“A Family Story – Why this photographer is so passionate about photography…”
A TRUE Story – One That Shows What Photography Can Really Mean
I want to tell you a true story – one that actually brings me to tears every time I tell it. This is my life, my family, my story…
First, I need to set the scene and say that my mother believed in photography and made sure that my brother and I had formal portraits created when we were babies to two years old. I still have those black and whites of me and have them nicely framed in my bed room. But, it seemed we never had a family portrait created.
We never had a formal professional portrait created of my family.
About 15 years ago, my parents divorced after both my brother and I had been on our own. I knew it was coming and wondered what took so long for them to make the decision to part ways. I had prepared myself for this and even made our family get our one and only family portrait together several years before. It was a chain store type photograph. But, I cherish it because it has all of us in it. And one of my mom and dad together. I cherish that photograph especially since they are divorced now – it means the world to me.
…A crisis warned me to take action and have those images created.
Several years later, after moving to Florida and starting my own photography studio, my dad developed heart disease and had several emergencies that he pulled through just fine. But, he has a pace maker and I worried everyday that we didn’t have a professional portrait of my dad, brother and I. Since my mom and grandmother live in the same town as I do, when my brother came to visit, we created some wonderful images of all of us. So, I had this horrible feeling that I needed to get updated images of my dad, brother and me as soon as possible.
Something kept telling me to get those portraits created and not to wait.
Finally, in Christmas of 2002, my father and brother visited me and I took some family images. I cherished the memory of the moments that photographs were created even more. Those photographs are priceless. I can’t even imagine what it would be like not to have those photographs of my dad, brother and me and then some of mom, brother and me. They decorate my office and I look at them every single day – they are some of my most prized possessions.
Well, a month after that reunion, something happened that truly no one expected being the healthiest of all my family. I was rushed to the emergency room because of abnormal bleeding and severe pain. They found a tumor on my kidney and for several weeks we didn’t know if I had cancer or not. They removed my left kidney and we waited 4 days to find out if I had cancer. I finally found out that I was of the one percent that didn’t and all is well, but I was so thankful we had the opportunity to create those memories of our family. And spend time together. Even my mom and dad were able to be friends after all these years.
During that time all I could think of was how grateful I was that my family was together just weeks before. And we had photographs created together.
Life has a way of distracting us from what is truly important. And to me sharing time with those I love and having visual memories of them just confirmed what my mom always believed. That nothing is as timeless as a professional portrait of those you love.
Fast forward to 2016. The year that literally changed my life forever!
We sold our home to build our dream retirement home and on the weekend prior to having to be moved out, the week of Christmas, I noticed Danny limping very strangely. I kept telling him something was wrong but he said it was just his back. I knew it wasn’t that. I’ve seen how his back hurt. Then he lost his way back home from the rental we were moving into while we built. By Sunday Danny admitted something was wrong and he asked to take him to Shands thinking it could be a mini stroke or something. We went and that was the beginning of the worst journey of our life.
He was diagnosed with brain cancer that afternoon. He never left the hospital, I had to find someone to help move the rest of our house while he prepped for surgery. Surgery went well, they removed the tumor but what they didn’t say was the hell we were about to go through in the coming months. Of course Shands wanted him to go into chemo/radiation therapy as soon as he healed from surgery. But Danny wanted to go a more natural route. I totally supported him and even suggested that route. So, we ended up in Mexico for 3 weeks. It looked good for 10 months and he even did a round of radiation to make sure they got it all. But the cancer came back with a vengeance and took his life December 10th, 2017.
My World Changed Forever That Night.
I lost my best friend, my partner, my lover. Never could I have even thought I would have my life change so dramatically. I was so lost at first. Then I desperately looked for an image that captured this man’s personality. And I did. Funny it was a test shot I needed for a session with a high school senior. Danny had on that old, worn t-shirt he wore when working outside. But that smile, that pose, was him through and through. This is the Danny I will always remember.
Those very stories sums up the reason I became a photographer. Creating photographs that mean that much to people – I can’t imagine anything that would make me feel more fulfilled as an artist.
This Experience Confirmed To Me That The One Thing That Can Never Be Replaced – That We MUST Hold On To
Are The Memories We Share With Those We Love.
Life is so terribly short. But, at the same time, life is such a wonderful gift. And the memories we keep of these moments with our family will last forever.
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