A letter on my door step: The follow-up

Ok – honestly, I had absolutely no idea what would happen over the last 24 hours.  Although I’ve been in professional photography for around 24 years – I did not set out to post something that would be passed along to so many people.  Today, my e-mail, blog & twitter were turned upside down with mass communication beyond comprehension.  95% of the voices I heard through Facebook, Twitter, E-mail as well as blog posts were a grouping of similar stories, people who could really relate, and thankful people that loved the reminder to give a little more love an attention to those that you love around you.  About 3% were questions about me, about the family, and about photography.  That left a very small 2% that found the blog post offensive and questioned my integrity in doing so.  Looking at the percentages – I will say that there will always be a few nay sayers and negative people, but the astonishing positive and thankful feedback actually has left me in tears over half the past day.  So I went to the studio with no make-up, hair in a mess and nice big puffy eyes – and am grateful for all of the stories shared from all corners of the globe.

Just because everyone isn’t rosy and positive doesn’t mean they don’t have a valid perspective, so I feel like I should address some questions in today’s post.  These are answers to only questions I’ve received up until now – and I apologize if I’ve missed something from any of you, and will try to go through and e-mail some people directly as well.

** Were you blocking a lot of negative comments so far?

Actually no. I have currently only “unapproved” 5 posts so far… all of which contained either foul language or I felt were bashing the feelings of sincere people that posted comments on my blog.  I e-mailed a response to each person that I “unapproved” explaining exactly why I had done so, as well as addressing their concerns or harsh words.

** Is Karen still alive? Can you post photos of her and her family?

Sorry to say that she has passed.  I do have images from past sessions and wedding; however I and the family do not feel it is the right place to put faces to her words – as her words speak for themselves.  They prefer not to be recognized, or contacted – especially with young children involved.  Morning and dealing with a sever loss is really a personal matter – and it is a very fragile situation.

** Was the post a marketing ploy or hoax?

No.  The only benefit I feel from this is that others can bond and feel some greater picture.  I have my own family, a full-time business and want to pass along how important loving relationships are or can be to my children.  Cancer has hit close to home in my family as well – and it was a very awakening experience for me.  A reminder of how quickly life passes, and how even I put off photos with my children.  As photographers, we are behind the camera – and the nudge that this letter provided me was to do more portraits with my husband and children…. and ME in the photograph.  It’s about setting aside the thought of a few extra wrinkles, or couple extra pound because you don’t feel like you look perfect and getting in front of the camera for sentiment sake.  Unfortunately I don’t think I could possibly convince some people of this – but I felt like I still needed to try to explain my actual intent.  I by no means believe this was her last “wish” as one so un-kindly put either.  I know her and I also know that she probably sat down and wrote a number of letters to people because that is the kind of person she was.  Loving.

** Do I expect people to spend thousands on photography?

That is quite a personal decision and really – with my own family and trying to support them on a photographer’s budget I have to tighten my belt too.   I am all to familiar with paycheck to paycheck.  So in short… NO… that isn’t something I would demand or expect – or force anyone into.  Many seem to be un-aware that photographers are small business owners – we are no different than anyone else with a job (except we rarely get a steady paycheck).  We have lots of bills, many of us have families, we pay our own insurance –  if we are pros and we also have increasingly large over head expenses with continually upgrading equipment & computers.  We work all hours day and night too.  It is as far from a 9-5 job as most will ever understand.  Many photographers (myself included) have actually lowered our rates or offer payment options or packages to make it easier if a client chooses to hire us for their memories.

I want to make it abundantly clear that at least 90% off all my photographs of my family and children are “candid” on the fly and “in the moment.”  And yes – these are prized by me just as much as the professional looking images.

** Guilt trip?

Well – I guess you can call it what you would like.  Some people have called it a real awakening, some have said thank you for the reminder, and some have said I was a awful person too.

Here is my opinion.. or view I guess you can say:

“Call it whatever you want!  I LOVE MY FAMILY.  I know now more than ever that there are hundreds of thousands of people that feel love for their families and friends.  If yesterday’s post made just ONE of you pick up your camera and take a family photo or a few extra shots of your children or parents/grandparents then that 2% that are disgusted with me, don’t matter – my love and concern is with those that the post touched in a positive way.  I would love to photograph as many people as possible in my lifetime, but it makes me happy just to know that others out there do see value in what a photograph IS.  It is beautiful memories of past lives, the building blocks of who you are today and who you will be tomorrow, and it is stories for  children and generations to come.”

I am very proud to be a professional photographer

I am proud to be in a profession that touches so many people in an amazing – astounding way for generations behind and ahead of me.

I am proud that I can see beauty in everyone…. EVERYONE.

For all photographers out there – professional or not – be proud that you record our history, love and our lives.  For clients or potential clients… we photograph people because we love the spirit and uniqueness of every person.

I wish everyone a beautiful and heart-felt 2012!!!!  My many thanks to everyone that has and will post about their experiences.  I enjoy reading and hearing about all of the amazing connections out there and have had many e-mails and posts stating how much they appreciate everyone posting and seeing all of the love and kindness!

Here is the link to the post that this follow-up refers to as well:

https://fototails.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/a-letter-on-my-doorstep-portraits-are-more-than-paper/

113 thoughts on “A letter on my door step: The follow-up

  1. I admire you even more now for taking the time to answer peoples questions. I absolutely feel you did a good thing by posting this. everyday we are bombarded by pictures of horrible things in the news, or read or hear of a tragedy. we rarely read about a positive from such a sad sad story. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for the reminder to not take life for granted

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  2. Your post was right on target. No need to justify the nay-sayers who couldn’t find a photo decent enough to use in an obituary if they had to. Anyone who truly cares about friends and family understands the significance of memories. Photos are treasures to be passed on to generations long after we’re gone. Bad photos or professional photos… they are all memories. Most of us would be happy to pay for the professional shots and us photographers who provide those memories are truly honored to do so.

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  3. I’ve lost my best friend to leukemia, a husband to brain cancer and am the mother of baby boy who was stillborn all before i turned 40. While i am not unique in this regard, there are some people would accuse me of ‘faking’ these facts if they didn’t know me.
    I for one thank you for your posts…the original and the follow-up.

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    • Lisa – wow. You are such a strong woman to have lived through all of that. Honestly, no one will ever know what any other person went through in their lives, so anyone who doesn’t believe what a person says they went through, themselves probably have issues they need to address. Life is hard at times, but the very nature of it is that no one else has lived your life. ❤ stay strong, chica 🙂

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  4. I think you are a very sincere person., the people who didnt understand the letter, are obviously non caring people such as yourself,.,It is important to take pictures of loved ones., They can bring great comfort, when someone has passed or been through an illness., Please continue to do your work with your wonderful heart in the pictures you take.

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    • Thank you. It’s hard not to take negative posts personal – especially when it was hard to share to begin with, but I’m still glad that I did post it and really appreciate your kind words.

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  5. I am so happy that you shared it with us. The negative things people say anymore is rude and not at all needed. My heart goes out to the family and friends. I never expect anyone to make millions for what they love to do and what they do to support their family. Keep up the honest work and know that you hold the key to this families past. you should be honored.

