Photographers work to get the perfect image using a combination of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO (as well as several other settings). But in my opinion, the most important thing about photography is the story behind the image. Whether you’re shooting professionally or you’re just starting out in photography, this has always been key. Contrary to popular belief, a good picture isn’t just a result of a good camera, but how the photographer takes the picture.
I started taking photography seriously once one of my good family friends passed away from stage 4 lung cancer. He himself was a photographer for 40 years and was the person who gave me my first DSLR camera and taught me how to take a photograph. Ever since then, I’ve loved using photography as a way of giving back in memory of my friend. Don’t get me wrong, the paid sessions are great, but my favorite shoots are the ones that aren’t paid. The most rewarding experiences have been helping out at Help-Portrait, an event centered around creating family portraits for families who otherwise would not have their pictures taken, and the photo shoot I had this past weekend.
About two weeks ago, I was asked to take pictures of Mike Hayes and his wife and two-year-old boy, Liam. What seemed to be a simple family shoot was much more than that. About a year ago, 33-year-old Mike was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, the cancer has spread to his brain and he’s had a stroke that has resulted in his left side being immobile. A couple weeks ago, Mike was given 2-3 months to live. He wanted to get pictures with his family so that his little boy will remember him.
To be honest, I was extremely nervous and honored to be photographing his family. I’ve photographed many occasions before, including weddings and concerts, but this was, by far, the most important shoot I’ve ever done. These pictures weren’t just pictures to post on Facebook and share with friends; these pictures were taken for a boy to remember his father, and the time they spent together one Sunday afternoon playing in the park. It was beautiful to be a part of that moment but it was even more inspiring to see Mike interact with his family and how happy they were, despite what was going on. We even got Mike’s wheelchair stuck in the mud, but it didn’t stop the smiles and laughter.
It was good to be able to capture a moment in Mike’s life that his son can look back on and see his dad holding him, but some people don’t get that moment captured on camera. I challenge you, no matter your photography experience, to take pictures every day and to tell your loved ones that you love them.
I shoot because of awesome people like Mike who I wouldn’t have met without my photography. I shoot because of my friend that taught me photography. I shoot because I want to be the one that creates a lasting memory on camera, living on, even when we’re gone.
Why do YOU shoot? Let us know in the comments!
Below are some pictures of Mike and his family: