I'll go ahead and give you a warning: this blog post is about things that no-one seems to talk about...shedding some light on addiction and death. They are real, and at least one out of the two will happen to each of us in our short trips around the sun...
I heard a song a few weeks back. It made me tear up because I know the pain of losing a loved one all too well. As many of you know, my dad passed away pretty suddenly a little over 6 years ago. Before that, I had been to funerals, sure. I had witnessed death. I had watched my husband (boyfriend at the time) lose his mom. All of that was terrible, but it didn't hit me as hard until I was the one losing a parent.
Back to the music... Songwriter, Coby Langham, was playing a set at Jarfly Brewing Company in Somerset with my husband (in case you're new here, he is a songwriter as well) when I heard the song this whole thing is about. This song not only spoke to me, it shouted to me at the top of its lungs! The lyrics I typed out in a note on my phone (so I would never forget) read, “Snapshot Of Heaven In A 5x7.” (Coby told me the actual title is just "5x7"- for clarification purposes.) Before he started playing, he said this song was about his wife that passed away. If you've read this far, you're clearly invested in the story- it will help you understand if you just go listen to it yourself. -"5x7" by Coby Langham-
We've talked since that night, and I asked him if it would be alright for me to write about that experience, his story, and why it matters so much to me personally. Since you're still reading, you know the answer...
Coby said, "Ashley was a special woman. Strong willed and a big heart. She took to motherhood with a grace and ease that I think of often. We were teenage sweethearts. I couldn’t even drive when we started liking each other. We had years and years of good times and had three children together. She was the best momma and wife and friend you could ever imagine. But things change sometimes. I suppose that’s the nature of life. She developed some problems with drug abuse. It was like this slow creeping thing that eventually took her over. She fought it as hard as a person can as far as I’m concerned. For years and years she fought it. The first time I came home after the funeral I had all these pictures everywhere. We’d been looking through them. I think it was also the first time I’d been alone since she passed. I wrote that song then. It was a way of remembering the good times and who she really was inside. I guess I just want people to know it’s ok to talk about it. We need to talk about it. If you know someone that needs help then encourage them to seek treatment. Give them a ride and a hug."
You wanna know why those specific lyrics stuck out so much?! What I do, photography, is sometimes all people have left! This song confirmed just how absolutely important my job is...how important photographs are! I love what I do, y’all know that! I know it’s important for that very reason! Coby's story, my story, my husband's story...so many others' stories...we've all lost someone very important to us. What do you have left when your loved ones are gone? Your own memories and the photographs. Those prints, canvases, albums, whatever images are hanging on your walls.
This brings me to my next point...PRINT. YOUR. PHOTOS. Yes? Okay, glad we agree on that one. I’ll tell you a terrible personal story about that. My incredibly kind friend from art school, Emily, photographed my wedding. March 1, 2013. It was a rainy/snowy super cold day out of nowhere. That’s KY for you. Anyway, she delivered my images to me via digital download. I put so many (maybe all?!) of them on Facebook, I was so excited! My mom made us a Shutterfly album, but I never professionally printed even one of them. I was young and dumb. Forgive me! Fast forward a few years...that old college laptop sighed it’s last breath and just like that, my fully documented wedding was just gone. I didn’t back up images on multiple external hard drives, in the cloud, & online back then. I have what’s left on facebook and that. is. IT! Facebook quality photos are not quite up to par as far as printing goes, so I’m left with printing low quality, poor resolution images or just have nothing at all.
Take advantage of printing right after your sessions, y’all! If you let a flash drive or cd sit in a drawer, or just leave downloaded files on your computer thinking they’ll be there forever, you’re mistaken. And when the photos are all that’s left, you’ll cherish those prints more than any other possession, I promise.
Now let’s bring your spirits back up...it’s not too late for you. For all future sessions, print those bad boys. Print them with a pro. (Even if it’s not me, but of course I hope it is!) Ask questions, make sure your photographer uses a pro lab. Are your images archival quality? Photographs from my lab will last long after you’re gone. (To the tune of 200 years or more when cared for properly.) So print those photos, cover your walls in the love and life you share with your family! Enjoy looking at them everyday! Show your children. It can even help boost their sense of belonging and self esteem -have you checked out this article from Design Aglow?!
Y’all know I’m a believer...even if you’re not, you can treasure photos just the same. I hope you are though. I want you to have the hope of heaven. (Shoot me a message if you ever want to chat about that!). We all hope and pray our families live as long as possible, but we’re merely mortal. Take advantage of the time you have and love each other well.
(SO MUCH) love & stuff,