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  6. I just read this profound letter! And so right was “she” to pour her heart out to let people know what’s important! Too many of us take things for granted until something bad or sad happens! But that is human nature I think. We all try to save our pennies and then foolishly spend it. My heart goes out to her husband and children! She obviously had an amazing heart

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  7. It’s so easy for people to hide behind their computer screens and say hurtful and mean things. These people are cowards 😦

    It takes courage to share raw emotion with others such as you did by posting the letter you received. Bravo. I am glad you were brave enough to share. Posting that beautiful, heartfelt letter has inspired many.

    My heart goes out to the family, and to you as well. I know that my clients become a part of me as I’m sure this family member held a special place in your heart after being so involved in so many of their special moments.

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  8. Just a big THANK YOU for posting both the letter and this follow-up. I am one of those who will pick up the camera even more often – it is indeed an important reminder. No need to take negative comments personal! 2% is still not much considering the build-up of characters among humans. I am sure that even a lot of the usual nay-sayers had to agree with what you wrote this time 🙂

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  9. Thank you so much again for posting these stories, I have passed them on to the ladies who recently did my family portraits but as a keen amateur myself I also thank you for inspiring me to pick up my own camera more often.

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  10. I posted your original link to my fb page yesterday as it really touched me. I wrote: This is a great post about the value of a portrait. Please read. Life is precious, it can be taken back at any time. SO LIVE YOUR LIFE and if it’s between nails and photos, get the photos!!!

    and this is what one of my clients wrote: Wow – amazing letter! Thanks for the reminder that what I spent with you was well worth it! Not that I minded! Your talent and friendship is more valuable than I can express! I love the timing of this post since we just finally got those priceless pix hung up tonight! Thanks for all you do Pam – your photos of us got me through a deployment and are a great reminder of all that God has given me through my marriage! I am thankful that I have both the photos and my husband since his battle with cancer was won!

    Your post moved me and moved others x

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  11. I saw the orig post on a fellow photographer’s page, reposted it, and have been thinking about it ever since. Thank you for sharing the letter. Her words AND yours were absolutely right. I am disgusted that anyone would take the time to comment in a negative way. These two posts are obviously heartfelt and sincere and put to paper feelings that, I’m sure, almost every portrait photographer has. From a fellow photographer, I say THANK YOU.

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  12. Thank you for posting the letter. I re-posted on my page.

    As a professional photographer, I have had to deal with frustrations of people not understanding what that letter expressed so eloquently. It is unfortunate that it takes a real tragedy to “bring it home”. I live in a community where it is not uncommon for people to spend hundreds of dollars a week on personal training, facials, nails, meals, etc… It still baffles me when those same people are shocked that my 8×10 prints are $ 55.

    Be it as it may, we all make our choices and value what is important to us. I will always believe that a photograph is priceless and have the photo of my husband holding our newborn to prove that.

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  13. I think you missed a wonderful opportunity to bring awareness to fighting cancer and to encourage photographers to help in any way they can. Instead, you pated this letter after another client pissed you off by complaining about your pricing.

    Honestly, I was disgusted by your approach to this and did not appreciate the scare tactics.

    Leave pricing money out of it. Just go out and do good things and be quiet about it instead of trying to drum up business this way.

    Its a given that as photographers we create memories that last. That IS what we do…we take photographs, good ones, to create memories and moments that last a long time. That is not a secret. Your ‘you’re going to die so take expensive photographs’ angle was disturbing to me as a photographer. As a son of a cancer survivor I honestly don’t give a rats ass what quality the photos of my mother are…I’m just glad we have them. In a world that creates more photographs now more than ever before, i think we’re doing a good job of capturing our lives. My iPhone photos are equally as important to me as the pro photos my friends have done for us.

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    • I shared the letter as is… I would never alter a heartfelt letter like hers, and I don’t think that you should trash it either. I would love to know how you think I’m getting any business from this at all. I am a photographer full time now – with bookings sometimes 6-8 weeks out – if you can’t see the love that was being given by her letter it is a message missed by you and I’m sorry that it has caused you to vent so bitterly at me when you don’t even know me.

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    • Liam…you are a very angry and bitter person to have even thought for a moment of posting the content of your message. I am a daughter of a beautiful mother who passed due to brain and breast cancer. I now have my own daughter. This letter was written from a mother who wishes more than anything she had made the choice to leave a beautiful photographic memory to her very young children and her husband to cherish. I can tell you, from a mother’s perspective…I know how precious time is and I know how precious that perfect family portrait would have been to hold onto if I had one of my mother and myself even with my brother included before she passed. The cost? I had to reread the letter to even realize the woman wrote of the cost. Anyone who has had professional portraits done by an independent photographer knows that they are expensive but that isn’t at all the message the mom was expressing. This mom was expressing how, what she thought at the time that $500 was too much, but she certainly thought nothing of spending over $200 within days of declining the appt on such frivilous things when, little did she know, her death was looming around the corner. After her death, what do you think her daughters wished for…? That their mother’s nails were done when she died? That her hair was perfect on her death bed? NO! If you would ask her family now, while in possession of all the day to day point and shoot or iphone pictures, what they would want to have as a keepsake? I’m sure they would choose to have the portrait. Did this letter now light a fire under me to set an appt tomorrow for a family portrait? Yes. Will I contact this photographer? Well, if my family wasn’t starting up a new business I certainly would…I can’t afford it now so I will go with an avenue less expensive…but…when I can afford it, absolutely as this photographer has shown care, emotion and a true heart by sharing this letter. I don’t know this photographer, I have never had her take my portraits, this letter was shared on FB by a friend of mine who has been a client …what this letter did was remind me how I take for granted those perfect portraits that mothers cherish, that I so cherish and how no one knows when their time will come. My assumption is you are a man, it doesn’t appear that you have children. Someday maybe you will have a woman in your life who is the mother of your children and she can explain to you the importance of those cherished professional family portraits.

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  14. Again, thank you for sharing!!! And don’t listen to the 2%. However, you just made me add a new New Year’s Resolution to my ever-growing to-do-list: be in our photos. Period. You said it so perfectly, as photographers, we’re behind the lens and it never feels like we were “there” when looking at vacation photos. Ours always look like my husband went walking the dogs or went on a ski trip by himself. So thank you again- I will make that a priority.

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  15. Thank you for posting the Letter. I think it hits home to alot of us. Our time here is short and I thank god everyday for another chance.. Our family is a victim of murder… and we cherish each and every photograph and memory of our loved one..
    once again thank you for posting the letter..

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  16. Thank you for such a sincere post, I can feel that it comes from deep within. Life throws us all some very hard curves at times, the death of someone we love is one of the hardest.

    I am also a professional photographer and have had several clients over the years who have had someone they love (pets included), pass on. While it’s certainly not what goes through my mind when I press the shutter button – I cannot express how grateful and honored I feel that I was able to give them “paper” that held a moment of time in their life of what is now, only a memory. It’s one of those unexpected results of what we do.

    I feel that she wrote that letter to you in the hopes that no one (no one!) ever feel the pain in her heart that she felt. She obviously thought very highly of you to have even taken the time to write it.

    Thank you for deciding to share it w/us. A client/friend of mine emailed me your post and I am grateful that she did. We all need reminders of how precious and short life can be and what is really important. God bless you…

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  17. The letter was beautiful and a reminder about what we should value most. I am sad that you had to defend yourself and her. One of the least attractive and heartbreaking “gifts” the internet has given us is the ability to be anonymous, while we vent our anger and disappointment with our own lives. I wonder if we as a people were always so mean spirited, but kept it hidden in our day to day transactions. Now people can dash off any jealous, selfish thought they have, hit send and click away to another site in a second, never witnessing the hurt they have caused. I love the good things the internet has brought to me, education, compassion and friendship, but I do despair at the thoughtless and hurtful comments that now seem to accompany any and all posts. God bless both of your families. Thank you for sharing the good and the bad with us.

