life and death : news flash: i'm a professional photographer

nestled around the table, in my warm and airy, peace filled studio, gripping a cup of hot tea, there have been many discussions of death, impending death, and the almost death of loved ones.  

news flash:  i'm a professional photographer.

years ago, diving into the business, i never would have thought of such a tie

- the tie of life and death - and professional photography. 

"oh, you know! photography is fun!

it's feeling and emotion and it's art!  

it's a way to express myself.  and to make extra money on the side."

these things are all true.

but if you'd like a quick , stark reality check of what portrait photography really means, then i'll let YOU be a little of a fly on the wall, inside my portrait studio:

sitting across from me is a mom - a mom who had lost a child years ago...and she understands that the moments that you think are guaranteed, really are not.  and even though parents are supposed to die before their children, that this always doesn't happen.  and she sits there, with her senior daughter and her entire family, as they cry and laugh and hold tight to these moments of seeing the stunning images of her beloved daughter, and she tells me that she has INVESTED in what i do, because she understands the value of what i do.  

i'm on the phone with a young woman.  she's carrying her first child.  and after her father made it through a terrible bout of cancer, her mom was just diagnosed with breast cancer -that had spread.  and as positive as she tries to sound, her voice cracks as she tells me that they need portraits of her mom as she is now.  before the cancer takes her hair, and her energy.  and she tells me that she needs me to do this because she can't come back to this time ever ever again. 

i'm standing in the entry of my studio again.  i have just had an open house. it's been a light and merry day welcoming friends and clients into my studio.  and a friend walks in and asks me if i am able to fit her, her daughter and aging mother in for a session.  that they need to grasp the time right now while they can.  that they need an experience of pampering and beautifying and being together, memorialized for all time, but they need it shot now.  cash in hand, we set up a day for them.

and...i'm sitting in my mom's living room.  after losing my own father 10 years ago, i'm whispering to my mom about taking pictures of her and my step-dad.  my step-dad, who has silently been fighting cancer for a few years.  and with a sense of urgency, we talk about quickly getting a casual shoot together - just to have them - and then i stop.  and i tell her that i can't do that.  that it needs to be timeless, and it has to be a portrait - a portrait that shows their soul and that they can cherish.

i can go on and on.  

and you know what?  i i'm allowed to - i can.

i lost my dad at age 56.

i lost my sister in law last year unexpectedly at the age of 30.

and i nearly lost my stepdad quite a few times this past week.  

but in all honesty, all that said, portraits are about LIFE!!! 

about stopping that moment for all of time.  stopping a moment, in an image that you can never, ever get back and that you never, ever want to forget. 

it IS the christmas season. 

it IS the season that we search for the perfect gift.

it IS the perfect time to INVEST in the the gift of a life...and a timeless memory.