The Power of a Photo
Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever. It remembers the little things long after you have forgotten everything. Aaron Siskind
Why do you love photos?
Photos show us little moments in time that will never happen again, moments that will forever be part of the ‘big picture’ of our life. They remind us of where we came from and help define who we are today. They document strong human emotions and the relationships that all those emotions represent. Photos remind us what and who is meaningful and important in our life. They help us celebrate life as it happens and after it happens. They make us feel loved and special.
But are photos just fun to look at or do they really have power?
I know of nothing that brings a group of people together quite like sharing a photo. A single photo can break language barriers, cause people to smile or cry and melt hearts. That seems pretty powerful.
The next time you are with a group of people, pull out some photos and watch what happens. Everyone wants to see them. Everyone wants to comment. If that photo is of them it is even more special. If you put that photo in an album with other photos and show it, you have on your hands a collection of memories and one of the most powerful tools to share and experience life and all that is important to you.
I often see the power, the ‘magical connective-ness’ that a photo brings, not only with my family but with perfect strangers. When I take photos of my kids sporting events, we generally start with a group of parents that don’t know each other at all. There are no developed friendships; there is no history. We all show up to the first practice and sit and wonder: Is she friendly? Is her kid that one over there who looks like he is 5 years older than the rest of our kids? Or 2 years younger? Is he the dad? Is that the brother? What am I going to make for dinner tonight and why am I here? We are not connected to the group. Yet.
The games start and the weeks click by, and I begin to capture photos of these kids. I usually start with mine first as it seems a bit invasive to intrude on the others I don’t know yet. I feel I haven’t earned the privilege and honor of capturing their special moments yet. But gradually, I begin to get to know the parents a bit and the kids. We know who is trying so hard and who hasn’t had a hit yet for the season, and we learn their names and cheer for them. I eventually get out of my ‘box’ and start documenting the personalities of these kids. It is my way of cheering for them. My photography goals include getting that first hit documented well of the little boy who is trying so hard but hasn’t had a hit yet and capturing the relationships as they all sit with arms around each other on the bench. I share some of the photos with the parents and the walls begin to come down. It happens every season.
They are so grateful for the photos, and we become friends. They love the photos because every parent knows that in a few short years their little kids will grow up and even though they may be picking daises in the outfield and needing us to tie their cleats now, they soon will be tying their own shoes and hitting home runs with the big kids.
They will long for these simple memories of today when the highlight of the game is the snack at the end and the uniform is more important than the score. I see how powerful these photos are as a mom tells me how thankful she is that I got the shot of her son hitting the ball. She explains that it made her cry when she saw it as it had not been a good week for their family and she needed the reminder of how precious these days really are. She gets teary eyed again just explaining this to me while we sit watching the game. A dad walks over and thanks me for the photos of his son, I finally got ‘the hit’ after waiting almost the whole season! He comments that he wishes he had even one photo of himself on the field when he was a kid playing ball.
Photos make us feel special; and that fact alone, makes them powerful.
As the season ends, parents thank me for the photos posted on the gallery I use to share them. They give me big warm smiles and are truly grateful for the effort. They open up and share more of their lives with me. They feel a little more special, a little more important, and perhaps a little more loved.
These photos remind us that our work as parents is really important, that our time on these ball fields is well spent, and that it is certain now: we have the cutest kids on earth! We share a common bond, one short sports season and a group of photo stories later, that will forever remind us that it really was all worth getting up early and driving all over town. We know each other better as we have shared a short season of life together on the ball field…but do we know each other better because of the games or because of the photos that we have now to help us always remember the season and the important lessons we all learned? I wonder if many people really understand this power and I wonder what the world would be like if more people did.
Photos have power to lure you back into a burning house to rescue them. They have power to connect people together, power to build relationships, power to heal relationships, power to bond people together, power to remember, and power to honor the history of who we are, where we have been and who we have loved on this journey called life.
You bet a photo has power. Don’t forget to use it. Make it a resolution to use your ‘powerful’ photos to bring your friends and family closer together this year. Take more photos, share them, and enjoy them. When your memory fades, and it will, your heart will be blessed to have them.
I am looking forward to a fun year full of learning and getting more confident with our cameras…. so glad you are here!