Why a Portrait is more important than you think
One of my wishes in this life was to have seen a stunning portrait of my great grandmother Anna. She had gorgeous blue eyes with long silvery white hair that she would pull up in a headscarf every day. I always wondered how she looked without the wrinkles and white hair. It will remain a mystery to me and of course, it didn’t help that my family could not recall or describe what she looked like at a more adolescent age.
Portraits captured for your self-celebration, wedding, family, and career are worthy investments. Lamentably, most of us only appreciate the need to hire a professional to shoot our weddings, engagement and family (if they are lucky). The rest of our memories can be journaled with a camera phone. Endless selfies are stored on our phone devices but do they go on your wall or printed for an album. Have you considered, what will happen to your images over time and if it will still be usable? A classic example is the data stored on videotape or even CDs. I have a couple of CDs that I cannot use on my MAC laptop… just imagine.
I always admired my Aunt Patsy’s wall of portraits, and recently I asked her why she possessed one. She shared that the Wall tells a story and that she can stay connected with her loved ones by reminiscing and appreciating them on a daily basis. She also has lots of photos in albums, but they weren’t in arm’s reach whereas the Wall was readily visible.
A photographer Jeanine Thurston shared a letter that she received from a client that powerfully illustrates the value of photography. Here’s the letter she obtained:
Today I am writing for a couple of reasons. I have some quiet time at the moment and need to get a couple of things off my mind. I will leave this for my husband to deliver to you when he is ready.
You photographed my wedding; you photographed my first pregnancy and my first baby. I contacted you awhile back to photograph my 2nd child and family. After getting prices and realizing I would want all of the pictures as we love your work – I decided against spending $500+ – which is what I normally spend for portraits and prints with you… Please know it is not because I don’t value your amazing eye, or how much we love the experience.
That week that I decided to NOT do a session with you, this is how I spent some money.
On Sunday I called and cancelled our session. Monday I went out and got my hair cut ($39+tip), and coloured ($65), Thursday I had my nails done ($24), my family went out to dinner at a somewhat expensive restaurant for no particular reason costing us $79 + tip. This was just 4 days since cancelling our session, already totalling over $200 for unnecessary things. My nails only lasted about 2 weeks, my hair is gone, and seven weeks passed when I got the phone call from our doctor. It was not something I expected and the cancer has spread very quickly. I will be leaving my husband, my 6-year-old girl and my now 2-year-old – not by choice. It is very hard for me to talk about it which is why I need to write you.
I watch your Facebook page and your posts about the value of a photo and if I could give back all of those things that I purchased these few weeks after I cancelled my session with you, knowing what I know now and have that session, well… I would do it in a heartbeat.
Now my time is done and there are no more chances for me. The next time someone cancels a session – my wish is that you forward this letter to them. Time is fragile, it is gone before you know you had it. If you charged $200 for one print it wouldn’t be enough for what it is actually worth. I cringe to think that my priorities were a manicure over a memory to pass onto my babies and husband.
My love and thanks for what you have given us from past photos. I am so sorry that I did not see it as more than paper until now.
Wow, that was moving for me. The life we are given is pretty short and when you have the opportunity, celebrate your milestones with a photographer and leave a legacy behind for generations to come.