A beautifully-talented photographer friend gave me the best advice possible - take your camera everywhere with you. So now I'm making it my mission to take my DSLR wherever we go. Small trips. Big trips. Simple trips. I'm no photographer and I hardly have knowledge of the technicalities of photography (there are some classes in school you should definitely pay attention to) but I'd really like to improve. At the very least so I have a wonderful family album as years progress and all of us grow.
As a child, I always remember a viewfinder pressed up against my father's eye, his aviator-framed glasses hanging out his hand, and his finger on the trigger. Do you know how much I appreciate those photos he took now? Now that he's left this world, now that my mother has grown older, now that I have grown older, now that things have changed drastically, now that things are not as simple? My memory is awful. I'm talking I-just-set-something-down-and-now-I-don't-remember-where-it-went awful. So to be able to go back to those photos and relive those moments is such an amazingly emotional experience.
"What was Dad wearing?? Those socks almost go up to his knees!"
"Wow! Look how blonde and curly my hair was!"
"Oh my gosh, those braces and that hair. Burn that!"
"I remember that day. The air was crisp and I felt so big riding on the lawnmower with Grandpa."
Words allow you to reminisce. Story-telling is such an exceptional way to relate with people you've had experiences with and I absolutely love a good story. But photos. Photos allow a story and a specific image to go along with it. Photos bring you right back. Photos allow you to remember every little detail you may have forgotten. The way someone's house was decorated, a hilarious photo hanging in the living room, your aunt's hideous sweater, the smirk someone had on their face, the piece of hair out of place, the exact placement of everything at that specific moment. Photos are memories we can bring with us even when we forget.
After my father passed, I loved looking at old photos of him with my mother. The way his hair curled, his wild and spirited nature, his horribly mismatched outfits, him with his best friend, him with his family, him simply as he was. They helped me remember things that I couldn't. They helped me remember things that were no longer prominent in my mind and they kept his face fresh. Not his unhealthy face but the bright, spirited one I grew up loving and wishing I could be like.
David was never able to meet him so I've gone through photos showing him what my father was like and who he was as a person. It's the closest he'll ever get to meeting him and I'm grateful to be given that opportunity. My grandparents were also big into taking photos so I have his baby book, long before I was ever even a thought, and holy shit - does Maddox look just like him when he was a baby!
Always take photos of your loved ones. Especially in their rawest moments: right when they wake from a nap, while they're cooking dinner, while they're doing their favorite happy, while they're mad at you for taking a photo, while they're laughing. Take them. Because you'll miss them when they're gone.
With the invention of smart phones and the rise in technology, I see a lot of people complaining that people have their phones out rather than experiencing something and that really upsets me. Cameras have been around for years and have grown so much you can actually fit them into tiny devices. The great thing about cameras is you can experience something while you take a photo of it and then you can experience it again down the road. It's a great deal and it doesn't take away from the moment. You're still living it. You're simply viewing it through a lens.
With that said, that doesn't mean you always need a camera and honestly, most people don't unless they feel it's worthy. There are some moments that I like to have for myself. Just me and just the moment. Often times, it's with Maddox, Dave, family, friends, loved ones. Moments I'm too in love with and engrossed in to take a photo of. And definitely concerts. I always try to remind myself to take my phone out to take photos and videos during sets but then the time arrives and I can't do anything but feel the music, move with the music, smile at the people I'm with, and soak it all in.
Regardless, I'm going to keep taking photos. Even though my skill is poor and I can hardly handle getting a decent short while simultaneously focusing, awful photos are still worth it to me. Maddox won't be little forever and I want to remember every little moment I can. The way he sits, the way he stands, the way his hand curls over a ball, the way his hair sticks up on his own, the way he smiles, the way he moves, the way he loves, the way he learns. Every wild thing about him, I want wrapped up in photos so down the line, when I can no longer remember, I have something simple and wonderful to hold on to.