Recently my family suffered a terrible loss. My Dad passed away. We were all devastated. Still are.
After his passing we did what many families do. We took down the photo albums and looked through them, reminiscing about times gone by.
But for me, one thing was glaringly missing; there were no photographs of me with my Dad. Nothing until my wedding day, when he proudly walked me down the aisle.
Dad was very much like me. He was the photographer of the family. When I was young he used Cine film. He liked to shoot his silent home movies, and then edit them, often inserting commentary over the top of important moments with his dry humour. Later he moved to a VHS video camera, and was very liberal with his filming. Every family moment, every day out, every holiday, lovingly captured and memorialised. Amidst all this, he also shot still photographs; later on building his own darkroom in the summer house at the end of the garden.
The realisation that my Dad and I didn’t appear together in print until I was in my mid-twenties was like a knife to my heart. It hurt. My Dad and I were so close when I was a child, I was his shadow. Yet no-one thought to pick up a camera and capture those moments that we spent together.
I’ll always treasure the photographs we do have together; my wedding photos. Him standing by my side, smiling awkwardly. Seeing his little girl get married. You can see the pride on his face.
But it will always haunt me that, to future generations, there will be no visual link between us until that day.
They say you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone. Well thats not entirely true. We knew what we had. My Dad was a very special man, and we all knew it. But you never know how important a photograph is, until you don’t have it. And by then, its just too late.
So this is a heartfelt message. To Mums and Dads, siblings, Grandparents. Pick up your camera, or your phone. Take that shot. You don’t have to look perfect. You don’t have to be ready, or looking. Because when the time comes and you are gone, those left behind won’t care that your hair is a mess. They won’t care that you’re in your pyjamas or have food down your top. They will just be happy to have that memory, that little snapshot into life as it was. Just get in the photo. Please. One day they will be all they have left. Photographs have never been more important.