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Take Good Photos Of Loved Ones

This post won’t teach you much, it’s meant as a reminder. A reminder to take good photos.

Right now you are likely reading this post on your home computer or work computer or maybe even a phone or tablet. I would put odds that 99% of you are going about a fairly routine day and are no more than 20 miles from your home. You’ll likely see your family at some point today and maybe even some friends if you’re lucky. As you are reading this blog post, life is probably pretty decent and maybe comfortable.

It’s that comfort that lures us away from thinking ahead, to what we want from now, in the future.

A good friend of mine passed away this month but this isn’t about her or me. It’s about you and your family and friends.

You see, as I am processing the grief, I did what many of us do; I went back through old photos, searching for happier times. Big smiles. Days at the beach. The fun stuff to dull the pain.

And I found it (friendly reminder: BACKUP YOUR PHOTOS TODAY!). A day spent filing through 150,000 images in Lightroom and what I found were 212 images of my friend. I had many more from the days before digital.

I’m not looking for pity nor sorrow. Life really is good.

I’m typing tonight to remind you of how fleeting life can be and of the gift we have to freeze moments with our cameras. You probably haven’t taken a picture of your loved ones in a while, or maybe you have. The constant hum of daily life often blocks out the reminders to realize how fortunate we are.

One thing about which I’m kicking myself tonight (but not too hard) is that I didn’t take better pictures of my friend. I am happy with the images and memories that are contained therein. But I think back to her last birthday when she most likely would not have wanted a studio shot taken (although she always was very smiley).

At the time I thought, “Oh, this point and shoot I’m testing will work okay.” Well, not every shot was in focus and there are plenty of red eyes. It’s better than nothing.

But I wish I had gone to my room, grabbed my expensive camera and flash and taken one solid portrait of her that day. For her family, for her friends, for me. And that leads me to today’s reminder and tip:

Take Good Photos Of Loved Ones

At your next family gathering, bring your best camera and your best lens. The next time you go out for drinks with a friend you haven’t seen in five months, bring your camera. Take the photos you normally take, the full body ones, the campy ones, the highly posed ones. But also make an effort to snap one solid portrait. Natalie has a good post on helping take natural looking portraits.

Not just okay photos, but one good photo of your loved ones, at least once a year. Take the time.

Photos Are Cathartic

One day someone you love will no longer be here and all you will have are the memories. I know this sounds obvious, but we often forget it in our day to day lives.

Their friends and their family will be happy to have a good photo to remember them by. It’s those photos of happier times that can help us along the process of working through our tears. It’s been a week and I’m preparing images to share with friends. While there are still tears, there is more joy in my heart when I look at those photos.

Time heals. Photos help too.

You just have to remember to cherish your time with those you love. And once in a while, remember to take a good portrait for when they aren’t so close.


In loving memory of Sheri.

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Peter West Carey
Peter West Carey

leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics – A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

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