Friday, May 24, 2013

Picture this...

When I was a little girl, my Grandpap was a professional photographer.  He had a studio where people went and had their pictures made, but the greatest thing (at least, according to me), was that he traveled around and set up a mini-studio in the back of a grocery store or other mom & pop shop.  I considered it to be great, because sometimes he would let me go with him and be kind of a secretary.  Well, at least I thought of myself as a secretary.  I guess I was more like the check-out clerk.  I got to write up tickets and take people's money and real secretarial stuff like that.  

Anyway, he would set up his little studio and families would dress in their absolute finest and come get their pictures taken.  Little boys with freshly combed hair, little girls with frilly little dresses and patent leather shoes, dads with pressed shirts and moms (oh the moms!) dragging them all to the back of the store, cooing, coaxing, cajoling and sometimes carping their families into smiling for the camera.  Grandpap was a genius at getting those smiles, too.  It was just magical.

So, as you might guess, I'm no stranger to a camera.  Growing up, I had my picture snapped more times than a teenage girl making duck faces in her bathroom mirror.   In fact, I've never met a camera I didn't like.  (I've seen some photos those cameras have spit out that perhaps I didn't care for, but we'll just blame those on the lighting.)  Put a Nikon in front of me, and I just can't help myself but to tilt my head a little and break out into a grin.  

More than being around cameras, I've also always been around photographs.  Growing up, we always had photographs all over the house.  Now that I'm the grown up, I take a lot of photos.  I have boxes and books and envelopes and (now) files full of photographs.  Photos of our kiddos, tons of pictures of Peanut, snapshots of my sister & brother when we were kids, pics of Ryan and me at just about everywhere we've ever been, photographs of friends, family, coworkers and schoolmates.  I most likely have a picture of you. 

Until last week, I had never really given a second thought about submitting photos for something before.  I mean, I've done it.    I have rummaged through the boxes and files to find pictures for graduations, for weddings, for other presentations.  I had the honor of helping Sweet Hubby Ryan's cousins, Dana and Susan, put a photo collage together when their sweet mother, Aunt Mary, passed away.  (She wasn't a stranger to the camera either, I might add, lovingly).  Even then, I didn't think about the gravity of it all.  It never occurred to me that all those beautiful, funny, heartwarming pictures of Aunt Mary are all that there will ever be now.  Thankfully, those sweet girls had plenty of options of their dear mother.  

Last week, I was working on a presentation for our Relay For Life event.  The plan was to show a series of photos of some cancer survivors and some who have lost their lives to cancer.  (You can see it on our Relay For Life Facebook page if you want.)  I got the photos from different people - from people on our planning committee, from team captains, from people I don't even know.  The common thread that struck me was that someone thought "this picture" is the one photo that they could find that best represented their loved one.  

I know that some of the people in those photos will have an opportunity for a do-over.  Next year's picture might be completely different.  Things change, people change, hairstyles change (especially for cancer survivors) and the next fun thing they do might result in a better photo opportunity.  

Many of the pictures, though, really put my thinking parts to the test.  I noticed that I had seen "this one" before.  Oh, and "this one."  And "this one."  And then, it hit me.  I will likely not see a different picture of this person.  This is the last one.  The best one.  The one that MOST represented this loved one.  There is not a do-over option.  There are no more.  

I know that everyone doesn't share the same love of the camera that I do.  I have plenty of friends (maybe you) who will do just about anything to stay out of the viewfinder.  For all of you who turn away or hide or put your hands in front of the camera when someone says, "Say cheese," stop doing that.  Smile.  Act like you're having fun (most likely you are or someone wouldn't want to take a picture of you).  Make a funny face if you have to.  When your family has to dig through your boxes, envelopes, books and files looking for a picture of you some day, you don't want the best one they can find to look like that one of Bigfoot.  

What is your favorite picture of someone you love?  What is your favorite picture of yourself?

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