It's easy to lose sight of why you love photography. It sometimes feels like you spend so much time selling the medium's power, that you forget its power can be greater than you can even describe.
In early winter last year, my grandmother went shopping with my grandfather. She had been quietly suffering with bone cancer for nearly a decade and its toll on her body and mind had swelled and become glaring for her loved ones to see. My grandfather — her relentless and loving carer — asked her to stand by the entrance while he got the car and brought it to her, to save any undue discomfort and pain it would cost her in making that short commute. It was a blustery and wet day, and her fragility was overpowered by a sudden squall. She fell to the ground, hitting her head on the concrete with little resistance.
I sat uncomfortably close to the hospital bed with her hand rested lightly on my own. She lapsed in an out of consciousness as we waited for swelling to calm and the severity of her brain damage could be assed. As a woman of her age, ravaged by cancer, weak and debilitated, her inexplicable fight was unlikely to be able to see off this challenge. In the small hours of the following morning, she passed.
Wrapped in grief and tragedy I didn't think about photography for a few days. That was until the day of her funeral. I helped carry her coffin out of the rain, under the small archways, and in to the chapel where it was gently rolled in to its position front and center. My grandfather, carrying 65 years of loss on his shoulders, placed a flower on the coffin. Behind the flower he placed a picture in a silver frame. The photograph inside was one I had taken just a few years prior:
I had always cherished the photo; it encapsulated the loving, playfully irreverent pair they were. But in that emotionally inflated moment I remembered just how important and powerful photographs can be as time rolls on past. It was a moment that would have otherwise dissipated in to the ether — albeit with genuine smiles all round — but instead gets to be enjoyed and relived for years, even decades, to come. My grandfather loves the photo and its value to him only serves to increase its value to me.
It's easy to lose sight of why you fell in love with photography. You get wrapped up in your shoots with celebrities, weddings, cars, landscapes, and so on, and so you should; they're important. But it's worth remembering that having your camera with you and photographing family and those precious to you will pay dividends in the long term. It's a shame it took a tragedy for me to remember that, but it's a silver lining I'll cling to.