A letter on my door step. portraits are more than paper.

There will be no portrait photos in this post.  This letter wasn’t mailed – it was at my doorstep when I got home a couple months ago.  I read it, I cried, and read it again – probably a hundred times by now.  It wasn’t easy to read – and honestly, as much as it validates what I do for a living – I wasn’t sure I was going to share it either.  If you choose to read through the letter, you will know why I’ve finally chosen to share it.

July 2nd, 2011

Jeanine – 

Today I am writing for a couple of reasons.  I have some quiet time at the moment and need to get a couple of things off my mind.  I will leave this for my husband to deliver to you when he is ready.

You photographed my wedding, you photographed my first pregnancy and my first baby.  I contacted you awhile back to photograph my 2nd child and family.  After getting prices and realizing I would want all of the pictures as we love your work – I decided against spending $500+ – which is what I normally spend for portraits and prints with you..  Please know it is not because I don’t value your amazing eye, or how much we love the experience.

That week that I decided to NOT do a session with you, this is how I spent some money.

On Sunday I called and cancelled our session.  Monday I went out and got my hair cut ($39+tip), and colored ($65), Thursday I had my nails done ($24), my family went out to dinner at a somewhat expensive restaurant for no particular reason costing us $79 + tip.  This was just 4 days since canceling our session, already totaling over $200 for un necessary things.  My nails only lasted about 2 weeks, my hair is gone, and seven weeks passed when I got the phone call from our doctor.  It was not something I expected and the cancer has spread very quickly.  I will be leaving my husband, my 6 year old girl and my now 2 year old – not by choice.  It is very hard for me to talk about it which is why I need to write you.

I watch your Facebook page and your posts about the value of a photo and if I could give back all of those things that I purchased this few weeks after I cancelled my session with you, knowing what I know now, and have that session, well… I would do it in a heartbeat. 

Now my time is done and there are no more chances for me.  The next time someone cancels a session – my wish is that you forward this letter to them.  Time is fragile, it is gone before you know you had it.  If you charged $200 for one print it wouldn’t be enough for what it is actually worth.  I cringe to think that my priorities were a manicure over a memory to pass onto my babies and husband.

My love and thanks for what you have given us from past photos.  I am so sorry that I did not see it as more than paper until now.

Karen L.

931 thoughts on “A letter on my door step. portraits are more than paper.

    • Consider it shared Jeanine. Beautiful letter, may you and this family be blessed for knowing each other and comforted for your loss.

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    • Maybe you can give her a complimentary photo and one you can use for yourself to go along with this letter for the future of both of ya! Just a thought! We all like to give to ppl in need and obviously this woman feels she needs you to help her family remember her! Which is also a great tribute to the work that you do!

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    • As beautiful as the letter was; I dont feel it was as much about the photos as other issues. Anyone can take a picture with a camera or his/her phone and they would still mean just as much as a $500.00 photo session. In my opinion, I’d rather take my own pics and then spend the 500 dollars spending it on or with my family.

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    • Jeanine,
      One of my favorite quotes is, “I try to find the good in everything, …most of us find what we search for!” I agree that the way you read it (or take in anything in life), is what makes it Good or Bad! I would hope that people can see that you wouldn’t be stupid enough to post this as a “marketing strategy”. I mean cmon! Wouldn’t it be OBVIOUS if that’s what you were doing. I’ve read through the comments and your replies to the negative ones, and I respect how tactful you are. You have responded to them with dignity, not trying to justify something you didn’t do, but simply trying to make them see what the real message is, (which isn’t even your job), but you have taken the time to do it! I think this lady would be very appreciative that you have shared her story. I know I would be. It absolutely doesn’t matter how much the pictures are or what they are taken with! I do find however, that photographs now tend to catch the story of the family now. When my family had pictures done last month, you could tell me and my husband are still in love after 10 years together and two little boys. I see so much more in those pictures than a simple piece of paper. Thank you so much for sharing and for replying so genuinely to all the negative posts! I’m not so sure I could do the same!

