A letter on my door step. portraits are more than paper.

There will be no portrait photos in this post.  This letter wasn’t mailed – it was at my doorstep when I got home a couple months ago.  I read it, I cried, and read it again – probably a hundred times by now.  It wasn’t easy to read – and honestly, as much as it validates what I do for a living – I wasn’t sure I was going to share it either.  If you choose to read through the letter, you will know why I’ve finally chosen to share it.

July 2nd, 2011

Jeanine – 

Today I am writing for a couple of reasons.  I have some quiet time at the moment and need to get a couple of things off my mind.  I will leave this for my husband to deliver to you when he is ready.

You photographed my wedding, you photographed my first pregnancy and my first baby.  I contacted you awhile back to photograph my 2nd child and family.  After getting prices and realizing I would want all of the pictures as we love your work – I decided against spending $500+ – which is what I normally spend for portraits and prints with you..  Please know it is not because I don’t value your amazing eye, or how much we love the experience.

That week that I decided to NOT do a session with you, this is how I spent some money.

On Sunday I called and cancelled our session.  Monday I went out and got my hair cut ($39+tip), and colored ($65), Thursday I had my nails done ($24), my family went out to dinner at a somewhat expensive restaurant for no particular reason costing us $79 + tip.  This was just 4 days since canceling our session, already totaling over $200 for un necessary things.  My nails only lasted about 2 weeks, my hair is gone, and seven weeks passed when I got the phone call from our doctor.  It was not something I expected and the cancer has spread very quickly.  I will be leaving my husband, my 6 year old girl and my now 2 year old – not by choice.  It is very hard for me to talk about it which is why I need to write you.

I watch your Facebook page and your posts about the value of a photo and if I could give back all of those things that I purchased this few weeks after I cancelled my session with you, knowing what I know now, and have that session, well… I would do it in a heartbeat. 

Now my time is done and there are no more chances for me.  The next time someone cancels a session – my wish is that you forward this letter to them.  Time is fragile, it is gone before you know you had it.  If you charged $200 for one print it wouldn’t be enough for what it is actually worth.  I cringe to think that my priorities were a manicure over a memory to pass onto my babies and husband.

My love and thanks for what you have given us from past photos.  I am so sorry that I did not see it as more than paper until now.

Karen L.

934 thoughts on “A letter on my door step. portraits are more than paper.

    • Consider it shared Jeanine. Beautiful letter, may you and this family be blessed for knowing each other and comforted for your loss.


    • Maybe you can give her a complimentary photo and one you can use for yourself to go along with this letter for the future of both of ya! Just a thought! We all like to give to ppl in need and obviously this woman feels she needs you to help her family remember her! Which is also a great tribute to the work that you do!


    • As beautiful as the letter was; I dont feel it was as much about the photos as other issues. Anyone can take a picture with a camera or his/her phone and they would still mean just as much as a $500.00 photo session. In my opinion, I’d rather take my own pics and then spend the 500 dollars spending it on or with my family.


    • Jeanine,
      One of my favorite quotes is, “I try to find the good in everything, …most of us find what we search for!” I agree that the way you read it (or take in anything in life), is what makes it Good or Bad! I would hope that people can see that you wouldn’t be stupid enough to post this as a “marketing strategy”. I mean cmon! Wouldn’t it be OBVIOUS if that’s what you were doing. I’ve read through the comments and your replies to the negative ones, and I respect how tactful you are. You have responded to them with dignity, not trying to justify something you didn’t do, but simply trying to make them see what the real message is, (which isn’t even your job), but you have taken the time to do it! I think this lady would be very appreciative that you have shared her story. I know I would be. It absolutely doesn’t matter how much the pictures are or what they are taken with! I do find however, that photographs now tend to catch the story of the family now. When my family had pictures done last month, you could tell me and my husband are still in love after 10 years together and two little boys. I see so much more in those pictures than a simple piece of paper. Thank you so much for sharing and for replying so genuinely to all the negative posts! I’m not so sure I could do the same!


    • Jeanine,
      I read this letter and as with everybody it touched me in many ways especially how short life is, I’ve been there myself! However I feel Karen was being a little too hard on herself for the simple reason’s on yes I understand and get the 39.00/65.00/24.00/79.00=$200, but what Karen may not have realized yes she spent that money in other things she now feels would of been better of spent with the photo session, however Karen spent the money on things that made her feel good about herself and well the $79.00 family dinner was well worth the money due to the fact it was spent with/on FAMILY and you can’t put a price tag on that one! As a military wife and several close call’s ourselves I do feel Karen still made the right choice, cuz NO ONE is promised tomorrow we can only be thankful for TODAY!


      Kimberly Youngblood


  1. Amazing… I am completely speechless. I am glad you were able to take the other pictures earlier in their lives or they would have none. Just wow… thanks for sharing such a tough and touching letter.

    Keep doing what you do.

    I hope you provide many families in the future with many keepsakes that they will, too, treasure. Have a great 2012.


  2. this had me in tears, this is why I want to work with those companies that work with those who are going through battles like this to photograph them on my time fo rnothing less than a thank you


  3. I am so glad that you shared this letter with everyone. I am not a professional photographer but my 13 yo daughter is hoping to be one someday and I, of course, think all of her photos are priceless. I had to read this letter to her because we talk about how it is just as important it is to take pictures of everyday events as special events. You never know when that picture may be the only thing left as a memory for someone, which will definitely be more valuable than some of the things that we choose to spend our money on.