Thinking of the Future

One of my new favorite bloggers, Zack Arias, lost his stepfather several weeks ago. He posted on his blog about something that all portrait photographers should keep in mind. In Photograph Those You Love, he talks about his experience when working at Kinko’s with people who would want enlargements of less-than-perfect photographs for funeral displays. He’s remembered this experience now that he’s become a professional photographer:

That planted a philosophy I have on every single photoshoot. “I’m shooting for this person’s funeral.” I better make images that people will want to see and remember this person by. Something that shows who they were and what they did and how they were living their life pursuing a dream.

This is an important lesson not only for professionals, but for everyone. Most of us have pro portraits made so rarely that the last one wouldn’t necessarily work as a “recent photo” for the purposes of a funeral (or newspaper obituary column). So when taking photos of our family, we should always keep in mind a need to take  some nicely composed portraits of each of our relatives in addition to all the candid action shots.

When my cousin died suddenly last spring, the photograph his wife asked me to enlarge was a beautiful portrait made only weeks earlier at Easter – made by her, in the foyer of their home, with him holding his children. This was perfect. But not everyone regularly takes such “semi-formal” pictures, and it’s important to do so.

This whole topic also reinforces my personal philosophy outlined in a post from last month, In Praise of the Annual Portrait. Proper portraits are important not only for the funeral, but for the memory of our deceased love ones. And in the shorter term, they are a source of happiness that can enrich every family’s life.


~ by David Cupp on September 30, 2008.

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