Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Portraits of a Lifetime
There seems to be a disproportionate emphasis placed on portrait photography at the beginning of life compared to the end, although both are very important.
Over the years, I intermittently receive calls from people, looking for an old photo I had previously taken of their now deceased relative. It might have come from a wedding or a commercial shoot that I had done years ago. The sudden "new" importance this portrait has taken on is huge and I am so glad that I can produce the photo. It is one of the reasons, I am unable to depart with negatives dating back to 1982.
Today I spent a few hours at Presbyterian Homes which provides assisted care for the elderly. My goal was to produce portraits of people who need to be remembered, but normally would not have their portraits taken because of logistics or finances. I did quick simple portraits of the residents and will deliver a print along with a cd to them. I did not charge for this. It was a rewarding way to spend a few hours. After being there just 20 minutes I had already photographed two people over 100. One 90 year old man wants to use his photo for his obituary. Another couple had been married for 68 years!
The portraits had a secondary affect of making everyone feel good about the process. I also began to feel a certain weight of responsibility, thinking this may be their last photo taken.