99% of this blog has been dedicated to telling photo stories of people around the world. But today, I wanted to share some thoughts I had recently about photographs and why they matter. And it started with a birthday present!
On my last birthday this photo was sent to me by my sister, Annie. I don’t think she knew just how much it would mean to me when she sent it, but I was pretty much taken aback when I opened her package to me and saw this picture. I stared at it. And stared some more… in that moment, I felt a myriad of emotions.
It’s me and her. Ages 3 and 2. We didn’t know our two younger sisters yet, and I have no idea where we are sitting or what we had been doing, nor who the photographer is. We were kids: innocent. We hadn’t tasted the best that life had to offer yet. Nor did we know what it really meant to worry; or what taxes are; or what first kiss was like (or a breakup); or what our parents divorcing would feel like; or what it would be like to experience death firsthand. I saw the photo and felt all of these things jumbled together in an instant: a million reminders that I have lived a good story and (God willing) have more stories to live for many years. Beneath it all: I love my sister. Someone snapped this simple photograph, and as a result gave me this photo as a reminder 33 years later.
This is the power of a photograph: they remind us that we are alive. Photographs matter because the people in them matter; at the center of the images we make are real people living real stories. They will grow, love, win, lose, move, stay, laugh and cry. All we have to do is tell the truth, and they will matter infinitely to the folks we have the privilege of photographing.
We are honored that this is our profession.