At the recent Professional Imaging Show in the Netherlands, one of the talks I gave was about The Importance of Photography; something I never thought, as an ex Bodybuilder, ex Plasterer, ex Doorman, I would ever talk about, but here’s why…
If you listen to our HE SHOOTS, HE DRAWS Podcast you may recall episode 42 (LINK) where I chatted with my lifelong friend Nathan Black and his near death experience when going through 2 kidney transplant operations; an incredible episode about mental strength!
During the chat Nathan mentioned how incredibly important his family are to him, so shortly after the podcast and without Nathan knowing, I arranged a photo shoot with his parents and his children so that I could give him the pictures as a Christmas present. Needless to say when I saw him on Christmas Eve (24th) he was overwhelmed. Such a great morning with him chatting also to his parents whom I’ve known since I was about 6 years of age. However, no one expected what was to happen soon after…
Just a few days later I received a text from Nathan to say that his Dad had died. Sure he’d had some breathing difficulties when I saw him just 3 days earlier and was on medication for this but the family were making all kinds of plans for the future with stair lifts etc to make life easier, but what happened came like a bolt out of the blue. I couldn’t believe it. I felt numb but then I felt incredibly relieved that I had arranged the photo shoot and did take the pictures; the very last pictures of Dave (Nathan’s Dad) that I could give to Nathan and his family.
Along with my wife, I attended Dave’s funeral which in the Church was standing room only showing how popular Dave had been but at the end Nathan’s children came up to me and thanked me for arranging the photo shoot because had I not, it would have been over a month since they’d have seen their Grandad. The photo shoot was the last time they saw and spent time with him. It was a wonderful morning when we were all together for the photo shoot with lots of laughter.
I shared this with folks who are part of my email group and the response took me completely by surprise. So many emails from folks wishing me to pass on thoughts and love to Nathan and his family but also many emails from folks sharing very personal stories where they too had taken the last photograph of a loved one. One such email read as follows:
“Hi Glyn, your post regarding Nathan’s father stopped me in my tracks, so much so that I asked my wife to read it. I couldn’t agree with you more regarding the importance of photos and their value in our lives.
My wife and I were approaching our 25th wedding anniversary and the only thing we really wanted was a photo of our two children Jonathan and Jo-Anne together.
Unknown to us the children had arranged a photo shoot with the local professional and on the Thursday Jo-Anne, our daughter arrived home from university early to collect the proofs. Needless to say we loved the photos and also that they both had gone ahead and got it organised themselves.
That was on the Thursday, in the early hours of the Sunday morning February 29th, Jo-Anne died in a road traffic accident.
Needless to say that the impact on our lives was devastating and life changing. We all deal with these things very differently. My wife was much more open about her grief, where as I bottled thing up.
I eventually had to take a few months off work, as I was unable to concentrate, and I found my self in a very dark place which was only getting worse.
I decided I needed something to focus on. I enrolled at a local college to study for an HND in photography. I had a love for photography when I was at school and even when we were first married but hadn’t taken any photos for some years.
Re-discovering photography has helped me to cope with the loss of Jo-Anne. This February will be the 15th anniversary of her passing. I did well with the course which has re-kindled my love for photography. I organise a small camera club now and have made many wonderful friends through photography.
I don’t write this as something sad but to encourage you to keep doing what you are doing. You are a very genuine person and share so freely. Your world war 2 project is so very important and all those stories need to be told. As you have said, it’s something you have to do.
I don’t claim to understand why things happened the way they did. But I do believe that God has a plan for us all, and he has sustained my wife and I through it all. Our son, Jonathan is now married and we have two wonderful grandchildren Nathan and Sarah.
The photographs of Jonathan and Jo-Anne are priceless and our most treasured processions. A moment in time that can never be repeated, but can be enjoyed for ever.
Best Wishes to you.
As if I needed it, another recent incident also happened that stopped me in my tracks…
I’d recently photographed Walerian Jaworski; a delightful Polish gentleman that had served during World War and who when 13 years of age had been taken, along with his parents, from the family home by Russian Soldiers in the middle of the night, bundled onto a train and sent to a Labour Camp. His life story is truly an incredible. I spent time with him taking his portrait and making sure to get a photograph of him and his wife together, and afterwards we chatted about his life whilst drinking tea and eating cake. Delightful!
A couple of weeks later having sent prints to Walerian for him and his children as well as one to Maria who had initially introduced me to Walerian, I received a text message to say that sadly Walerian had passed away.
I kind of knew it already but things happening like this and reading the emails that were coming through confirmed it … Photography is so damn important and way more than kit and settings!
Now I don’t write this to depress you or anything like that … far from it; the reason I write this is as a reminder of how important photographs are. Sure we want to take the very best pictures we can with spot on exposure, detail, sharpness and perfect composition but do you know what?!?! I’d rather a blurry, poorly composed picture with less than perfect exposure of a loved one in favour of no photo at all, any day!
Take every opportunity to to take pictures of friends, family and loved ones. Grab a piece of paper NOW and write down the names of 5 people, be they family or friends or whatever, and make the call to arrange taking their portrait.
In the words of Nike … JUST DO IT!