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    • Jeanine,
      I read this letter and as with everybody it touched me in many ways especially how short life is, I’ve been there myself! However I feel Karen was being a little too hard on herself for the simple reason’s on yes I understand and get the 39.00/65.00/24.00/79.00=$200, but what Karen may not have realized yes she spent that money in other things she now feels would of been better of spent with the photo session, however Karen spent the money on things that made her feel good about herself and well the $79.00 family dinner was well worth the money due to the fact it was spent with/on FAMILY and you can’t put a price tag on that one! As a military wife and several close call’s ourselves I do feel Karen still made the right choice, cuz NO ONE is promised tomorrow we can only be thankful for TODAY!

      Sincerely,

      Kimberly Youngblood

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  1. Amazing… I am completely speechless. I am glad you were able to take the other pictures earlier in their lives or they would have none. Just wow… thanks for sharing such a tough and touching letter.

    Keep doing what you do.

    I hope you provide many families in the future with many keepsakes that they will, too, treasure. Have a great 2012.

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  2. this had me in tears, this is why I want to work with those companies that work with those who are going through battles like this to photograph them on my time fo rnothing less than a thank you

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  3. I am so glad that you shared this letter with everyone. I am not a professional photographer but my 13 yo daughter is hoping to be one someday and I, of course, think all of her photos are priceless. I had to read this letter to her because we talk about how it is just as important it is to take pictures of everyday events as special events. You never know when that picture may be the only thing left as a memory for someone, which will definitely be more valuable than some of the things that we choose to spend our money on.

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    • Missing somebody ?………………..Go !!
      Wanna meet up ?…………………..Invite
      Wanna be understood ?……………Explain
      have question ?…………………….Ask
      Don’t like something ?……………..Say it
      … Like something ?…………………..State it
      Want something ?………………….Ask for it
      Love someone ?……………………tell it

      Nobody will know what’s going in your mind…
      It’s better to express rather than to expect…
      You already have the NO. Take the risk of getting the YES…
      We just have one life
      Keep it simple and have a nice day.

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    • Please do share – unfortunately, this happens way too often – and I’ve seen it too many times over the years. This letter was so direct and heartfelt, I’m glad that sharing is reaching out to so many people.

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  4. The letter made my heart ache. Hits home for me, because I lost my Mother to cancer 3 yrs ago and all I have are the memorys and handful of pictures that I cherish so dear. Now here it is 3 yrs later and my Father is now battling cancer. My friends, cherish everyday and moment you are blessed to have with your loved ones.

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  5. I am very sad to read this… Sadly even more, because when I want to buy something for photo shoot, my family, some friends and boyfriend looks at me like I am stupid for spending money on “non-sense”. But what I can’t get through to them, is pictures aren’t just a print, they’re memories of what we cannot have repeatedly. I am still “new” to the photography world and very far from imperfection but when I look at my pictures of my loved ones and others, I know a moment like it could possible never happen again.

    My first child just turned 8 months old and I’ve been taking pictures of her every 20th day of the month, different poses, different props… I even find myself looking at them often and realize she’s growing up too fast and them “prints” everyone calls them, are what I cherish and means more to me than money, to me it’s not about the money, because no matter what WE all spend money on worthless things but the “worthless” thing that I spend mine on means something to me.

    I wanted to see if I could share this on my website soon as I get it up and running?

    Thank you,
    Lacey

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    • Lacey, I too, am new to photography… well, actually I’m jvery, very new (well just a student), but I already feel the same… “pictures aren’t just a print, they’re memories of what we can’t have repeatedly’. I’m also, a mum of 2 little boys & I love that you photograph your little girl on the same day each month. I think I have just found my new years resolution… to do the same!!! Thankyou.

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  6. Wow! Such a touching letter. It is hard for me to read this as my mom is fighting cancer for the third time. I know memories are great to have, but photos are so important too. I need to make sure my family is taking more of them before it’s too late.

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  7. I am saddened by this. Because it is so true and too many people share her sentiments. Why is it we as humans never appreciate what we have until it’s gone? What a wonderful tribute to your work. And to her for realizing its worth. God bless you. I would also love to share this. Thank you for sharing with us.

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    • Would love the re-post. I agree – it takes many a lifetime to realize what is truly important. I am so thankful for any memories that I have to look back at in photographs – it is healing for me.

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  8. This is very beautiful and I would like to share it on my page as well.

    I am a photographer getting started a year ago “professionally” and my father recently passed away this past year unexpectedly….because of my life long love with a camera, we were able to put together an hour long DVD FULL of photographs and memories…there is healing in pictures.

