One of the great privileges of being a portrait photographer is getting the opportunity to be a small part of my clients’ lives as they grow, change, and move from one stage of life to another. Whether it be a graduation and then wedding, a wedding and then the first baby, or a series of family portraits that document special milestones I always feel a special connection with these returning clients, a bit like a trusted auntie.
Just a few weeks ago I was invited to photograph the Hamilton Family. It was a rather short session as their son needed to get home to pack — pack for his first post-training assignment in the military. I had, 4 years previously, photographed the son for his High Senior portrait, before he headed off to college, and now here he was a full grown man on his way to a new life. Just this past January we did a special High School Senior session for his talented little sister. Amazing and so humbling to watch as this family moves into a new stage of life.
I think because I have already passed through most of these life stages myself, having raised three children and moved into the realm of grandparenthood, I become rather nostalgic, wistful when doing a portrait session. I know how fleeting each stage of life really is. I want to stop time, if just a moment, so the person can later look back at that tiny hand or freckled nose and remember.
For me, portrait photography is something intimate, something to be treasured, almost holy. Perhaps that is an overstatement, but truly, I feel so blessed to be permitted to enter into the “family circle” in this way, knowing that these images will likely be passed down to future generations, that they will be shown to great-grandchildren,
” . . . and this is what my father’s mother looked like when she was your age. See that? You have her eyes.”