Kids looking for pictures of you

One day your children will go looking for portraits of you.
What will they own?
In today’s age of iPhones and DSLR’s, we are all photographers and yet, most portraits live in our phones and on our computers and then when our phone crashes, or hard drive blinks out, we rush to the cloud only to realize that the images saved were too small to print or, worse yet, not saved at all.

Recently, a friend of mine from 15 years ago passed away in a car accident. I hadn’t spoken to her in years but, it was always nice to see her flitting about Faceplace and watching her life from afar. We were friends when I lived in Boston. She was 7 years my junior and only the week before she passed had embarked on a move from Portland to Eugene, Oregon.

She ran across a rumple warning on the interstate, overcorrected the wheel, and when she slammed on the brakes her car flipped over and flew into the median. She was pronounced on the scene. 33 years old. My heart broke.

In 2003, I had a house fire and lost everything save for my pets, a small box where my ‘important life moments’ lived (AKA film negatives, random letters, and the stuffed animal I slept with as a small child), and the lease from our apartment. When my friend passed, I frantically looked through my house. “I’m a freaking photographer! How do I NOT have any pictures of her!?” and it dawned on me that they’d gone up, literally, in smoke in 2003. I sat in the middle of my living room, on the floor, tears streaming down my face… when it dawned on me that I had envelope after envelope of film negatives asleep in my beautifully carved box that managed to survive that fire. That *^&%ing fire!

I sat on the floor in front of that box pouring through catalog after catalog, scouring each sheet of negatives as if it would be the last, the one, when I finally came across it – a sleeve with two images of my friend smiling like there was no tomorrow. She was like a little sister to me, even if it was fifteen years ago. My heart still ached to chat with her. To hear about her bar customers, to hear about how she was doing, where she was going, what was happening in her life. A life taken way too soon.

What came to me though was, she was leaving behind a family that loved her very much. A father, step mother, friends from around the country, the first thing we all look for are pictures to immortalize that relationship. It is almost an inherent understanding that at some point we will forget what they sounded like, what they look like even. What do you have? Right this very second, what do you have for your friends and family to remember you by? I don’t care if you’re 22 or 82, what will your children, friends, and family have of you to be immortalized for generations? Are you waiting for those pesky pounds to fall off? For the kids to start back to school?

Whatever the reason, I am here to tell you this: You are good enough now. Right now. Today. None of us is promised tomorrow. Yesterday is gone and when your children look to your portraits in 2 years, 10 years, 40 years even, not one person will comment on how you struggled getting into your jeans, or how you always wanted to shoot the kids because THEY were the important ones, or that Dad didn’t want to do it. They will look to your portraits and see the woman that raised them to love, to treat others with respect, and to dream bigger than big! You are good enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, LOVED enough to exist in portraits. Every single one of you beautiful, wonderful, loving souls.

Cat Ford-Coates can be reached

Written by Cat Ford-Coates