    I believe in the value of taking pictures so much that I took family pictures for free at our reunion in November (my dad has 10 siblings)….so others could share memories with their own families.

    This family will also have those valuable and cherished memories.

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  9. In 1997, our family lost four of our young adults in a car accident. In reading this letter, I so understand that you can never have enough photographs of a person once they are gone and you certainly cannot have too many. Our family is much better about letting others take our pictures these days whereas before, most of us would turn away from the camera with “I take terrible pictures”. Any picture is better than no picture at all. I hope everyone will keep that it mind when they turn away from someone trying to photo them.

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  10. Wow… Amazing story!
    My family was lucky enough to get some family photos done while my father’s cancer was in remission and he looked really good. We all knew how important they were, and how lucky we were to be able to do them before his cancer came back.
    This stuff matters.
    Not sure how to tell clients why we think it’s so important,and tell them stories like this, but still.
    The other point of it I suppose is the reminder of the fact that we’re doing something for those families we serve. It may be their last photo together for a whole range of reasons. It’s up to us to knock it out of the park every time.

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  11. WOW ! What a touching story !! Family is everything and take it from someone who knows all to well. I hope you found in it your heart to somehow work her family in and give her a discount if she could not afford it so that her family had that one last memory. May GOD bless her family.

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  12. This makes me feel so sad. I’m one of those that believes a photograph is more than just a moment, it’s a memory that tells a story. I pray that the letter-writer is/has found peace and is/was able to enjoy the last times she’ll have with her family.

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  13. thank you so much for sharing your story! the value of a photograph is priceless. i had a client who came to me with her family for their very first ever professional family portrait (six children, oldest child was 17)…six months later she was gone unexpectedly…the family still thanks me everytime I see them!!

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  14. That is so sad & very true. Thankyou for sharing. I do photography aswell & lost my father 5 weeks ago. My Dad hated photos but I used to pester him with my camera sometimes. I would call him & he’d look over & I’d quickly snap up a photo. Or when we would take my children down the duckpond together I would take pics from behind while he was holding their hands. I am so thankful now that I did because otherwise I would have nothing. My younger chidren range from 2-5 & my littlest may not even remember him so I am glad that I have these photos for them to see so they know how much he loved them. They aren’t just photos after all they are precious memories xx

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  15. Pingback: The Value of a Portrait

  16. This is so very true, I hope she has found peace and her family still has all the other valuable memories that you gave them. I am a photographer as well, not professionally yet but do many weddings for friends and family. I shot a wedding two months ago, two days before Halloween, the couple and my self dreaded the weather for weeks, coming up to the wedding, when the day came it was beautiful and I got the best shots I have ever taken. The groom was a fire man, 4 days ago he was killed in the line of duty. It broke my heart to lose a friend, a good man, a new husband, but the fact that I was able to give his wife those photos..it gives me a some happiness in this time knowing she will always have them.

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    • Did I just see their story on a segment of the hockey game the other night? There was a picture of them outside near a lake maybe. I thought it was so sad. It said he was a volunteer fireman and they had only been married 2 months. He was 27 or so if I remember correctly, a handsome man.

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  17. Thank you so much for sharing this. I absolutely tell clients this all the time, but it’s always a hypothetical “what if….”

    But now it’s not just talk, this is a person who feels like they lost those memories. I hope that she has been able to get some of those last photos with her family before her time here is gone.

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  18. This is BEYOND amazing. Thank you so much for sharing it. I have been trying to pull my family together for a portrait, and had gotten frustrated and given up. We were trying to get it done b/c my grandparents are getting old. Just goes to show, it may not be them. This has also made me feel really great about being a photographer. I have so many moments of doubt in my work, for a variety of reasons. It’s not technically correct, the exposure is off, whatever. Not that I want that to be the case, but it makes me feel better about those moments. Most of the time it’s stuff my clients would never notice, but I do. This was amazing. Thank you.

