I sometimes watch my siblings take what seems like an excessive amount of pictures of their children. My nieces and nephew, all under the age of six, are adorable and lively and great photo subjects, but I always wonder if their parents are missing out on actually interacting with them for the sake of grabbing the “perfect” photo.
Quality photos are fine, but isn’t time with mom and dad better?
However, I recently read a post from one of my favorite photography web sites that changed my perception of the situation. Something as mundane as a baby picking up Cheerios might be the last time he or she does so. It might be the last smile.
I am not going to shoot family photos for fear that every relative might soon leave us. But it happens.
My father was a notorious family photographer. Long before the digital camera, my dad shot rolls and rolls of 35mm film. He made slides, shot video and had a huge closet devoted to these relics of our families past.
My dad died of a heart attack nearly 10 years ago. He was 54. I was 18. As we prepared for his funeral, it became clear that almost none of our family photos contained my dad. He was always behind the lens. My uncle, also an avid photographer, searched through his collection and gave me photos of my dad that he had taken over the years. Those photos are priceless and become even more important as time fades my memories.
This Christmas, my sister surprised the family with a compilation of some of my dad’s slides converted to CD. I sometimes feel sad that I never had more opportunities to share long conversations with my dad, to understand his life and how he saw the world. These pictures offer me that opportunity.
Pictures capture a moment and freeze it forever, remaining in our lives long after our loved ones are gone. And even if those people are not in the picture, they are a part of it.