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  18. Thanks for sharing!! I have cried and cried this morning after reading both the “letter on my door steps” and your follow up letter 🙂 this is a real eye opener for me as well as it is for others, I am a photographer myself and I to know of the importance of “capturing lifes precious moments” and I do try to myself on a daily basis. Life is to short. I do believe that we should treasue each second, minute, hour of everyday of our lives, and not to take for granted that we, or our loved ones are promised another day:) GOD IS GOOD either way. Thanks again and GOD BLESS!!

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  19. Pingback: What is a Portrait Worth? « Newsome's Studio of Photography, Inc.

  20. As both a professional photographer myself as well as a cancer survivor, I applaud you for sharing this letter. Cancer played a huge role in my choice to become a photographer…the awareness of how quickly time passes and how utterly utterly fast it can all change is the reason MANY of us chose this profession. Your heartfelt intentions in sharing the letter felt quite clear to me and I am saddened & disgusted at those individuals who failed to remember that if they have nothing nice to say or positive to contribute, then maybe they should zip it. There are a million factors that go into the cost of a professional portrait, not the least of which is often the investment of our hearts to our clients, energy, time spent away from our families…all well worth it to create a pause button in the lives of our clients and I have to admit that in addition to feeling heartbroken for the immeasurable loss this client and her family are suffering, I feel grateful for her articulation of the value of the images (professional or not) of loved ones in our lives. Thank you for what you do!

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  21. Allow me to add something to the mix.

    Many families have old–VERY old pictures, portraits and other images of far-flung and long-gone relations and friends.

    Take the time to go through them with other people to write down who those people depicted were, and if possible how they related to you and your family. I have literally hundreds of images dating back to Europe from before and after both World Wars–and I have no idea who the folks in them are, only that I may be related in some fashion to them. I may as well be looking at historical stock images for all I know of them.

    Photos of your history are wonderful to have–even better if you know of the context in which those photos were made. The World is made up of millions of wonderful stories, and you’ll never know them all; just try to make sure you know your own story before the details slip away over time.

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  22. All the negativity is, unfortunately, representative of what might happen in our society on any topic. I appreciated your first post and appreciate your followup even more. As my daughter would say, “Don’t let the meanies get you down!”

    As I posted on your original post, this generation will be missing out on so much more. How many people actually print out the tremendous number of photos and make notes on any of them? For that matter, how many people even hold a paper photo in their hands anymore!? I have photos with my grandmother’s handwriting on them. They mean the world to me.

    Take them, print them, and write on them! And have professional sittings regularly… you will never regret that!

    (For the naysayers: I’m not a photographer, and I do not know the blogger here.)

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  23. I admit that I haven’t read through all the comments here, but there is one thing that I’d love to add to all of the valuable things that have been said. PLEASE for the generations to come who will inherit your photos, make sure you label them with names and a date. There is nothing more sad then staring at a box of beautiful pictures with no names. Knowing that they are somehow related to you but you can’t fill in the family tree because anyone who would know who the subjects are are also long passed. Remember, family photos, whether professional or home made are pieces of history.
    Thank you for sharing this great post. Happiness and wonderful memories yet to be made in 2012.

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  24. The part I’m perplexed about is that you’ve been involved in some major milestones in this woman’s life. But not once have you written your sympathies, condolences, or even your thoughts are going out to them in this important blog. I understand privacy laws and why you would not show an image, but to not even extend a shred of sympathy was alarming.

    Lastly, you pointed out that the only reason you decided to finally post this letter was because a person made a comment that your print prices were much too high.. This makes it sound more like a big ol too-shay then wanting to get you point across.

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    • Nicole I donor know the blotter but truly resent your need to swear and condemn her on here. If you don’t like what you read feel free to move along. She doesn’t need to express her sorrow at the loss on hear. I for one appreciated the letter shame on you for you hateful post. You could have just as easily sent it privately so as to not take away from this post.

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  25. In response to Nicole’s post above I wanted to respond to her mostly – but share with others as well. Nicole obviously feels like I haven’t put enough heart into this – and over 600 posts and over 2k e-mails have stated otherwise, but I do know there are many that it will still not be enough. My condolences have been directly for and to their family. As you read her words – I’m sure most people understand that she spoke as such quite loudly with her thanks. I’m sorry you missed that – but I read that clearly. I don’t feel like I have been in-sincere because I haven’t stated it in a blog post, as my words to them were in person – not something I need to “sell” the masses on. I don’t feel like I am actually the one trying to make the point – I think she made the point alone.

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    • I’d kindly respect you do not tell me how I feel. I didn’t tell you how you felt. I only expressed my opinions on this blog, where I know there are several others who feel the same way. It had nothing to do with her letter itself, but on how this was approached by you and what you said.

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    • You actually did tell me how I “didn’t” feel enough – without even knowing me Nicole and that was very hurtful of you – and personal. I would rather defend the authenticity of the letter than have to defend my genuine feelings. I wish you every happiness and hope you are a positive person in other parts of your life. If you don’t have something nice and productive to add – most people are not appreciating it here. While I do listen to all opinions – I don’t agree with your view. This was to be a very positive experience and has been for thousands, it is sad when verbally attacked for something that I held very dear and has been positive for so many. This is not the place to bring me down or anyone else down – if you don’t want to take this in a positive light – then don’t visit the blog. Thank you.

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  26. If you always look for something wrong or bad – you will ALWAYS find it. There are the glass half full people and the glass half empty people… and then the milk is always sour people. Look long and hard enough and the milk always turns sour. So if you have something positive, happy or inspiring to say to all of the beautiful stories and comments please leave a note.

    If all you can see is sour milk… well… I’m busy with my glass is half full.

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  27. I thank you for sharing, and the follow-up. You did a fantastic job in sharing the actual letter and your feelings on this. I don’t enjoy or care to listen to the negative people. BIG HUGS, Steph

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  28. I for one loved the letter you posted and it touched my heart. I think you did the right thing by posting it and do not think you meant to use it as a ploy to get people to do business with you. Forget what that 2% is saying – they are the people who will find something wrong with anything and everything in the world!

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  29. My dear friend, This letter broke my heart too. However, there was a good reason to share the words of this tragic story. We all need a wake up call to make us realize how fragile life is. I absolutely know this was your intent and nothing more. Thank you so much for attempting to give us a look at how real life can happen to anyone. It sure makes me slow down and think about how important a memory can be in many ways. I intend to improve my life with making more time for the important things in life. Making memories for those we love.
    Blessings and Love
    Jeanne

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  30. I was inspired by your sharing this letter.

    I look at photography this way some times… we are like Jewelry designers.

    You can go to Hobby Lobby or any art store, and buy beads and string, and design jewelry to sell. Just like someone can invest all their time and money into finding precious stones, and metals and creating amazing pieces to sell.

    If you can afford it, you will spend the $500 on a pair of earrings, because they unique, and different (just like photographers). Just because we provide a service, we should have to feel guilty about what we charge.

    I’ve had both my parents struggle with cancer, and fortunately they have survived, but I do know that I will cherish every photo I have with everyone in my family.