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  19. This brought me to tears. My husband lost an aunt nearly a year ago, (a much older sister of his father’s) and she was more of a grandmother than an aunt to him. And to me, in the few short years I knew her I had become close to her and thought of her as a grandmother as well. We named our first daughter after her, who turned 1 a couple weeks before she passed. When we had last gone to visit her a few months before she passed I had brought my camera to take pictures of her with our daughter but I was too shy to bring the camera out (I hate being watched while I take pictures). And I thought to myself, “we’ll have another chance to get photos of them together”. We never did. And I regret it everyday. We don’t have a single photo of the two together. It hurts.

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    • I’m so sorry to hear of missed chances. I hope that anyone that reads this never feels shy again to take some images of their loved ones – professional or not – the most important thing is to have them! My greatest memories stay fresh in my mind and bring smiles to my face because I can see them over and over again in photographs like they happened yesterday. No regrets -just moving forward knowing their importance to you and so many others you love.

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  20. THIS LETTER TOUCH MY HEART SO DEEPLY,AND PICTURES AND MAKING MEMORIES WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS IS THE BEST CURE! Love and prayers for everyone who wrote this letter and was touch by it as well.

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  21. Thank you for sharing, it’s so true. I had photographed participants of a fundraiser for free, there was a young couple there who was fairly newly engaged. They were so sweet & talked about using the photos I had taken of them as their wedding save-the-date/engagement announcement. Very sadly, two weeks later he passed away from pneumonia & those were the last photos they had together, the only professional portraits of them while they were engaged. They meant a great deal to his fiance and family.

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  22. Jeanine, amazing post. Thanks for sharing with us. Your post is going viral through all the FB photography forums — It really makes you think. I loved it so much, I shared it on our own FB photography page.

    We had family photos done just before my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. He went downhill very quickly and we lost him 8 weeks later.

    Prayers for your customer and this family.

    Beverly and Chuck Williams
    Atlanta, GA

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    • I’m so sorry for your loss Beverly. I honestly am in shock at how many people this is touching… I can’t believe I was so hesitant to share – and am so happy that it may serve as an eye-opener to so many people.

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  23. This is so sad. I’m glad you shared it. I have very few pics of my grandfather & myself & found one the other day of him & me. I so cherish the pic of the 2 of us. It’s hair a snapshot Ogham teaching me to whittle but it’s those unposed shots that can bring back so many memories.

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  24. This letter is not only a testonomy to your work, but to your pictures in general. I remember by daughter telling me, as she traveled through the mid east, “I don’t need a camera I have the memories in my head and if need be my friends took pictures.” It upset me so much, especially that I am a photographer. And I just asked her to come home, knowing it’s not easy for her being 3.5 hours away and in college, but maybe in the spring time so we can get a family picture and she told me she doesn’t see how it’s going to work. She has no time. I will be sending her this link as well as posting it on my https://www.facebook.com/PhotographybyBMWEnterprises along with my personal account. I thank you so much for sharing. Peace …

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  25. My husband is always complaining that I spend money that we don’t have on pictures of my kids. I could never really put into word why I had such a deep desire to do so. Thank you for giving me the words….

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    • Show him the letter. Some just dont see the value of a photo until its all they have to hold. I’m sure in time he will be glad you spent the time and the money. Cheers

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  26. Oh God bless them. My heart aches. Can’t imagine writing such a letter, she must really be an amazing woman to think of YOU in her hours of darkness, to let you know YOU matter. Wow. I would love to share this as well, may I? I try to get across that my photos are really of emotions and the bond we have with our loved ones and a “snapshot” of the sunshine in our lives.
    Thank you so much for sharing ♥
    And I am sending prayers to her and her family.

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  27. Thanks for sharing – We had a life changing event in our family when my dad suffered a brain aneurysm – he was very lucky and survived but it was one of the major reasons I chose to go back to school and turn my passion for photography into my profession! You never know what tomorrow holds so those photos are the only way to preserve it!

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  28. Thanks for sharing. I am really kicking myself as just this past year my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Everything has had the best possible outcome so far. At Christmas we were all so busy that we didn’t take the family picture with her, us girls and the grandbabies. I really wish we would have taken the 15min to get at least one picture now. I am going to save this post as reminder that to take the time to capture that memory even if we are “too busy” or want to wait until we are at our “goal weight” or whatever.

