Apr 12, 2013

The pictures at a funeral.

If you take photos of people for very long, it is inevitable that someone will eventually ask for photos to use in a funeral slide show.  Whether for your own family member or someone else's, it is a reminder that, in a way, being a keeper of the photos is a sacred trust.

This is my uncle Everett, who died unexpectedly in 2011.  When I was growing up, he was they guy at family gatherings with a camera.  He encouraged the photo bug in me, including the gift of a nice lens as a high school graduation present.  He also hated having his picture taken.

The fact that photographs outlast us and somehow keep our legacy and image intact after we are gone is part of why we pick up a camera, right?  It isn't something we like to think about, but each and every person in front of our lens is going to be a memory at some point.

I was reminded of this because of the murder of our Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia.  Less than a year before, Mike and Cynthia attended a military veterans appreciation event in Terrell, where we had a photo booth set up.  At the time, it never would have occurred to me that in less than a year, they would be gone.

So, four points..

First, try to make good pictures that capture something of the personality of subjects.  That will be the  photos that hold value when someone is no longer able to make an impression.

For example, the lighting isn't great for this shot, the background is distracting among other things, but this shot of Mike and Cynthia carries something about them and their relationship that the shot above does not.
Veterans Appreciation Event 2012-175

Second point ... catalog and keep your images in a place that you can find what you need on short notice.  It is hard to do, really.  Especially cell phone photos, Instagram posts, Facebook photos etc.  It is worth the time and effort.  Also, make sure someone else knows where your archive is.  The next person to die may be you!

Family friend and great man Kent, died unexpectedly in 2011.

Becky L.  Counselor and educator. Tremendous influence on countless lives. Died earlier this year.

Beth J.  Amazing lady and childrens minister in our church.  Died in 2011 after a battle with cancer.

Third point ... Snapshots are great.  Sure, we talk about lighting, moment, expression, backgrounds, cameras, etc. etc. etc.  But after someone is gone, that matters a lot less.  Even the cheesiest snapshots may turn into treasured memories when you can't make any more.
This is our dear Grandma Moore, who we miss greatly, died in 2009.

Finally, it is also a good idea to spend some time digitizing old prints and other artwork.
Easttexasphoto Blog
A painting of my grandmother, who died in 2002

OK, Go forth and take photos.  And keep in the back of your head that we are all temporary.  And, if you want to be remembered, make sure someone gets pictures of you as well.

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