickly. Within a very short time frame, her cancer was consuming her body but not her light.
It was a few days after she went home that her husband called in a panic. The CD was broken and all the images gone. This time I was lucky as I had them backed up on a drive that was still working. I made a promise to a husband that night. I made a promise to myself that night. I made a promise to all my clients yet to come that night.
I will do the work. I will edit all the images. I will do the research and find the best labs in the world to work with. I will offer the best fine art products in the world so that this art we create will outlive both my subject and myself.
I am asked all the time if I offer digital files. I share these stories why I don't just give files.
The artwork on the walls, fireplace, desk are the treasures. It's been 20 plus years since I lost my father and I only have a handful of portraits of him. My mother, I have a few more only because I pushed her to let me snap away and I am extremely grateful for that.
I lost my nephew a few months ago and it has left a gaping wound on many of our hearts. When his father sent me a text saying 'thank you for your God-given talents and for all the beautiful portraits I have in my home of my family'. When he said this it hit my heart hard. Just recently I have been thinking I need to leave photography. I lost my mother 3 years ago and I have struggled. She was my business coach, my accountant, my creative inspiration. I use to look at books, magazines and online at images all the time with her. She would ask me "what is it you see in the photo that pulls you in"? For years I was a custom to her inspiration and the kick in my ass when I needed it.
I lost my kick and I felt like maybe my time holding the lens was gone.
My talent is a gift from God. It's deep in my heart to take photos. I do it all the time. I do it all the time regardless if my camera is in my hand or not... I can't stop seeing the perfect frame. The perfect light on the beautiful subject before me. All the time thinking of the next session. What I can do creatively. I listen deep within my heart during the session of what I am not seeing in with my eyes.. what it is that my heart sees.
I was born to do this. My mother was the best coach ever. She coached me enough to keep going even after she was gone.
When I first started, I want to quit. When digital came out I wanted to quit. When things got tough and did not go as planned I wanted to quit. Thank god I stopped counting how many times I wanted to quit.
I didn't quit because this is what I was born to do! I take hundreds of pictures daily and I have been doing this since I was 13.... and I still get excited to see what I created. If I got the shot I wanted. I still get giddy like it's my first time pushing down the shutter.
I still walk in the door after every session and quickly download what I took. When I get on the plane, I am doing this before we even take off. It's the rush of joy that comes over me seeing what we created. I love seeing your story unfold in this art.
If you have ever felt like quitting, I hope you know you're not alone. Find your tribe. Find your coach that will keep you on track.
I know this to be true. If you are passionate about something that makes your heart beat a little faster. That gives you a flood of joy. That keeps you up at night. Then you found your purpose.
When you are thinking about what you desire to do, your dream, don't let fear step in.