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  29. Thank you so much for sharing this. I too, am a professional photographer, and not only did this letter bring me to tears, but so have many of the comments. It is so true how invaluable pictures are in capturing memories, moments, and people we cannot see or talk to anymore. One of the comments brought me back to a photo I snapped Thanksgiving 2010. My stepfather was hosting, happy and enjoying the evening with us. I took family pics for everyone, he carved and served the turkey. A few minutes after dinner he passed away from a heart attack before our very eyes. The picture my mom carries in a locket with her daily is the one I took of the two of them so in love, just two hours prior. It is amazing what a great photographer and a camera can preserve. Please keep passing this on, it is beyond worth every word written. Thank you for sharing.

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  30. Thank you for sharing this, I get photos of my daughter done very often and family photos done 2 times each year, People laugh and think I’m crazy because I’m always doing photos but they have no idea why I do it so often, The truth is I had a daughter that passed away from SIDS at 2mo’s and I had no decent photos, I had a few snap shots but that was all less then 20photos of my baby who I would never hold, never kiss again, I had days were I felt like I was forgetting what she looked like and the snap shots did not show the baby she really was, we had no family photos done, So now when you think about spending that few hundred dollars its more then worth it. Thank you for posting the note. I sure hope this makes it around as its something to really think about.

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    • Crista – My reasoning for photos is the same. My daughter passed away at 8 weeks, 3 days – and I was so thankful that I did get photos of her and her brother at 5 weeks. People laughed at me, but I would never change it.

      Now I get prof photos done every 18 months of the kids (and me!) and I try hard to snap as many as I can on my dodgy point and shoot – to remember those moments.

      I treasure the photos of my deceased daughter so much, and the company that took the photos gave me them, and the negatives for free – which was amazing.

      I feel your pain, and applaude you for the way you have come back to take as many photos of your daugher as you can xxx

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    • My husband is part of a national organization called “Now I Lay Me down to Sleep”. Its not an easy task but given freely by professional photographers and means so much to the grieving parents..helping them with the healing process.

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  31. Thank you for deciding to share. A friend and loyal customer of mine posted this on my Facebook Timeline just a moment ago…she knew how much I would appreciate it.

    In 2011 I had two high school boys pass within 3 months of each other…my photos were the last professional photos taken of them. Their families were grateful that they FINALLY decided to nail down a time and place for their photo shoot just in time to capture their most recent memories of their precious boys.

    My heart wrenches for the regret and guilt of Karen, but it sounds like you helped document her family’s life wonderfully.~The sadness and happiness of a photographer :*(

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  32. I never really thought about this but this makes me want to share, i hope you don’t mind. On the First day of High School, (way back in 1985) my aunt and my cousin were involved in a car accident. This was also my cousin chrissy’s very first day of kindergarten. he first day of kinergarten was spent taking photos (to be developed later for kindergarten graduation), making name tags,etc… After school on the way home my aunt had a horrific car wreck that unfortunatly my 5 year old cousin did not survive. At the end of the school year when they develpoed the film from the first day, my cousin’s picture was there. The teacher decided that she was gonna let Chrissy ‘graduate’ with the rest of the kids and taped her picture to a chair and even called her name when it came time. At the time I thought it was very rude and disrespectful but now that I think about it, I think it was a very kind gesture of a woman honoring a child who only went to school one day in her whole short life. I have the picture of my cousin in her cap and gown and she looks so happy.
    Thank you so much for sharing this story and reminding me of something I should not have forgot!

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    • To Stacey,
      I am in tears reading your comment. It broke my heart. I have a son in kindergarten and his teacher has taken a few very sweet pictures of him (and the rest of his class) already this year! To know this little one only had 1 day breaks my heart! I think it’s amazing her teacher just happened to take a picture of her that first day. No matter how much time goes by there’s always that empty space where this person should be. That God for pictures. Thank you for sharing this story. God Bless.

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  33. Thank you for sharing this. It’s so touching and heartbreaking. My jaw dropped and I’m teary reading her letter. I would have called and done the session free of charge so their family would have recent photos to cherish. She is so right and it’s so true, time is too short. My prayers go out to her and her family. What a wonderful woman to leave you with something so special. She must have been a very special client. Thank you again for posting this. It’s a huge reminder for me to get out from behind the camera and get it front of it more often!!!

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  34. What a truly amazing woman to write this. Here at the end of all things she is thinking only of what she leaves behind. That is why we do what we do, to leave something behind. How courageous and oh-so-beautifully written. Tears of sadness for this family’s loss, and thank you for taking the time to type it out, and having the courage to post it.

