Capturing Your Stories

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Imagine your life without pictures, or other visual imagery. What would it be like? Well, besides not being able to share photographs with distant relatives, you wouldn’t really know what a place looked like without being there. Photography has modernized the world by allowing us to document life — and more particularly, to help us document our family memories. Without images, instead of pulling out a picture of your kids or loved ones, you’d have to try to describe them. Imagine how much trickier that would be (he’s got brown hair,… blue eyes…). Thankfully, we do have visual aids and photographs to help share our world with others.

A Visual Life
The old cliche, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” really does apply. In fact, a picture goes beyond words. Images promt our memories and help us to remember what those moments felt like. Remember in the Da Vinci Code: “A picture is worth a thousand words. Which words?” We all take something slightly different from an image, because it depends on our personal interaction with the emotion and story that we relate to. It’s really about cherishing memories, remembering the emotions. And words can’t do pictures justice.

Image Overload?
Magazines, newspapers, even the internet — all are saturated with images and advertisements. If you have trouble enjoying images you view day-to-day, you may be experiencing image overload. If you’re feeling like there are just too many images to take in, why not take a break and surround yourself with images that actually mean something to you? Maybe a family portrait, an image from your wedding day — these images are valuable and meaningful, and a lot harder to get tired of.

The Value of Professional Photography
Ok, so digital cameras are flooding the market, and it’s become more enticing than ever to be your own photographer. But, before you jump in, here’s why you should consider trusting a professional create your memories. As a professional photographer, my job is to help you look your best and to take care of you. From the consultation session to the final print selection, the most work you’ll have to do is decide which of the wonderful images are your favorites.

You know the old saying, “the camera adds 10 pounds?” Well, it’s not always true — especially if you trust a professional. Our job is to make you look your best, and there are a number of techniques that we can use to make sure you look amazing. As a Certified Professional Photographer, you can trust that I’m aware of these techniques, and that you will love how you look.

When to DIY: Sometimes you should do it yourself. Unless you want to take your professional photographer with you on vacation (I might not object!), and for spur of the moment picture opportunities, there are good opportunities for you to use your own camera. If you’re switching cameras, or just making the jump from a film point-and-shoot to a digital point-and-shoot, good for you! Remember, it may take some getting used to the new camera, its settings, and how it responds to you. So make sure to give it a test run before you plan on using it.

Life Stories
It’s true that our lives cannot be summed up in photographs, but through them we can remember our experiences and treasure those memories. You’re probably already thinking about some of the events I’m going to mention: birth, childhood, graduation, marriage, and family. Welcoming any new arrival to the family is a momentous occasion!

  • Birth: whether it’s the birth of a child, or the adoption of a beloved family pet, these family additions change our family forever.
  • Childhood: life doesn’t slow down as we grow — it just seems to go faster; and kids seem to grow so very quickly. Before you know it, those moments have become memories.
  • Graduation: senior portraits, final grades, these events are the stepping stone to adulthood.
  • Marriage: wedding planning, the beginning of a new family, celebration, and declaration of love. Marriage is a beautiful thing, and we all want to remember our wedding day memories.
  • Family: the cycle continues as new members join the family all over again. Memories are shared, stories recounted, and the family grows and develops.

Relationships | Engagement, marriage, and love.
My husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary this past January. The first year went by so quickly! Life doesn’t slow down as we add more things into the equation, so photographs are more important than ever for helping us to cherish our memories. Engagement and marriage are milestones in life, and it’s important to trust a professional photographer to document those experiences. Besides, you want your “photographer-relative” to enjoy the wedding — not work during it!

Even though we don’t look at our engagement and wedding images every day, or sometimes every month, it’s still nice to know that they’re there to help you remember your wedding day experience. From physical things like the dress, flowers, and cake; to emotional moments throughout the day. As a photographer, I love to work with my clients and create photographic art that conveys their emotional bond.

Kids and Pets | So many changes to document.
Birth, the first twelve months, from toddler to teen — kids are ever-growing and changing almost overnight. It’s so easy to think, “I’ll just get their picture taken next month.” In reality, life just gets busier and those portraits get forgotten.

No, I don’t have kids, but I do have 6 nephews and a niece (and a kitten of my own!). Even though I don’t have the same perspective as a parent, it’s still amazing to watch them grow up. As the parent of soon to be two boys, we definitely value all the snapshots and memories we’ve been able to document. The two cats don’t get photographed quite as much anymore, I have to admit. And since I don’t see my nephews and niece every day, the changes are even more apparent. I’m probably shorter than the oldest nephew by now; last time I probably still had an inch on him. Oh well, that’s life.

Not only do we want to remember how cute kids look at the different stages of life, but when they’re older, they’ll want to see those pictures too. It’s important to create photographs during childhood because it’s the age we remember the least. Having those images to look back on helps to stir up those memories and remember what it was like “when we were little.” And of course, just like kids, pets grow extremely quickly. You just have to have pictures to remember how small your cat was as a kitten, or how your giant dog was once a cute cuddly puppy.

Expect the Unexpected
Life happens, so plan ahead. If you don’t set priorities, things won’t get done. We have to make a conscious decision to have our portrait created. Otherwise, it’s easy to keep putting it off in favor of other, more spontaneous activities

Document your life! Not only will you enjoy “looking back,” but your children and grandchildren will cherish learning about those memories of yours.

Enjoy yourself. Being photographed shouldn’t be a chore. You should be able to look forward to your portrait session! Plus, you’ll come away from a great experience with new photographic art to share with your friends and family.

Take the silly shots. When you’re taking snapshots, don’t worry if your subjects want to make funny faces. Let them get their silly shot, and then they probably won’t mind smiling for you!

When I originally gave this program, Capturing Your Stories, it was presented to the women of PEO the week after my grandfather, Major McKinley Ash, passed away from cancer. This loss made the importance of family memories all the more relevant to me. While we can’t replace or bring back the ones we love, we can honor them and look back on the many fond memories of while they were still with us.

In memory of Major M. Ash (April 7, 1921 – March 21, 2007)