I am not sure when I realized the importance of taking photographs of loved ones as often as possible, but I know I have given many photographs of loved ones who have passed as gifts to those grieving. Each time I have done that I have been met with a sense of the most sincere gratitude and teary eyes. A photograph captures so much more than a memory, it captures a person and sometimes the right photograph can also capture who that person is.
I had a dream a few months ago that I was taking photographs of my father. My father passed when I was 12, long before I had my very first camera. In my dream I couldn't believe I had never thought to take photos of him before. I remember the lens I wanted to use in my dream. I carefully attached it to my camera and led him to his favorite spot on the couch by the huge window I used to look out of when I was very impatiently awaiting the arrival of my mom on her way home from work.
I captured his smile, his goofiness (that I have certainly inherited) and his kindness. When I woke up, I had a deep feeling of isolation from him. I knew I would never get the chance to take the photos I was so carefully crafting in my dream but the dream gave me a sense of urgency. I needed to photograph my mother. What if one day she passes and this dream becomes a reality with her too? I have photographed her before, but not since I bought my very first film camera nearly a decade ago and I had never done a portrait session with her that was focused on showing who she is in raw unfiltered moments.
I saw her a few weeks ago and asked her to come take a few photographs with me. She happily obliged. My mom is one of the sweetest people I know. Most people would never guess that she has had a very trying life. She didn't have an easy childhood or adulthood. She has seen more pain than anyone should. She hides her pain pretty well, but I can still see it in some of these photographs.
Here is the person most people see that don't know her battles.
This is my favorite photograph of the series. This is the comforting smile that I have received since I was a tiny, curly haired toddler. She has always been supportive and encouraging of my choices and who I am. When I was growing up, she always told me to do what ever I needed to do to be happy and she meant it. She treats me with love and respect even though that is not what she received as a child. This is the portrait that I am so thankful to have taken and I will continue to get portraits each time I see her. <3