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  35. I lost my lil brother a year ago this past new years day and the pictures and memories are all I have left next to his young daughter. Those same pictures and memories are also the only thing his young daughter will have as well and this post shows so much how important random or professional pictures are. This truly touched my heart as I kno how her family is going to feel! My brothers death was very sudden and unexpected and I wish jus the same as her that I also had many more pictures of him! Thank you for sharing this! Feel free to share!

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  36. This is so true. In 1994 we had a family pic done. Thew next year I lost my younger brother. You have no clue how much that family pic is worth to me and my family. The only thing I can say its take pics lots of them. You always can hold on to memories but photo are the things that make you remember those memories and the voices of the lived ones.

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  37. You know that’s one of the very reasons I’M SO INSPIRED to do photography….my Mom passed away 2 years ago…and 2 months before she passed I started to take pictures with our family (for some reason) Anyways…4 months after she passed, I decided to get my first camera…and now I feel more compelled than ever to take pictures at every SPECIAL event, because you NEVER know when someone will pass. :/ I wish I could have gone back in time to take EVEN MORE pictures with my Mom, and family together. You don’t even know. :/ But it is what inspires me to today….you can always go and look back at an image….it’s special….and for the rest of my life I’ll always have those special memories of my Mother on her last Birthday. Man, what a crazy story…I would like to share this too! It’s truly inspiring, and even though it’s sad…you can take the good out of her situation! WOW..

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  38. I’m crying. Our family suffered the lose of all our belongings including photos u had just taken of our 3rd child to a fire in August. We’ve always been told possessions can be replaced not lives so be thankful your all still here, but asked what do miss the most? We always tell people ‘the memories’ photos and school projects our children made which hung in our home with pride more valuable then any Mona Lisa!
    Karen’s letter is a perfect lesson to cherish not just milestones, but to celebrate life and cherish each day! You never know when tomorrow, the opportunity to capture a moment might be to late. Cherish each day as if tomorrow might not come.
    I would like people to know that Sunny backs all of her sessions up on removable hard drives. We lost the prints and the cd containing all of our newest babies photos in the fire, but after contacting sunny we found out and were mailed very promptly a replacement cd of our new born session. Sunny has also been a major contributor in her social media skills to assisting our family of 5 ‘getting back on our feet’ after such a disaster.
    She has a beautiful talent that she charges very minimal for so that everyone can have the opportunity to capture all moments that present themselves.
    Let Karens story be a wake up call to start grabbing life by the reigns and book your moment now. Sunny can even turn a photo of a screaming child into the most beautiful picture on your wall. Once you try her, she will become a part of your family for years to come being remembered every time u show off your photos.
    People will ask, and you will be proud to say…. Sunny S-h Photography !
    My prayers are with Karen’s family

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  39. Thanks for sharing this Jeanine,

    I’m a photographer too and can’t stress enough to people how precious a photo can be. Last time my kids saw their grandma alive (October 2010, we knew she had cancer but thought she had months) I just let them play with her. I didn’t want to intrude with my camera. ‘There’s always tomorrow’ I thought. I was so wrong. The next time they saw her was at her funeral. I will never forgive myself for missing capturing those last few moments they had with her, those memories are now lost forever (my son was 4, my daughter nearly 2, they’ve already forgotten).

    If anyone out there is thinking about getting portraits done, do it. Not one day, TO-day. Find a photographer who’s style you love and call them. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone.

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  40. stunned and silenced. what an incredible person to write such a letter, thank you for sharing it and letting others share.. i believe her words will resonate with so many.

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  41. Pingback: can somebody give me facts to write a letter about the person im in love with? | So Ask Me

  42. If a former client of mine wrote me something that hear-wrenching and powerful, I would probably set something up gratis.

    I’m sure you can find some way, at the very least as a ‘thank you’ for being repeat clients in the past.

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  43. Pingback: Just wanted to share this with you!!! | croG photography

  44. I wish to add my thanks to you for sharing. My heart goes out to this family, life can be so hard to bear sometimes.
    I found a link to your letter on a Face Book page, I too would like to share this touching letter. My friends, family and clients should read this, everyone should read this.
    It also reminds me that my kids at this point would have no pictures of me…I make pictures..I’m not usually in them. Might be the right time to start stepping out from behind the camera.

