One of my favorite things about being a photographer is that I have the ability to do something unique. I can freeze a moment in time so my clients can hold onto it forever. The people, the emotions or the season of life they’re in. Often those times are joyful—a wedding, a birth, a family with ever-growing kiddos. But I recently learned that sometimes it can be just as valuable—if not more—to capture the painful times, too.
In January 2014, my mom shared with me that Dave, a good family friend, had been diagnosed with glioblastoma (a terminal brain tumor) and the prognosis wasn’t good. In my mind, he wasn’t old enough to encounter a battle like this. His wife, three kids and spouses, and nine grandchildren needed him here. My heart ached for them, and I couldn’t get their family off my mind.
One night I was laying awake in bed thinking about them and wishing there was something I could do to help. The idea came to mind to offer to take family photos for them at no cost. I wanted to give his wife something to hold onto, give his kids something to show their kids (especially the youngest who may not remember Grandpa) and hopefully bring a little joy during such a hard time. So I extended the offer.
A few months later, on a warm June evening, we got together to take their photos. The entire family was there, and you could feel the love between them. It was a perfect night for the session, and I was honored that they trusted me to capture this season of their lives. There was laughter, and there were tears. And it was beautiful.
Shortly after our session, Dave’s health started declining. Four months later, he passed away. And while the photos we took that night can’t lessen the pain his family feels, hopefully they can offer a sense of comfort as they remember what an incredible man he was.
I’m telling this story not to build myself up, but to share how meaningful this experience was for me. Giving this gift to Dave’s family brought me a sense of joy that my normal session fee never could. I so enjoy using photography to make a living, but I love that it also offers me the opportunity to touch the lives of others.
This is just one of the many ways that we as photographers have the ability to make a difference in peoples’ lives. So, keep your eyes open for opportunities like this in your world. You’ll impact your clients’ lives and you may be surprised what a big impact it has on your life, too.
Becca Blackburn loves life with her husband, son and golden retriever in Kansas City. Besides taking photos of the three of them—which she does often—she loves getting to know and photograph clients through Becca Blackburn Photography.