You would expect me, as a photographer, to proclaim my art as the most important thing in my life (family and friends aside, naturally). But I’d like to try to explain, on World Photography Day, why it should be important to you too.
This is me and my dad in Trafalgar Square when I was two years old. I don’t have many photographs of my dad, and even fewer of the two of us together. He was always the one taking photographs when I was growing up. Sadly, he died when I was 19, before my own interest in photography developed (if you’ll excuse the ill-timed pun).
It is one of my great regrets that I don’t have more photographs of him, making the ones I do have even more special. I have my memories, but memories fade as we get older, whereas a photograph is a permanent memento of a fleeting moment of time.
I can remember sobbing uncontrollably a few days after he died, trying to find the negative of my favourite photograph of the two of us, taken when I was 15. That may have been the moment I truly understood the value and meaning of photography.
This is why, at the risk of sounding preachy, I have never understood people who spend a fortune on weddings, parties and celebrations, then either forgotten about photography or scrimped on it. When the day is over all you have to remind you is memories…and photographs.
It’s the same with children. They grow up so fast that childhood is gone in the blink of an eye and it’s easy to forget what they were like when they were little. My two have grown up used to having a camera pointed in their face at any given moment. I have absolutely no idea how many hundreds of photographs I have taken of them over the years. They’ll have plenty to show their own children and grandchildren. And I hope they will never have to regret the lack of photographs of me when I’m gone.
I absolutely hate having my photograph taken, having massive image and body confidence issues as many women do, but I force myself to be in photographs with my children whenever the opportunity arises. This is us a couple of weeks go on our family holiday.
It’s not just about people either. Our house is full of photographs of places we’ve visited, reminders of happy travels. We look at them every day and smile.
Which brings me to the most precious and important photographs we own – our rogues gallery as we call it. These four studio portraits, each A3 in size, have pride of place on the wall at home where, every day, we look at them and marvel at our handsome, talented and quirky little blended family.
You might think they’d be the first thing I’d rescue if there was a fire, but you’d be wrong. They’re far too precious to risk losing. The digital files are backed up on hard drives and in the cloud. Every photograph I take, for myself or for clients, is backed up and stored safely in the cloud.
Never again do I want to experience that feeling in the pit of my stomach when a precious negative can’t be found. No, if there was a fire, the first thing I’d grab is my camera. Obviously. 🙂
Happy World Photography Day