For eleven years as a scrapbook consultant I taught people about the importance of their family photos. I encouraged them to look at those photos and remember the stories behind them. I wanted them to keep those images in a special place where they would be preserved for years to come so that those stories would not be forgotten. I stressed the need to write those stories down because heaven knows we don’t know what the future holds for our memories, right? I personally think early onset dementia is creeping in here! Getting people to do this was not about my selling scrapbook supplies to them; it was about having them do something meaningful with their photos. Selling someone a box of supplies, only to have them shove them in the closet, made me feel like a failure.
Part of my frustration as a scrapbooker was realizing that everyone didn’t feel the same way about their photos as I did. Yet through all of the years I taught classes I know that they really do; they just don’t realize it! We all know that the first thing we would try to recover in a fire, after the personal safety of our family and pets, would be our photos! Even if you are not the type of person who will take the time to scrapbook, most people do value their photos. Some of us are just more cognizant of it than others. Its figuring out how to make people aware of how important photos are that has always been my challenge.
Now that I am a professional photographer I am experiencing the same frustration as I did before. I don’t know why this should surprise me. Nothing has changed about human nature and just because I have ratcheted up my passion doesn’t mean that everyone else on the planet has too! Trying to convince people that a custom portrait is a great way to capture a special time in a life is difficult in this digital age where everyone is snapping away with their iPhones. I love that everyone is doing this, because it means that they do believe that a photo helps tell a story and they are capturing those moments to help them remember something fun or interesting in their lives. However, these images seldom get printed; are at risk for loss from a hard drive crash and are mostly only shared on Facebook or through a mobile device. So my fear now is that instead of selling scrapbook supplies that sit in the closet, I sell images that sit on a computer hard drive or are stored on a CD on someones desk shelf. I understand the people want digital files these days so every digital package I sell comes with a set of prints, too. This way I can rest assured that at least one “hard” copy of each photo is in existence. What I really want to do though is have people purchase wall portraits, because I believe that showcasing your family on a wall is a great way to celebrate and share their story in a more tangible way.
I have several wall portraits in my home taken over the years of my children. Each one brings back memories and stories of a certain age or stage. When someone comes to visit me who hasn’t seen my children in a while, they see the recent images I have on display, and without fail, every one of them remarks about how much they have grown; how much they look like either myself or their father, or they relate a STORY about something they remember about them. I cherish these stories. Sometimes they are stories I already know, but sometimes they are gems that I get from someone else’s memory of my child. What a gift! So to be cliche, my wall portraits that are a gift that keeps on giving!
This image of my daughter Julie is one that I took as part of her senior portraits. Our dog Bailey came into her life when she was two and she was a bit terrified of dogs at the time because of some dogs who used to live close to us. Bailey quickly won her over and became her best friend. I took this photo at the beginning of her senior year. Bailey died right before Christmas. This photo is priceless to me and to her. When I see it I not only see her a grown young woman, I also see the timid 2 y/o who used to run from this puppy and hide!
If for no other reason than the fact that you will probably never put an iPhone picture up on your wall, please have a professional photographer take custom portraits of you and your family. As primarily a senior portrait photographer I recognize what an important time of life this is. A senior portrait shows who they are at this particular time in their life and highlights the excitement of what the future holds for them. My own mother has purchased and disposed of many decorative items over the years for her home, but she still proudly displays my own senior portrait thirty years later. I promise that the investment you make will never be regretted and the stories will keep on coming!