Recently I had the pleasure of photographing another high school senior. Not much of a big deal normally. Sure.. there were new clothes for the event, hair and make up done just so… but this was different from the first call.. When the mom first called for an appointment she seemed a bit off.. while we continued to talk she explained her confused state by simply telling me – the tumors in her head get in the way sometimes.
Yup. This is gonna be different.
They show up on time. Daughter with her handful of outfits, friend at her side for encouragement – mom with her head wrapped to help disguise the effects of her chemo treatments…
I’ve had moms get teary eyed during the first viewing session – watching their “baby” grow up instantly in front of them.. but never before has a mom teared up before I take my first photo. I click off a few images and play show and tell on the back of the camera… just to make sure we’re going in the right direction. Today I could have sold every one of those clicks. I could have sent the camera files straight to the printer – mom and her tumors would have devoured each and every one.
By the end of our couple hours mom is really ready to get home and rest. I head in and start the transfers and selection process. First I unusually eliminate every extra image that is not absolutely necessary. Today though, every one of those extra clicks, every one of those ever-so-slightly-different looks and smiles are impossible to eliminate. These are one of mom’s last chances to share a bit of normalcy, to share another milestone – her little girl’s senior pictures.
The sales session was even more different. Many of my folks come to me and want a few prints to give to their family.. hang one over the mantle. A bunch of wallets to exchange with friends. This session was different. This mom simply said, “I want them all.” All of them. She wanted every version of every image I had of her little girl… Her daughter of course was slightly embarrassed for mom and her emotional state — but for me it was one of the most gratifying, humbling experiences.
It’s no surprise why we want to capture moments in time with our loved ones… better to remember the first or last of many events… but it still surprises me how humbling it is… how honored I feel to be chosen to help folks I’ve often just met to preserve a little love to hold onto.
As for mom and her situation? She’s still making plans… I’m gonna get to photograph her younger daughter soon and with any luck we’ll be making three and four generation photos over the next few years. How cool would that be?