Last fall I photographed a family portrait session. That’s not surprising, I photograph lots of families every year, especially before Christmas. This one was different however. During the Portrait Consultation where we discuss and design the entire session, I learned that the father was dying. It might take 3 months, it might take a year…maybe even a year and a half if he was lucky, but he was dying and there wasn’t anything the doctors could do about it. They were giving him blood transfusions to prolong his life, but eventually even that wouldn’t work. Talking through tears the daughter told me of her father’s health issues.
That portrait was going to be the last one ever taken of the complete family. The entire family new why they had chosen to do the portrait at that time…..there simply was no more time left to procrastinate. Like many people, life was busy for them an they just kept putting off having their family photographed. “We’ll do it next summer, or in the fall, etc, etc”. Now I did my best to get them laughing and joking and to make the entire session fun and to make them all forget the fact that their time with dad was running out quickly. They thanked me after the session and again after they had placed their order and one more time when they picked up their completed wall portraits and gift images. I was really happy that they were pleased with what I did for them, but I was also pleased that we were able to create those precious portrait memories before it was too late.
When I was working at a studio in BC I was told of a family that had their portraits taken the year before. The week after the portrait session that father had passed away suddenly. The family was very happy that they had the chance to create this portraits while their father was still with them. In between the time they placed their order and the portraits were ready one of the son in-laws was killed in a car crash. In a matter of a few weeks their entire family was devastated by the lost of not one but two family members. How valuable do you thing those portraits are to that family? I bet I could offer to buy them back for 10 times what they paid for them and they would refuse. Those portraits were not expensive…they turned out to be priceless! The memories that those portraits give the rest of that family are far more precious than money.
What I’m trying to say here is that you never know what life will bring you. It’s easy too procrastinate and push having your families portraits created to sometime down the road…..but what if there is no down the road? What happens if something happened and you were not able to ever create amazing portraits of your family that you can cherish forever? I talked to a woman today to plan her portraits and it put this blog topic into my mind when she said ” It’s the perfect time…. Grandma is still healthy and the dog s still alive.” She was joking of course, but the sad reality is that for a lot of families that can not be said. So don’t put off until tomorrow creating cherished memories of outstanding family portraits as you never know what the future may bring.