Why can't we talk about the value of photos in regards to death?

Uncategorized Jun 13, 2018

To begin, I have no plans to bum you out. But, I would like to have a frank conversation about the importance of taking portraits now, because you won't be here forever.

Photographers make pretty photos, and we like to create pretty thoughts when we create our marketing materials. Butterflies, flowers, and whimsical icons are everywhere in the photography marketplace.

But here is the problem: marketing is about reaching out and grabbing you by the pain point. How to solve a problem that you have.

People marketing air conditioners market to your fear of being hot. 

People marketing running shoes market to your foot and back pain.

People marketing sunscreen are playing to your fear of terrible sunburns and skin cancer. 

But photographers regularly struggle with marketing because its somehow taboo to talk about how your portraits will be the best memory keepers that your loved ones will have when you die. (OMG did she say die?! She can't do that!!) I said it.

Hey guess what? EVERYONE dies at some point. This is not some curse your photographer might accidentally put on you. It eventually happens to everyone.

The best, and most widely displayed photos of my grandparents were not taken days or even months before their passing. 

They are from the prime of their lives, young and vivacious. We then revel in being able to see the change in their faces as the life stories unfolded and we keep them alive with our memories prompted by the photos we find digging through the albums and boxes. 

Occasionally, life is taken too soon. It happens. We can't pretend it doesn't.

When those tragedies occur, those photos often hold even more meaning. They help us to grieve, and they help us to heal.

I was recently tagged in a post, reminding me of a session I shot here in the historic district in College Station just a couple of years ago. One of my favorites to date. 

Lori's parents had passed, and she was packing up and selling her childhood home. She instructed me to shoot her tears, her pensive expression, and the joy as she sifted through old portraits of her parents and siblings as they had lived in the house. 


Last week, Lori suffered another tragedy as her brother, Jon, passed away from cancer. She is now the last surviving member of the nuclear family that lived in this home for so many years. She pulled up the slideshow to share again. Tagged me in it and used it to work through her grief and remember the good times. 

This morning, I came across a facebook video that spoke to this in a beautiful way. 

Japanese photographer Kiyofusa Nozu specializes in pre-death portraits and he is making some of THE MOST BEAUTIFUL work that will be treasured for generations!!! (Watch this beautiful video)

So here is my thought... Can we get over it? Can we cut to the chase and not be freaked out when someone says... "Take the photo, I won't be here forever. I want a good portrait at my funeral."

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