This idea obviously did not originate with me, and I have no idea if there is even just one person to credit it with. It's a simple idea that struck me after I saw it floating around Pinterest. The idea is this: The greatest photograph you'll ever take is a simple portrait of someone you love. That's really it. Love shows through your lens. Love shows in the eyes of your subject. Many, many people have told me that my photos of Des are a bit of a love story because you can see the looks on his face and know that they were directed at me. Sometimes he's looking over my shoulder or to one of my sides and smiling. Those smiles are for Cassidy and Scarlet. Love, all around. This family smiles a lot. Smiling's our favorite.
I suppose there's some recycled sentiment due here, about how the worst photographs you'll ever take are the ones you didn't take. Although that sounds ridiculous. Let's just say that missed opportunities are exactly that. Missed. There are photos I've wanted to take but have never seen the situation play out. There are photos I have dreamed I've taken and woken up, empty-hearted and empty-memory-carded, to discover they were just that. A dream. There are many less photos I just didn't take. I try to be prepared always. Moments pass in the blink of an eye, and are changed forever.
Sometimes that happens with people too.
My story starts somewhere in mid-childhood. We used to go to Myrtle Beach every summer around July 4th. All seven of us would pile in the GMC Truck and we would drive from nightfall until dawn. Everyone would sleep all night or at least most of the night, except for my dad (driver) and me. I was way too wired and I kept my eyes open so I wouldn't miss a single state border crossing. Then we would get McDonald's breakfast somewhere in the Carolinas the next morning. It was the ONLY time I've ever had McDonald's breakfast! Pancakes. We would stay in a condo for one or two weeks. It was bliss.
We used to go down with other families, or meet them there. Somewhere along our travel, we met a married couple we used to hang out with a lot. They had children, I believe, but they were nearly grown by then and didn't come. I used to stare at this couple because they had been married for decades but were totally lost in their own world in public. We would be at a restaurant and they would be cuddling and nuzzling and be enamored with each other, but in a totally classy way. I watched them closely, mostly to say to myself, "Man, I want that one day." I was only nine or ten. I never forgot.
You see, the husband was a race car driver and I suppose he was famous in the race car circuit. I had his trading card. I thought it was SO COOL that we were friends with a "celebrity." This was around the time I first started getting into photography and I thought, "Oh man, this is so cool. I'm gonna take a picture of him!!!" And even back then, I'd ask first. He smiled so broadly and said, "Sure!" But then he pulled me into the picture with him and gave the camera to my dad.
It was seriously the coolest thing ever to a kid to be photographed with this man. I idolized him.
He died not long after that. I just Googled him and just as I thought, it was only a few weeks after the photo was taken. It wasn't the race car. It was a private plane crash. We went to the funeral and the pain still remains locked in my memories. Several weeks after he passed, I had my summer photos developed and discovered the crystal clear treasure - the picture of the two of us. I will always be grateful I had that photo taken before I even knew how important it would be to me.
Now I always take those simple portraits, of the people I love. Sometimes it takes me years to muster up the nerve to ask them. I don't know why. If I love you, your time may come. Maybe I'm just too shy. I'm practicing, though. On these two:
..can't you see the love?