    Thank you again for sharing. I find you to be an amazing woman, because I would hide right now, and not have the energy to fight off those 2% that are mean and distasteful.

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  31. Dear Jeanine,
    I read the letter and the follow-up post. I am in school currently to get my credentials to be a photographer and learn how to run my own business. I am not going to have a studio as I am going to do freelance and I can only hope I am successful. I just wanted to say that this letter and the following post has inspired me to make sure that this summer when my son comes to visit, I use my skills and talent to take more pictures of him, me and my boyfriend. I take SO many pictures of everything that strikes me and yet I forget about ME. I am also going to try and get him to Maryland where my mom lives so that he can see his grand-mother who he hasn’t seen in 3 yrs or so. Thank you for posting this letter and the post following it, it made me realize how much I am missing because I would rather hide behind the camera than be in front of it. All I can say is: Thank You and may you and your family always be blessed

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  32. TO EVEN QUESTION YOUR MOTIVES IS NOTHING MORE THAN A FEARFULL PERSON , BARKING AT LIFE. WELL DONE. HERE’S ANOTHER WAY TO HANDLE THE NEGATIVE TYPES.————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————THEY DREW A CIRCLE TO KEEP ME OUT, A TERRIBLE THING A THING TO FLOUT. BUT LOVE AND I HAD THE WIT TO WIN, WE DREW A BIGGER CIRCLE AND TOOK THEM IN

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  33. Jeanine,
    As a fellow professional photographer, I, too, can see this issue from both sides. Twelve years ago, my father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and underwent chemo to slow its progression. In the process, he lost his hair, so I got the idea of having my three other adult brothers shave our heads and have a group photo taken of us with Dad.

    I made arrangements to have a session and a big wall print in black and white done by another local photographer, but was stymied by one of my brothers who refused to have his head shaved. Understandable since he, too, had a cancer scare a few years earlier and lost his hair at the time and it had subsequently grown back even thicker. My regret is that I didn’t go ahead and push to have the session done even if one of us still had hair. It would have been a really special shot to all of us if we had gone ahead and done it.

    Your post has sparked a lot of interest because it’s a subject that I think has spoken to many of us at one time or another on both sides of the camera. Thanks for posting it and the follow up as you have.

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  34. Your blog posts have really hit home for myself and my fellow local independent photographers. All too often we are called and asked to quote our prices. So many people bawk at what I charge (which I assure you is VERY REASONABLE) for a portrait session. I work very hard with each family to provide images that are not static or cookie-cutter but rather that capture the family as they are- quirky personalities and all! My goal is to present them with a timeless rememberance of who they were as people at that precise second in time. I want their future generations to look at these photos and hopefully feel like they know a little bit of what great grandmother was like when she was younger. Of course I put a price on these memories – I have to. I quit a job I had for 15 years in order to pursue what I felt was my calling.

    I also would like to thank you for reminding me that even though I am a “pro” photographer and therefore no longer feel the need to buy those silly school portraits of my son (“Why do I want to buy theirs when I can take my own?!?!” but I never seem to get around to it because I am too busy capturing other people’s memories) – I need to take time out to capture who he is in the here and now before its too late!

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  35. Bravo to you for posting this follow up. I’m surprised (though I’m not sure why) at how people can so quickly jump to such negative places… Thank you again for sharing. It’s a powerful story and so very touching, less to me as a photographer, but more so to me as a parent and a wife.

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  36. Thank you for posting this follow-up and holding strong. Don’t worry about the nay sayers. It was a message to encourage all of us to pick up a camera and record our family’s lives. I happened to write a very similar post on the same day you wrote your’s, but instead mine was about a friend who lost her Navy SEAL husband in Afghanistan this summer. I’d love for you to read it: http://leaciceraro.com/blog/2012/01/the-power-of-the-snapshot/

    I’ts not there to guilt trip anyone, it’s just there to inspire and encourage. Just like your post. So thank you.

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  37. I never imagined after reading that post that anyone could have something negative to say about it.
    My husband and I suddenly lost a friend a few days ago who was 44 with a wife, and two young kids. This makes me think of them.

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  38. I’m glad that you posted the letter; it was beautiful and heartfelt. It really made me reconsider the impulse buys I – and probably many of us – make for a moment’s pleasure, when we might have been building up keepsakes to treasure for a lifetime. There needs to be better balance between these two things.

    I also applaud you for keeping their photos, family life, and your own condolences to them private. Grief is difficult enough without having to share it with, and defend it to, strangers.

    Thank you for sharing with us, and my sincerest condolences to your client’s family.

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  39. As a fellow photographer, I took both the initial post and follow-up as poignant reminders that we are doing so much more that bending light and composing frames when we photograph clients, friends, and families. We are documenting precious moments and memories that will become more valuable with the passages of time. Sometimes it may not seem like that, but quickly it could mean everything.

    As a person, it was a reminder to be part of life, not just the historian.

    Thanks for the post, and my condolences on you and your friends’ loss.

    Like

  40. I only have 2 daughters. As the “photographer” in the family, the first thing I did was purchased a Nikon D90. I wanted to get all those cute newborn pics and take pics of everything from birth til “death do us part”. Despite all the grumbling from some family members and their little remarks…..I’m not professional, I’m not perfect, but I try and I have gotten some very good pictures over the past 2 years! I’m learning and getting better…..and when I read that letter it made me cry and cry. Because you can’t have tooo many pictures! Although it seems like you can have too many when you are sorting them out…..but when my grandkids graduate from high school, go to college, get married, have kids of their own, and everything in between, I guarantee that EVERYBODY will look back at those pictures and smile, laugh, or cry when they remember that day or that moment and be so happy that the have those memories to share and a picture to remind them of those good times if they have forgotten once they get on with their busy lives. I’m glad you shared that letter and my heart goes out to the author and her family and I hope they have a lot of pictures to remind them of that special woman that once filled their lives.

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  41. Jeanine,

    You must be exhausted after defending yourself from the negativity this has generated.

    Thank you for sharing the letter and explaining why you chose to do so. The letter was of course very sad, but very poignant knowing how much she treasured her family and life.

    Nothing makes me happier as a portrait photographer to see the kindness in families.

    Nothing makes me more sad to see families take each other for granted.

    A word of advice… Unsolicited, yet sincere:

    Don’t let the attacks rob you of your energy. They are not only unwarranted, but ill-intended as well. As I’m sure you’re aware as a blogger, there is a phenomenon of disrespectful negativity in anonymous comments on the internet (known as trolling).

    The advice is, “Don’t feed the trolls.”

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    • You are amazing Brian – thank you so much for that. I’m really a very positive person and had every good intention with my sharing – and love the “Don’t feed the trolls.” THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. It helps me more than you know. I am exhausted… but mostly in good ways – as I’ve been trying to respond to as many people as possible and read everyone’s stories and experiences. Deep breath knowing I was just trying to do some good and so many people have opened up to me to share – so I am humbled.

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  42. This is a new era in photography – we can have as many or as few pictures as we choose. Anyone can afford a camera. I think the investments we make, whether they be in our own gear or in hiring someone else, are very important to those around us.
    Kudos to you for posting the letter. As for the haters who don’t like the fac that you chose to post it at a time that someone complained about your prices, I think that is neither here nor there. It is a heartfelt letter and a lot of people can relate to it.

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  43. It’s after midnight out here in Johannesburg, South Africa. I’m tired and have only just come across your post.

    Thank you, Thank you!

