There is a group my friends Lenz Photography and I belong to on Facebook. It's what you would expect from a group with a bunch of photographers on it. Lots of constructive critique, building each other up (the occasional knock down, sadly), trading ideas, equipment specs and a bunch of nerdy stuff photographers like.
Once in awhile, however, there will be a post that just really does it to you. This one hit a chord with Alexandra Lenz and I and although we don't know the photographer or the client personally, this story is beautiful. It really brings home the point I made in this blog I wrote from the heart about my experience of loving a woman who refused to exist in images.
I have posted the original post from the forum in it's entirety, because I can't think of any other way to convey the emotional and beautiful message behind it.
I have quite literally just been brought to tears. I don't think there is anything else that could possibly put things into perspective, especially as I have been doubting myself and the value of my work recently. Just received this email.
I hope you are ok and everything has been going well for you in your photography, you’re pictures look amazing. You may not remember me contacting you at the beginning of this year but I asked you about your prices as I was interested in doing a make over photo shoot for my daughter Jennifer, and possibly having a dress for her to. I thought your pictures were really nice and different too, so I thought this would have been a nice thing to do for her 25th birthday in April. However, I didn’t expect it would be so expensive and was in complete shock when you first told me. There was no way I could possibly bring myself to spend so much money on just pictures, my husband certainly wouldn’t have been happy either. So I didn’t book and in the end we didn’t get any photos taken for her.
I am contacting you today because I saw your post on facebook and it touched me. I just wanted to say how sorry I am for not believing in you and your work and for not booking with you. It fills my heart with complete and utter sadness, and brings my eyes to tears to tell you that she died in a car accident over the Summer whilst she was with her friends in Manchester. Obviously it has been a very difficult time for us and difficult for us to cope and come to terms with, she was my baby girl, my only girl. My husband and I were looking through the photos of her to use for her funeral and to our horror we realised the last time she had any sort of professional picture taken, was when she was 16 in her last year of school, she looked so different back then. Since then we only a have a handful of snaps from different family events and holiday photos that aren’t really that nice and drunk photos of her with her friends on facebook, because she didn’t like having her picture taken. We have nothing as a nice memory of her. Nothing recent we can really blow up and hang on the wall to see her beautiful face everyday. I am so worried that I will forget what she looked like, what her smile looked like, her beautiful long red hair and her gorgeous freckles. And all because I didn’t think you were worth it. I wish to God that I could go back to that day and tell myself to stop being so pathetic and to just book you. I know you would have taken such amazing pictures of her and would have made her feel so pretty. But that moment is gone forever now and there is nothing I regret more than that. To top that off my Mum also died earlier this year too after a stroke and I don’t really have that many photos of her either.
You probably don’t want to spend your busy time reading depressing emails like this from middle aged women when you photograph such beautiful young people with their lives ahead of them, but I just wanted to reach out to you and tell you that you are worth it. I wish, I wish, I wish I could have realised that back then, but it is too late and I will be forever sorry about that. Please don’t ever give up what you are doing, your work is so incredible and powerful and I realise that now. You are expensive, but worth every penny because of what you do. you never realise what a simple picture could mean.
I look forward to following your photography and I am sure you will be very successful.
Thank you for your time.
WOW. You see, sadly, it is not always the children missing a beautiful work of art portraying the parent, sometimes it is the opposite. I cannot in my heart think of anything more upsetting than that. Yes, we charge decent money for what we do as portrait artists and modern storytellers, however, what we give is a gift. Not just for our wonderful clients, but for our souls too. We get to know we immortalized a soul, frozen in an image to be cherished by loved ones forever. This is why we do what we do. We love it, and we hope you do, too.