I attended a funeral today. Like many funerals in the recent past (as I get older the recent past is not as recent as it use to be) they had a photo stream showing the deceased through the years. Pictures that were sweet, funny, touching, all of the above.
As with most funerals where I have seen these I started thinking. I have made these for friends who have had relatives die. And even if I did not know the person after looking at there pictures as I scanned them, touched some up that were damaged, cropped some and corrected faded colors in others, and assembled them in to a video, I always feel as if I knew they person by the end. Even if we never met in life. I know I dont know them like their friends and family, but seeing the moments that they took pictures of somehow made them real to me. Brief captures of time that will live on past when the life of the person is gone.
Pictures are fairly easy to understand. Light enters a lens and is captures on a media be it film or a light sensor that saves it to a disk. But once this happens, that moment has a permanence that the moments before and after do not. That to me is magic.
I am not in a lot of pictures. As a videographer and photographer I am asked to use my equipment for a lot of circumstances that arise. I can not remember the last school activity I say and enjoyed without worrying that it was properly caught for posterity. Also I am not a fan of having my picture taken. Like most, I feel that age has not done me many favors. So I take pictures, and I am rarely in them.
Days like today remind me that this is wrong. Pictures or me are not taken of me to prop my self esteem or make me a model. Pictures are there for history. Abraham Lincoln to me is a bit more real to me than George Washington because I can see a picture. Sure we have paintings of George, but we have photographs of Lincoln.
Someday I will be gone and people will want pictures. To say here he was and here we are doing something with him. They will never want my picture on a piece of money or in a text book, but to those whom I share the moments of my life these will be invaluable. Don't get me wrong I have no overblown sense of myself. Merely the realization that each one of us is important enough to someone, that pictures or us are important to them. By choosing to not have pictures taken, due to age, weight, color or amount of hair, whatever. We are doing a disservice to those that love us and will still be here when we ware gone. Pictures are a gift of ourselves to those that shared those times with us. To not have a picture taken and share that moment, whatever moment that is, suddenly seems very selfish.
Next time you get the chance pull that special someone close, smile big and get a picture. Someday it will mean more to them than you can ever realize. Not because of how you looked, by simply because you were there and they can remember it all the more clearly thanks to that little piece of magic.