    Why? Because our group of volunteers [www.ubuntuhelpportrait.org] has spent much time, energy and effort under the Help-Portrait umbrella doing exactly what you point to – creating lasting memories for people – for many, their first and possibly last portrait!

    Your article is just the reminder we need as we start to plan to make 2012 an even greater year of giving back. Thank you!

    Like

  44. Pingback: The Value of Photography: Portraits Are More Than Paper

  45. That’s so sad she has passed away! But u did the right thing, for her to write the letter she would have wanted it shared with as many people as possible! I know it’s made me focus even more on the things that r important, my family n close friends. As u said if it makes a few pple take a family portrait then it’s worthwhile, if it makes someone come home from work on time n spend more time with their loved ones it’s worth it. I’m sure it’s made many pple focus on the non material things that r important, n that’s the ones u love! I can’t believe people would write negative comments to that post! Keep on sharing the story as will others for u! Xxx

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  46. Thank you so much for sharing the letter from Karen, and for taking the time to answer a lot of comments and post this follow-up. It is very obvious to me that you care about Karen and her family, and I wish her husband, children, friends and family peace and comfort.

    I never once saw it as a marketing ploy, or as a means to justify your pricing – which you shouldn’t have to do since it’s YOUR business, so you know what you need to charge in order to cover costs and still make some profit.

    The message I took from Karen’s letter was to take pictures any and every chance you get, whether by a professional or a friend. To have physical memories for years to come, when the mental images fade. I have a lot of photos from the moment I was born, up to now. Every time I move, I stop and look through them when I should be packing!

    My partner is in a band, and while we have many pictures and videos of him playing, I realise there aren’t that many of the two of us, and absolutely none that are printed – they’re all online and in our phones or cameras. This letter has reminded me that I need to fix that, and I’ll be taking him to a local department store this weekend. I’m also going to start saving up for a professional shoot. I have a few friends who, like you, do what they love to help support their family, and I would love nothing more than to have one of them take photos of us.

    Again, thank you for sharing this letter, and for inspiring so many people to share their stories as well (I read all the comments on the original post as well as this one).

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  47. My Mother died of cancer, but we’re so thankful for all the photos of her, that we have collected thru the years even when she was in her bed and about to go, most the event was documented by the photographers in our family i even made a collage as a tribute to “monumental lady”……thank you so much for sharing this! it gives me more enthusiasm to continue my work as a documentary photographer…..

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  48. As a mom & now a grandma,Ive been on the side of the camera taking those as you say the eye that sees beauty OR perfection most all times. your post came to me as I lay on the couch ,fighting the flu,I have sores on my lips,on my face & in my nose,running a fever for the 5th day,bags so big under my eyes I could carry your camera there for you. I cried,I have many times wished I was in those photos,But never felt it was a loss cause I never seem to like pictures of me myself, And now at 48 I have a cancer that theres no fix for ,& today you hit home, Just the urge to see what I look like to my sons,my husband & even my grandsons. maybe through their eyes Id not see only flaws but me their mom, their Gramma & his angel ,as they will remember from the photos I wont demand no longer ~ no one take as day after day fall away too fast,Thank you,not only do you have the eye for beauty BUT the heart for all kind & good.Thank you. & God Bless.

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  49. I am sorry to hear that you have experienced such negatvity…i cant believe people sometimes. Thank you for your work & creating memories for families..i agree it is soo important because we never know when it could be the last portrait of our loved ones..:) I sure do cherish my families memories on paper 😉

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  50. I just want to add my 85 yr old grandpa experienced for the first time on tues seeing his 2 great grandsons together, so he could take a photo. It was a bit hard for my sister to get there but she said she would never forgive herself if something happened n he didn’t get to c it. N when he departs us we have those memories, so precious captured in time.

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  51. I am a professional photographer and I am one of the people who circulated the original posting. I tell people all the time to get photos whether they are professional, with their point and shoot or even with their phone. Time passes too quickly and photographs freeze that moment in time. I lost my mother suddenly and I treasure every single photograph I have of her, from the semi-blurry snapshots to the ones she had professionally taken. Not once did it cross my mind that people would see this as a marketing ploy (until I read a few negative comments from people stating they felt that it was). I still do not feel that it was a scam or a ploy for business.

    I have been guilty of spending too much time behind the camera and not enough time in front of it. I decided in 2011 to take more self portraits and take more images with my children. And I plan to continue doing that in 2012 too.

    I hope that your posting the letter was just a reminder to people to get IN the photos and to leave memories for your family and friends. When you look at a photograph you are instantly transported back to that day and time and when that is all you have left of the person who is gone, it means so very much. Thank you for sharing with all of us!

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  52. I never once thought it was some kind of business tactic. Beautifully said! Nice job in explaining your position even more than you needed to. Just let the negative comments go.

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  53. I also want to thank you for your post. Three years ago I realised that there were no photographs of me with my dad. Plenty of dad by himself and with other family members but none with me. I planned a shoot with him and drove the 770km to his place only to find that he was too unwell to be photographed. I drove home and he died two weeks later. I would give anything to have that portrait with just the two of us. I wish my potential customers would realise just how important family photography is. Whether it is with the family camera or by a professional, it is something we should all do. AND HAVE THEM PRINTED! Don’t leave them on a disk or a computer only to find them unreadable in a few years. I recently found some eight year old CDs that had delaminated.

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  54. After reading everything that has been posted, I’m not sure I can adequately express EVERYTHING I’m feeling right at this moment. Very rarely am I touched so deeply by what I read on the internet, so I feel that I must say something. I have several points to make and I know what I’m going to write might be lengthy, but please understand that I’m writing less for YOU and more for ME.
    In 2012 we prefer our news to be short, direct and straight to the point, but if you make it to the end of my post, I hope you will have learned something new.
    I am a forty year old single father of three handsome boys and one beautiful daughter. I’m the son of a kind, loving, gentle father who passed away at the age of forty-eight. My father, my hero, had acute lymphatic leukemia. I was seventeen when he died. Dad wanted me to go to college to be an engineer, but I didn’t. As I grew older, I often thought that I had disappointed him. You see, I chose to devote my life to photography.
    As I read through the posts, I realized something very special.
    Six months before my dad passed away, he asked ME to photograph him. I remember how pleased he was with the photograph. And now, I think I finally realize how proud he must have been… of me. Even though he probably knew, I’d never be an engineer.
    As I continued to read, I also realized that if I were to leave this world tomorrow, my children would have NO photographs of us together. I’m always BEHIND the camera.. So, that’s going to change. TODAY.
    It’s my hope that those of us who live our lives behind the lens, will understand how important it is to our families to be in front, once in a while. I’m not just speaking to my fellow professionals. I’m speaking to every single dad and every single mom. Professional portraits are very nice, but to our children, to our families, it really doesn’t matter if that image is perfectly composed or even well lit. What matters is that what we hold in our hand is a reflection of what we hold in our hearts.
    Printed, paper photographs don’t have to be expensive, but they’re never cheap. They’re priceless. As I watched the evening news, I saw that Kodak is on the path to bankruptcy. How can this be? Because in 2012, our lives are so busy, we don’t seem to have time to print every photograph we take. It actually caused me to realize that even I, a professional photographer, takes hundreds of photographs of my children, that I never print out. They’re stored in a very fragile, and temporary place. On digital media. When my dad died, there was no such thing, but there was paper. In one hundred years, I can’t imagine how my great grandchildren might view photographs. Technology is a wonderful thing. But no matter what amazing technology will be available in 2112, I’m pretty sure there will STILL be paper. When I was a kid, I had vinyl records. As a teenager, I had CD’s, today, I have an iPod. So, why should we think that our families will have any way to view our most precious, treasured images? On computers? On Facebook? I have no idea. But I’m certain they’ll still have paper.
    I’m not making an argument for or against professional portraits. The point I’m trying to make is that when our time comes to leave this world, I know that our children and grandchildren won’t care as much about anything we leave behind more than the memories that we leave them with.
    Love your children. Take pictures. Take LOTS! Have pictures taken of YOU! Print them out and write on the backs! Stop thinking of yourself and your valuable time and think about the ones that love you. The ones that will be devastated when you go. Don’t think “I’ll have time”. We don’t know that we will. Life is short. Tragically short. A printed photograph of your dad might be worthless to some of you, but mine… MINE IS PRICELESS.
    Thanks to everyone who posted and thanks to anyone who made it to mine.

