on remembering why we photograph

as a photographer, I get swept up in technicalities. is my iso too grainy, is the light soft enough, is my shutter speed too slow, is this shot creative enough?

I far too easily forget the why and focus on the how.

I think about myself as an artist, about money, about business, about the number of likes, about algorithm.

which, has its place.


I forget about the people, the families, the importance.

but then I’m hugging a weeping mama, her bones too weak to pick herself up again. two babies on her chest, one heartbeat.

I’m gripping my camera in the palm of my hand and mama bear looks up to me and says, “capture everything. your pictures today will be all we will ever have of our baby girl.”

and with those words, I remembered the why.

I could feel the gravity of just how important this is, just how incredible this is.

the weight of the moments and the stolen time and the grief and the joy all sunk in and I poured every single drop of myself out into those photographs for them.

because today when they are feeling the phantom limb pain of empty arms, when they are devastated and heartbroken beyond what anyone will understand, they will have only their memories and these photographs.

and memories fade. you think they won’t, but they do.

when I photograph life in its brand newest form or death and its bitter sorrow, I remember the why. I remember the importance.

and in those moments …

there is no room for perfection or cleanliness or forced expressions.

it is not technical, it is emotional.

there is only truth. there is only love.

honesty can be raw. it is raw.

it is gritty. it is gory. it is painful.

but at the end, it’s all we have left.

so when it’s the middle of October and I’m photographing thirty families every weekend and I’m up to my eyeballs in comparison and emails, stress and technicalities … here is what I will remind myself.

this is not about someone else’s idea of perfection or beauty.

this is not about following trends or the perfect blend and shades of burgundy in your outfit choice.

this is about creating permanence and capturing legacy.

this is about the memories that you will tuck away and pull out in fifty years to show your grandbabies.

this is about your photographs holding authenticity and truthful representations of what your heart looks like.

this is not about me.

this is about you.

and I promise to never take the responsibility of being trusted with your memories lightly.