All too often, I’m reminded of how important what we do actually is. Yesterday, I received the sweetest card from one of our couples whose wedding we photographed last year, and in it was a photograph I took of the bride’s mom and grandpa (who, sadly, just passed away) embracing. The note was so unexpected and so beautiful – it brought me to tears. James asked me to read it to him, and honestly, I could barely get out the words, because I was crying so much as I attempted to read through it. I don’t know if they realize how much this note meant to me, but it meant the world… and I wanted to share.
She said, “Christy, I just wanted to let you know that we are thinking of you during this difficult time and wishing there was something that could be done to lessen your sadness and bring you comfort. Perhaps it’s of some comfort to know that your work does this for others. This photograph that you took at our wedding tells such a story and it’s something that we all are holding onto as we go through it ourselves… I can’t tell you how much this means to me. Please take care of yourself and allow yourself time to work through your loss.”
It was the most beautiful reminder, and actually did bring me comfort to know that our images help others cope in times like this. I can’t tell you how many times our sweet clients have lost loved ones after their weddings and written to say how thankful they are to have the photos we took of their dad, their grandpa, their grandma, their mom, enjoying that day with them. Candid moments… interactions… hugs… kisses… or a look… evidence that they were here with them, and they were loved.
Last week as I was going through all of our personal photos to find images of my grandma for her memorial services that are happening early next week, I was so thankful that I was the crazy photo person who documented so many moments. I was so thankful that we had these images to remind us of who she was. Of course we don’t NEED them to remember, but the images make the memories more vivid, more real… at least for me.
Those of you that are on Facebook may have seen the image above that I posted of me painting my grandma’s nails a couple of Christmases ago. It’s funny, because I may not have recollected this memory had it not been for the image I stumbled across. It got me thinking about how when I was growing up my grandma was meticulous about caring for and painting her fingernails. I’d watch her filing and painting away at my parents’ table when she and my grandpa were visiting, occasionally letting me use her files and polishes myself. So when I had my recently acquired giant nail polish collection out a couple Christmases ago and she asked if I would paint her nails (since she couldn’t do it as well as she used to), I was so honored that she asked.
She picked out a color from my collection (Essie’s Penny Talk), and I painted away as carefully as possible. I remember not wanting to mess it up because I knew how careful she was about polishing them when she did it herself. I remember apologizing for being a bit clumsy about it, and my grandma just reassuring me that I was doing such a great job and how thankful she was to have me do them. It is a moment that I didn’t think about all that much as it happened, but now that she is gone it has come to mean the world to me, along with the image documenting it. It’s funny – because it wasn’t until after she passed away and I saw this image that I realized that my interest in nail polish was most likely because of her (since nobody else I can think of really did their nails around me much when I was growing up). And it’s funny because even though we do this for a living, occasionally I forget the power that photography truly has…. the power to help us remember, to comfort us in times like this, and to evoke emotions we were feeling on a specific day at a specific moment when a photo was captured.
It is with this renewed awareness that I am approaching every wedding and every session we shoot. I’ve always been aware of the power of photography, but experiencing its power myself has reminded me once again never to take for granted what we do. It has me feeling immensely humbled that people continually trust us to document their memories for them to hold onto and pass on for generations. We are eternally grateful for the opportunity. xoxo