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  55. I have been following this story with many other photographers and have been appalled by the negative comments. You did a wonderful thing and had a beautiful friend/client. I wish her family the best and know that they are going through a lot right now but want them to know that her letter was received by many as it was intended. It was a true inspiration and filled my heart. And yes, I picked up my camera to take a few snapshots of my daughter climbing her favorite tree. I love those photos and might not have bothered if it wasn’t for her beautiful words.

    And finally, thank you for this follow-up post. I pondered how you were doing through all of this.

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  56. I commend you for posting the letter. I recently began my own blog. Upon hearing news that a young friend/client of mine had lost her mom at such a young age I decided to post a message I had received the day before . I was contacted via facebook by a woman that has been battling cancer her entire adult life. She is a mother of twins and has been married 11 years. Her family has never had professional photos taken. I posted her story on my blog….and like you, not as a ploy to endorse my business but to make people aware that life is short. I recently left the medical field where I dealt with death on a daily basis…I truly understand we have no promises for a tomorrow. Just wanted to offer my support to you.

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  57. As someone who shoots video of weddings and events, I have even had video of people speaking to the camera about how they wish they had video of their wedding. Sure, it was used by me for marketing, but I made it clear to the people I videotaped that this was how it was going to be used and they actually wanted that. They wished that viewers would see their story and choose to get video of their own wedding.

    And only a few years in, with the passing of my own mother, and seeing how little video I had of her, I endeavored to cover my own family more, and, when I shoot events, I deliberately spend considerable time covering grandparents, aunts, uncles, and anyone older in the family. Generally they like having some attention focused on them and if I give them a microphone to “give the newlyweds some well wishes,” it invariably launches into a long story about how they remember back when she or he was this little thing… a slice of live that I know the couple will cherish 5, 10 years down the road.

    I look at the posh event & photography studios today, and their glorious coverage of the rings, the hall, the shoes, the dress, the makeup, flowers, tables, tableware, ad nauseum. This all looks great in demos compared to “talking heads.” But will video of the cute shoes be as valued in 10 or 20 years when the grandparents have passed on?

    I now do more corporate video as a result.
    It’s hard to find 20-somethings who value what I, and many who are older and have lost someone special, value- images and sound of our loved ones while they were here.

    So thank you for putting this out there and reinforcing once again what the minority of us in this business know to be the silent truth– we produce images that matter by helping to illuminate memories of moments past.

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  58. While I understand entirely why it took you some time before feeling ok with sharing this, I am so greatful that you did. As a photographer I hope you dont mind that I passed it along to my clients. I only hope it touches each of them as it has me. As a human being who just got engaged, it made me cry, as Im sure it has many others. Its so amazing how much we take for granted in life including life itself and how so few really cherish it. I try daily to really take even just a few moments to breathe and appreciate all I have, but working 2 fulltime jobs sometimes life gets past me and so Thank you so much for sharing her story. God Bless you and her family.

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  59. I feel compelled to say that because of your post, which came literally on the heels of a very dear friend of mine posting on FB that her mother had passed of cancer on 4-Jan, I decided to began a quarterly session give away with all high resolution images on DVD for those battling cancer actively or in remission. I have to admit, it did occur to me that the post may have been taken as a marketing opportunity, with that said, after visiting your page, re-reading the article, I too would have posted it and disregarding any ‘nay saying’. The truth is not always pretty or easy to accept. Many of us will lash out (as the 2% did) to keep from having to admit to ourselves that this is real, life is short, and people are important. So are images of those people, and when they are gone, you’ll wish you had those images. Thank YOU for posting that blog. It took bravery. And because you did so 4 families in my area who wouldn’t have been able to afford a family session this year due to their own ‘war’ with cancer can have those memories free of charge. Maybe other photographers will follow…. it seems the very least we could do for our community. Pay if forward….and thank you for the post. Happy New Year.

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  60. I don’t know what to say. Some people are so ignorant that they have to turn things that SHOULD put their lives into perspective into an uproar. I don’t get those people, nor will I ever get them. I stay as far away as I can from them. I could say a million things about this topic but I would prefer not to. Instead, I am going to go watch my daughter sleep and just take the moment in. ❤ I think it was awesome that you posted that story. I am so sad that she passed away, but I am happy that her family has memories of her, because you were there to photograph their moments together.

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  61. I want to thank you for posting the letter and your follow up. I value pictures as a mom and a photographer. This post made me realize I had the perfect photos but not the true candid day to day photos. I have made it a priority to be more proficient with getting those precious moments with my family.

    Thank you!!!!!!!!

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  62. Pingback: a picture’s worth » The Suitcase Studio Blog

  63. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your story. i know that you put yourself out there in a BIG way, so thank you for doing so. I think that it’s important to spread the real reason behind us taking pictures… and anyone in the business knows it’s NOT for the money… HA! I just wanted to let you know that you moved me to share your story and a few words on my own blog: http://www.thesuitcasestudioblog.com/2012/01/a-pictures-worth/

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  64. I recently did a photo session of my grandmother and grandfather, who is in a nursing home with severe dementia and Alzheimers. It was a difficult session, but it was so important to me to capture this moment of the 2 of them together. I wanted to capture the tenderness and the love that they share, of my grandmother caring for him, in a way that only a bond more than 50 years old can do. One of my aunts wasn’t happy at all and refuses to even look at the pictures because its not the way she wants to remember her dad and I get that. But my point was, like I said, to capture the tenderness and years of love. You can view my bog on it here: http://rachelmckinneyphotography.com/love-is-forever-fort-worth-texas-couples-photographer/
    I thank you for sharing the letter with us, because it reminded me how I need to get in front of the camera more rather than be behind it.

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    • Ok – I have to say Rachel – I LOVE!!! This is exactly the thing that I wanted to see and for people to get from my posting of her letter. Thank you so much for your post and sharing your blog as well!!!!

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  65. Thank you! I know this all to well, as I lost my father to cancer in March,2011. I am also finishing up photography school this spring. It is somewhat ironic for me because this past Christmas as I was getting the camera ready for my three children to open presents my husband said to me “Put the camera away, and enjoy the kids opening gifts.” Ironically enough the last picture my father let me take of him was Christmas day 2010, he knew the cancer was spreading fast, and he did not want to be remembered as sick. Needless to say I reminded my husband of that, and how short life is, and kept taking photos.
    I also know that my four years of loans for school will take forever to pay back on a photographers salary, but then again it is not really about the money is it. The memories are far more important than the money that will come and go.
    Thank you for sharing.

