Friday, November 4, 2011

Ever Seen a Million Dollar Picture??

At first glance, you probably wouldn't think that this picture is worth a million dollars but it is. This is a picture of my family. 

Growing up, we weren't the type of family that did the sit down family pictures at Olan Mills. Granted, my mother did hot roll my hair one time, forced me to wear a frilly dress and made me pose with my sister and my great-grandmother (who wasn't exactly oozing with sweetness) for a few shots but we didn't keep the local photographer in business. We'd moan, gripe, run and complain every time that mama would bring out the camera. You'd think that she was cutting out our kidney to make us stop for a picture. She'd tell us how we were going to be glad that she did one day and I'd silently say to myself that she must be a closet drinker if she thought that were true. For anyone who has ever seen my childhood picture, I had a tooth that was in another zip code from the rest of my face and would allow me to eat corn through a fence. The last thing that I wanted was to remember that! At least, I thought that was the case. 

We went home for Mother's Day in 2006 and, as was always the case, Tanya and I drug our cameras along. None of us were dressed up or had gone too much out of our way to look presentable but Tanya suggested that we snap a few pictures. Immediately, the griping ensued. "I'm fat. I don't want to have my picture taken". She seemed to ignore everything that I said to her and pushed us all together for a couple of pictures anyway. We made it through the whole process unscathed for the most part but I was thankful that it was over. 

Tanya played around with the camera a little more and snapped this picture of my mama and daddy. 

I liked the pictures (with my fat head and all) and we printed them and stuck them in a drawer at home. Life went on and I didn't think a whole lot about them. I intended to put them up but you know how you get lost in the mundane stuff of every day and things like that just don't seem as high up in importance as compared to the new episode of Modern Family that is coming on. I kinda forgot about them for a while. 

We went back home for Christmas of that same year. My daddy had been sick for quite some time and he died on Christmas morning. As you can imagine, it wasn't our happiest of holidays but the time together started to seem a little more special. I don't know that we took a single picture the rest of the time that we were there but I wish that we had. To my knowledge, the picture that Tanya took of all of us together on Mother's Day of that year is the only picture that I have of our family altogether and I wouldn't take a million dollars for it. (I would, however, sell reproductions of it for less than that because my mama and daddy didn't didn't raise no fool!)

I came home one day and Tanya had put those pictures in a frame beside our bed. It kinda felt a little bit like a punch in the stomach when I first saw it because it was easier to have it out of sight so it wasn't always on my mind but I truly appreciated the sweetness behind the gesture. I began looking at that picture every morning when I got out of bed and it began to make me smile more and more. I started to focus more on the happy memories instead of the sad ones. We always laughed a lot in my family and the simple things that kept us in stitches became the association that I had when I looked at that picture. I remembered my sister's impromptu clogging routine during dinner one night, when daddy tripped over the bar stool coming in the door one day and mama's nosedive when she tripped over the water hose in the backyard. Every time those things cross my mind, I can't help but to laugh out loud. It was these pictures that made me realize the power of a photograph. A quick snapshot had the power to hold a memory that could, at first, reduce me to tears and then suddenly change to offer me side-splitting bouts of laughter. Amazing that could be accomplished by an inanimate object that hangs on a wall. 

I try to remember how happy that picture makes me every single time that we go out to do a session for a family. I can compare our work to more accomplished photographers and be the first to admit that their technique is often better. Some of their images are more crisp and our color could be tweaked a little from time to time. But, I want people to have a really fun memory of the day that they spent together with us. I want them to remember laughing about smelly armpits......

or, a grandmother's special trick for evoking a laugh from her family.....

or, the occasional uncouth joke here and there......

or, the really sweet smell of a baby's skin......

or, how the very sound of your voice could make your child's face light up completely....

or, how it felt to be young and totally & completely in love....

or, how it feels to be not quite as young but still totally & completely in love.....

My friend and AMAZING photographer, Amanda Summerlin of, told me that she keeps a saying taped to her computer monitor that says, "these people will be grandparents one day". What a cool thought! What we're doing here isn't just earning some extra cash for a posed smile of your kids looking all well-behaved. What we're shooting for (no pun intended!) is to help you remember the laughter and personality of the people that you're blessed to call your family. 

So, whether or not you choose us or someone else to take your pictures, TAKE pictures! Get out your own cameras and start snapping! The time is going to pass and you're going to look back one day and wish that you did. Don't gripe about the heat or the cold. Don't wait until your hair is perfect or you've lost 10 pounds. Laugh with your family and smile every time you pick up that picture and remember what you were laughing about. 

Those lines around your eyes showed that you've lived a life that gave you smiles. Those extra pounds show that you spent time around the table, laughing with the people that you love. Those hairs out of place show that little boys just aren't all that concerned with grooming but are much more serious about playing. Take the pictures that show that you're living a wonderful, wonderful life!

During the start of this holiday season, when we finally stop and give thanks for so many things, Tanya and I want to say a sincere, heartfelt "thank you" to everyone who has done pictures with us, shared your time & family with us and given us more laughs than we could imagine! We appreciate every single one of you and hope that we've given you lots of million dollar pictures, too!

Love to you all.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, I'm crying! You guys are awesome and so are your pictures! Keep up the great work!