On This World Photography Day

In a lot of ways, a photograph is a magical invention. A photograph has the ability to freeze moments-a time machine, if you will. No matter how much time passes, you are able to be with people who may no longer be here in places that may no longer exist. A photograph affords you the ability to connect with people, and that, my friends, is a most primal need for all human beings. Human beings are incredibly visual creatures, which explains the power a single image can hold. Just one photograph can enact serious social change on a local, national, or global level. It provides perspective and cultivates compassion in a way that is unique to photography and unattainable by any other artistic medium.

On a more personal level, a photograph can be the bridge to people we long to see, times we desire to revisit, or places we wish we could go back to just one more time. Back in December, I wrote a post about a Christmas gift for my grandma. My gram has dementia, which means on a good day she knows my name, and on a harder day she is agitated and confused and her memory doesn’t serve her very well. For her gift, my sisters and I crafted a book full of photographs documenting all the way back to her grade school pictures. As she flipped through the pages, she was able to recall phone numbers and addresses of her siblings, she told stories of the people who were in her wedding, and she reminisced on the love of her life, my grandpa, who was taken from her all too soon. On the last page of the book she paused gazing at the last image, which happened to be a note in my grandpa’s handwriting.   It was almost as if she didn’t want to close the book and enter back into a reality that was far less familiar to her. She came back to us for those moments all because of a photograph.  More recently I lost my dad. I find myself feeling very vulnerable even writing those words on this page as it is a phrase that does not come naturally yet. In the days following his passing, I found myself obsessing over locating every image that existed of my dad and me. I wanted to hold every moment that I shared with him in my hands and never let them go. I wanted to go back to being three years old, sitting on his lap in my ice skating costume right before my first ice show. I wanted to go back to the picture of first learning how to ride my bike, his hand gently holding onto my bike seat until he knew I’d be good without his help, and his face beaming in the background of my very shaky first few attempts. I wanted to go back to the pumpkin patches, and the softball games, and the marathon races, and the summers spent at the lake. I wanted to go back to when I had my dad. As I spent hours gazing at picture after picture, I realized that I could go back. I was back. Each picture evoked feelings of such intense love and gratitude to have had my dad in my life. Some pictures made me laugh really hard and others brought tears, but each image provided a sort of spiritual bridge that I could sprint across and physically feel my dad’s love again. Every photograph provided comfort, even if only temporarily, from the pain I felt in having experienced such a significant loss. The images I have of my father are my most prized possessions. The pictures make me feel whole again.Photo cred: Robb Davidson PhotographyAs I reflect on this World Photography Day, I feel humbled and honored to be able to document the monumental events people hire me to photograph, knowing that someday my work may bring a sense of peace, love, happiness, and maybe even hope to my clients. If nothing else, I have the opportunity to build a bridge that will forever exist for them whenever they may want to use it.