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  66. Good on you Jeanine! I cannot believe there are such cynical, negative people out there that like to make it all about them. You clearly did your job amazingly well to leave such an impact on Karen’s life (may she rest in peace) and although I photograph Pets, I once had a photoshoot with a beautiful old horse who passed away 3 days after our shoot. The thanks and gratefulness I received from that client still brings tears to my eyes. Money is nothing – LIFE and capturing that life in images to EVERYTHING x Thank You for being so brave x

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  67. Thanks for the answer in the second question in the ‘FAQ’.
    I was wondering, but never dared to ask.

    Btw, I don’t know why people have questions about you.
    What I see from your first post (in this ‘series’) is really not about you the photographer or your business. It is about life and experience that one of your clients experienced. It really touches our heart and soul in many ways.

    Also, It shows the hidden roles and/or functions of photographers as they record and document the world, events, people, and lives of people at a given moment – a slice of time-space.

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  68. Jeanine, thank you for posting the letter and for starting this discussion thread. For me, it brings into a new light three unrelated occurrences in my own life this past month. One was a thank you from a father for a particular photo I had taken. The second was an envelop of old photos mailed to me by a widow, photos of my family and me with her late husband. The third involved a cancer diagnosis that’s pretty close to home.

    Though I believe we should not live in fear of what lies ahead of us, I do believe “today” and all our previous “today’s” will only be treasured and preserved if we make efforts in those directions. To have written that letter to you, the sender obviously has been touched deeply by those images you have captured for her in the past. For her to have shared that at the time she did speaks highly of her character and of your abilities as her photographer of choice. My sincere thanks.

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  69. Jeanine,

    I wanted to thank you for posting the letter from you client. I am…was…(am?) a professional photographer. Earlier this year, I packed up my camera. I was tired of working so hard and just not making it with a career in photography. I went to school for photography. At one time, I loved everything about. I loved the sound the camera made, I loved being the one to capture a moment between a bride and her father that second before he walked her down the isle and gave her away, The smile a mother has when she’s looking at her baby…all of it… but then came the day when i didn’t please a bride. In one minute someone took everything i loved away from me and replaced it with doubt and insecurity. From that moment forward i worried that I charged too much for what i was worth. When I read your post it made me cry and smile at the same time. What an amazing individual she was to take the time to write those words to you considering how little time she had left. Thank you for posting it – regardless of the negative input from the 2% – It made me realize that some day, some where out there someone is looking at a picture I took and is thankful for the memory. I appreciate you putting something so personal out there for all of us to see. You may have just inspired me to pick up my camera again.

    Blessed be 🙂

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    • Thank you so much Megan. I’ve been a photographer for a long time and I can tell you that I have been in your place before – it isn’t easy as photography is a very personal thing, so when things don’t go just right we can take a beating emotionally. I’ve had my share of highs and lows in this business, and I truly hope you do pick up your camera again some day. But I guarantee that you have played a part in the memories of people – and that is a very important thing for generations to come.

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    • Megan….THIS MESSAGE IS JUST FOR YOU.
      You said “I am…was…(am?) a professional photographer”.
      Megan, you ARE a professional photographer. This is how I know…
      First, I’d like to share why I think we do what we do. We are “professional photographers” because we are first, ARTISTS. We shoot for the same reason people paint, sculpt, sing, etc.. We have a unique ability to create something that makes, not just us, but others happy. (I don’t think we do it because we believe that it’s somehow going to make us very wealthy.) When we picked up our first camera, we kept shooting, because it made us happy. At some point, I, like you, (like every professional photographer) learned that we also have an ability, a talent, a gift for making others happy too. If you’ve ever done that Megan, if you have that gift, you ARE a professional photographer. Period. You are an artist. The only reason you had a difficult time deciding which to type (am vs. was) is probably because of something not related to art at all. Enter, “the all mighty dollar”.
      We artists just love talking about money don’t we? I don’t, I hate it, but that’s what defines us as “professionals” though. The word “professional” does not, in this sense just relate to the art we create. It relates to the business we’re engaged in. The commerce. We don’t just do it for fun, we do it to earn enough money to support our families. It’s not our hobby, it’s our job. And we do it because we LOVE it Megan. We love to create. We have to! It’s in our blood. Remember that Megan.
      Second, you wrote “… i worried that I charged too much for what i was worth.” What’s wrong with that statement is that you are equating what “you” are worth based upon your ability to generate income creating art. Art is subjective. Not everyone will like your photography. But your work does not define what “YOU” are worth. We are not worthless just because we can’t please everyone, everyday. If you meant “I worried that I charged too much for what my ART was worth.” then that’s a very different thing all together.
      It’s very difficult for any of us to put a price on what we create. I also think that we all have some days when we think we aren’t generating art that might meet our own standards, but I’ll get to that in a moment. Now, you didn’t say that she (your bride) was displeased with your photography. I’m sure she chose you based on your unique ability to create the art that you’ve been able to provide to your clients in the past. My experience tells me that what made your bride unhappy was money. You said ” but then came the day when i didn’t please a bride. In one minute someone took everything i loved away from me and replaced it with doubt and insecurity.” Your doubt and insecurity is a very normal thing. It’s only when we allow money and commerce to stifle our creativity as artists that we start to second-guess our abilities, our talent, our gift.
      If you stick with your passion, if you remember why you decided to make it your career, and pick up your camera again, you must realize that you might wake up one day and not have a creative thought in your head. It might even last for a while. But you haven’t lost anything Megan. You can’t loose the ability to create art once you’ve gained it. You just have to tap in to the feelings you had when you saw what you could do with a camera. Get back to the very basics of it and create something artistic Megan. Something that may only make you happy. When you do that, the doubt and insecurity might just fade away. You might just LOVE it again Megan! You might just realize that you CAN charge other people money for what you create!
      I pray that you don’t ever put your camera down Megan. I pray that what ONE person says or does won’t allow you to think that you are not an artist, that you’re not good enough to create, or that what you create is worthless. Megan, unpack your camera, create something wonderful and get back to doing what you love, please.
      And don’t ever think that if you get stuck or have any difficulty in this business that you are alone. You’re not. Professional photographer’s all over this world are right here with you Megan. That’s what PPA is for. It always helps me to know that if I have problems in this business, there is always another photographer somewhere that will help me get through it.

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  70. Dear Jeanine,
    Your posts have been posted to a professional photography group I run on Facebook, and I have just seen the link. I believe in you and your integrity and 100% in your reasons for posting it, I’d have done the same.

    Yes it will and ‘should’ stir people to get decent pictures taken, and that IS why it was important to post. As professionals we would benefit from this post as people are made aware that time IS precious and family memories more precious than ever, and I don’t feel any guilt that people come to my studio for me to create stunning and honest portraits of them.

    Whilst I agree that even mobile phone pix can be important, ie our own family snaps, I will relate just one really recent and important example about the need for professional quality images.

    Not long before Christmas, I was contacted by a family who I’d shot family portraits for several years back. Their 19 year old lad had drowned after jumping into a choppy sea to save his friend who’d got washed off the cliffs. Both drowned. In the intervening years they didn’t do any more family portraits, so the last and only really nice shot they had of their lad was an out of focus, slightly blurry and 1.5MB compressed jpeg from a compact camera. The lad was also in a family group with his arm over his mum’s shoulders. This was the image they wanted to use as a poster sized memorial image for their sons funeral.

