Why (and how) you should take the photos that matter

Have you ever attended a funeral and thought to yourself – ‘hmmm, that photo doesn’t accurately represent the person who passed?’. Over the past few years my photos have been chosen by families to represent their loved ones in photo form.  I get asked if I have photos a lot – and I’m always so sad when I can’t produce the perfect image. I know why clients contact me years later for a photo – luckily it hasn’t happened very often but when it does I know the person is relying on me to produce a candid and beautiful image that make people feel good and happy and nostalgic looking at it. I had never had my own intimate experience of needing an image.

Until a few months ago our family lost a loved one – as we were preparing for the funeral I learned a lot about the feeling of regret for not taking photos of my own family.  Do you ever feel this niggling feeling to grab your camera, phone… whatever, and preserve a certain memory or moment? Or to plan a session? I’ve put off planning our extended family session for years because one of us has been pregnant, or nursing or living away and now five years later I don’t have a single image where I’m interacting meaningfully with some of my favourite human beings. 

A few months ago when our family member passed I realized that taking an image, the one I wanted of my Dad and his siblings (my Uncle passed) all together being total goofballs was now no longer an option let alone something I just didn’t get around to. And, I’m kicking myself because, on my last visit to the Maritimes before my Uncle passed, I talked to my cousin about the portrait project and then I never did it. As I was driving home with two screeching kids to Ontario I thought to myself ‘damn, I’ll do it next year.’  (The classic story of the cobbler’s children having no shoes, I’m afraid.) I’m not even sure why I didn’t do it. It’s not because I didn’t have time or the equipment – it’s because I took life for granted. I knew better not to put it off and yet I let the time get away from me. 

Luckily my cousin was recently married and we had a great great shot. But, then I started thinking about all of the funerals that I’ve been to where I look at the photo near the casket and think ‘who is that person?”. Because, it doesn’t reflect who the person is in my minds eye. How sad to not have images that really reflect the stage of life you’re currently in.

So my PSA for today is this: ask yourself if you have the photos that really matter – and, if not, take them. Not next season, or next year – now.

DIYing them is definitely better than nothing. So when you’re sitting around the fire at your beloved cottage take the photo or, in my case, watching your kids and parents racing around behind the chickens in your backyard I hope you’ll grab your camera and heed these two  pieces of advice once you take that photo:

  1. Make sure your photo sizes are big enough and/or print your photo immediately. If you can’t be certain that you’re producing a high resolution image (which, let’s face it, unless you’re a professional or amateur photographer that’s really interested in quality of images etc you probably don’t), the photos you take today likely won’t print in any kind of a large format in five years. That’s how fast resolutions and technology are changing.

    This is why I always recommend printing your photos in the season you take them. (For a quick and easy way to do it, I love the Impressed app – it’s easy to use, their products are great, customer service is excellent, and they’re Canadian).

    If you’ve already taken keepsake photos but only have the digital formats, don’t assume that just because a photographer took them that they will be of good quality. If your photographer gave you a bargain basement deal chances are great they don’t truly understand the image quality and preservation piece of their business. This isn’t a dig it’s just fact. Setting up your business with proper gear, back ups and properly preserving them costs money. Long story short if you have some cherished images contact a print lab and ask questions about the image quality. Impressed has excellent customer service.
  2. Back. Up. Your. Photos. There’s nothing more devastating than losing a phone, memory stick, or hard drive full of irreplaceable family photos. So don’t let it happen to you – back up your photos carefully and often.

If you want to create truly breathtaking family photos – with everyone in the picture, including you – I’d be delighted to help. I offer several family portrait packages including a full extended family session that will get you photos as beautiful as the one below. Feel free to contact me today to discuss options or book a session.

Edited to add: this post has been banging around in my head and heart for months. Years even. I hope you’ll act now and either take or book a session – you don’t need a ton of images you really only need one. Creating a beautiful image is available to all of us – if you can’t afford a session borrow a friends new iphone and do ten minutes of research on how to take a great photo then print it!


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