    I spent ages in Photoshop using all the tools to try and crop, define, sharpen, bring out detail and clean up the shot, as well as interpolate ready to print to the maximum of A3+ which was really even then more than it should ever have gone, but the family were extremely grateful for all the work and the print I produced for them. And for all that work, what did I charge ? Nothing. I did is because I felt so awful for this beautiful lovely family who had been such fun to shoot a few years earlier. I put myself in their situation and knew how much that last photographic print meant, and would continue to mean to them. I was just so sad that I didn’t have a professional quality image to work with. I’d have done them an A1 sized print for nothing if I’d had a file.

    Before I saw this post of yours, I had already made a post on my FB page about my experience and the critical importance of getting decent photos shot, regularly, even if from an amateur, as log as they have exceptional people and technical skills, so that when the time comes, a clear and true and honest set of images are always available to the family left behind. You don’t ‘need’ a pro, but most really are worth every penny as they can guarantee truly beautiful studies of us and our families.

    Thanks for sharing Jeanine, I like thousands of others have reposted, not as marketing, but as a really wise reminder to all of our friends and customers that photographs are all that’s left over time.

    Glyn

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  71. ❤ I loved, loved the post. It was an awesomely moving story. I am new in the photography world. Its a hobby mostly. Not sure if it will ever get anywhere. I have recently come up with an idea to photograph people who have a devastating illness, and want the memories, free of charge. There is nothing more powerful than the memories a loved one leaves behind. Thank you for keeping me inspired.

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  72. thank you so much for all of this…..you never know what’s to come. Now’s the time to take that photo, record that memory. Thank you for the reminder and one that I pass on to my clients as well.

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    • I loved both your posts and stumbled across them ‘by accident’…photos are so precious. My Dad has been taking photos of us as a family/ with friends my entire life, and it has only been in the last 10 years as I’ve started to take photos myself, that I’ve begun to appreciate the true beauty in each and every one of them, and in so many moments of our lives. Looking back at photos sums up a memory in some ways better than a thousand words, especially after family and friends have moved away, grown up, or passed away.
      So, thank you for this timely reminder. Be encouraged, you sound like a loving, caring, wonderful person who gets to take photos for a living…amazing that you get to use your talent for your job. I bet your family and friends love the photos that you take, whether they are “candid, on the fly, or in the moment…” or professional shots.

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  73. Hi My name is Sue. I have cancer. I have had radical surgery and chemotherapy and have been cleared so far from aggressive ovarian cancer. My cancer honeymoon – all the sickness, surgery – is over. Time has flown past so quickly these past 6 months. Now is the hard times. Dealing with the new me – the one who has to live with cancer. I will never be the same. Yes this is good, as I now more than ever look at life so differently. I am wholesome, I look at me, then my loved ones, EVERYTHING. Memories, photos, cuddles, smiles, spontaneous idiot faces on film. How we all laugh and loved our photographs now I love them more. Yes sadly cancer is real – it happens more than you know when you havent got it and then when you have your own cancer, you look and every second person has or knows someone and is deeply affected by the disease. Bit like when you first fell pregnant, one started to notice how many pregnant tummies were walking around a shopping centre.
    Cancer has many positives the here and the now for one is one of the biggest.. Our society rushes – Dont rush your life away. Dont wait for Cancer or Sudden Death to realize what each and every one of us has.
    Thank you for sharing a Most precious Letter – for me personally, another wake up to say “you are alive” I will be taking more photos now because of this Letter. I will somehow get a family photo done. A challenge with our children in another state. BUT I will get this Photo for tomorrow and the next day. I will live to get this photo.
    I thank the Beautiful Lady who poured her heart, anguish and grief into the “Letter”. Sadly her journey has been, but my heart and soul will always think of her and her family, and inspire me to fill my journey to the brim and overflowing.
    I thank you for sharing the Legacy “A Letter on My Doorstep” she left this for us ALL of us.

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  74. Wow, this post really struck me. I find it incredible that you have received any negative feedback at all, I am a photographer… it never fails to amaze me how little value people can place on an images (theoretically I am not just talking about professional ones either). But that thing, that so rare a thing… a snapshot in time, an image to spark a memory, a smell, a voice so precious is surely a priceless thing in essence.

    What professional photographers do (good, passionate ones mainly I imagine) is allow most people to find this. I take ‘snapshots’ of my family with my phone, my compact camera…. if I get THE ‘magic’ shot with those, then brilliant. However more often than not, my clients will thank me for THE shot, the one that takes them to a time, a place, allows them to fully see the individuality and character of their son, or their daughter/mum/family etc.

    My favourite pictures of my own children as babies, I loved them when I saw them first, now however… now is different. Now the pictures are of moments passed and each time I look at those little moments in time, I realise the photos mean more and more to me. With each passing day, photos can do something incredible, unlike almost anything else we can ‘buy’ or ‘possess’ they only grow in value, they only become more important.

    I treasure my old family photos, like a pp said, I love to look through at my great grandmother or my grandma in her school uniform. So precious to glimpse history and character in my family. As a photographer, I still make sure that I get images of my own family (images with ME in them as Jeanine said)…. I appreciate their value so much and I am glad that I will leave things for my children and hopefully future generations to enjoy.

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  75. Pingback: The Value of Family Portraits | Family Portraits Salem Oregon newborn, baby, couples

  76. A friend posted your blog link on Facebook, he too is a photographer. I’m glad that you are more focused on the positive than the negative. We spend, or rather waste precious time in our lives dwelling on negatives and things out of our control. I encourage everyone to step into the positive.

    My family learned in November that my father has terminal cancer and we will be thinking in terms of months moreso than years now as it relates to his physical presence. However, through memories and photos (crazy 70’s fashions or 1000’s of digitals over the last decade) he will influence us far past his time with us. His year old and 7 year old grandsons will know him and the love he had for them. I was sure to have the camera out even more than usual over the holidays. I’m hopeful should there be more grandbabies in the future they too will know him and know that while he hasn’t held them nor laid eyes on them that they would’ve been everything to him.

    Thanks for sharing the letter!

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  77. I just wanted to thank victor for his response to my post. it was a much needed reminder of why I am who i am. Sorry for hyjacking this – i don’t want to take away from the amazing thing you have done but i thought it was important to let him know his thoughts were appreciated.

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  78. Thank you for sharing the letter. It was a good reminder for all to take the time to capture our family and friends with a photo. If a person can’t afford a professional then the letter still applies, just take a picture with whatever equipment you have. Please dont be discouraged by the haters.

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  79. Pingback: Personal: Time Flies – The Value of a Photograph | Hailey Nordstrom Photography

  80. OMG I LOVED THE LETTER AND I DO THINK YOU ARE A GREAT PERSON FOR POSTING THE LETTER THE DOCTORS FOUND A 4 INCH TUMOR IN MY HUSBAND 4 MONTHS AGO WE HAVE BEEN TOGETHER FOR 36 YEARS SO FAR EVERY THING IS GOING GREAT THANK GOD SOME TIMES GOD GIVES US A WAKE UP CALL TREASURE WHAT YOU HAVE TODAY FOR TOMORROW IT MAY BE GONE IT,S NICE TO KNOW THERE ARE STILL PEOPLE LIKE YOU WHO CARE AND SHARE THIS GREAT LETTER .

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