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  45. Pingback: What Makes Me Cry. | Edina Photographer | » Minneapolis Photographer – Olive Avenue Photography

  46. Wow! I would like someone to appreciate my inclination towards photography … nobody look at my pics as beautiful moments frozen in time, most of those who are around me just see them as a “simple picture” without thinking this picture holds a moment in life that will never happen again. thanks for sharing.

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  47. Thank you for sharing. Her story was heartbreaking and yet had a great message on how much one photo means. Its priceless to capture a moment in time. I hope more people read this and understand the meaning.

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  48. Thank you so much for sharing this.
    My mother’s cancer has continued to spread and treatments are not as effective as the doctor had expected.
    I am a photographer as well and I have been begging my mom to let me take pictures of her with my daughters, and of her and my dad, before there is no time left.
    Family is so precious and time passes more quickly than we want it to. I hope it continues to touch others and encourages families to record these memories because we never know when our life takes a turn onto another path.

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  49. Pingback: I Am Moved. | Edina Photographer | » Minneapolis Photographer – Olive Avenue Photography

  50. Wow, thank you for sharing this. This is a wonderful and thoughtful gift she gave to you and I appreciate you “giving” it to us. I will learn from her words and cherish what I do, what I give and what I have more. I’m sorry for her families loss and for your loss as well. I too need to make sure I’m part of my families memories on the other side of the camera as well.

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  51. Pingback: Portraits are more than paper | Angela Lang Bay Area Family Photographer » angelalang.com

  52. In 2008 I had the opportunity to photograph “Jenny” as her last request before transitioning with stage four cancer. Jenny had many pictures taken of herself, her husband and her two children but none of them together. Her last wish–family portraits. Due to her weak state the entire family portrait session was completed in twenty minutes; a week later Jenny transitioned. This is true, oh so true.

    NJ Stevenson/Ebby’s Touch

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  53. Pingback: Is it worth it? | Emily Anderson Photography

  54. Pingback: Why I Do This » Abe Zabih, Photographer

  55. Pingback: A Must Read!!! « MJBPhotos

  56. Wow – I am pleased that you have posted this, as much as you questioned yourself whether to or not. People really need to realise that yes, it can be expensive to get some good photos taken, but you will regret not having it done! I lost my Nana almost a year ago now to cancer and I was lucky enough to get a couple of nice photos with her on our last Christmas Day. We definitely did not take enough photos over the years and I struggled to find enough of a collection to remember her by. Another thing that is just as important as getting these photos done is to store them in a way that they are easily found – so many people these days use digital and never print them, but no matter how many ways you back them up there is always a chance that technology will fail you! Any photos that are ones I would be completely torn to loose I print off and put them in an album – that way even if all the forms of backup I use fail I still have the hard prints. Of course this doesn’t make it fail proof either, but it was just another step I felt I could take!

    I have a business page on facebook where I sell jewellery, but I will still share this to help my likers to think about things a little!

    Thanks for sharing :-)

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  57. Very touching Varun…gald you shared it… Really sorry about your client. I hope she gets better..

    In one of the wedding I shot the bride’s family portraits with the newly weds they placed the picture of a grandfather who passed away a couple of months before. Photos play such an important role and very few people understand them.

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  58. i have a similar story…sort of. 14 years ago, my brother in law passed away. They would get family potraits taken every 5 years….it was only the 4th year when he died. They now do not have many pictures of him as a teenager/man. I think thats very sad. Take photos every day, not just on special dates!

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  59. This is so true…just this past May I just happened to take my camera with me to my fiance’s mom’s while we were there (for some reason I don’t take it when I am not going to a session much)…but while there we used the remote & got picks of the three of us & I also took some of he & his mom….Sadly, we lost her unexpectedly only months later & had I not taken my camera we would not have those last good pictures which turned out to mean SOOOO much now. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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  60. Pingback: Why so much?! | Brandy Odle Photography

  61. wow… this letter pretty much leaves me speechless!!!… so very sad and heart breaking <3 … praying for that lady and her family… cancer is a very horrible disease and needs to have a cure found for it!!

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  62. My mom has been sick this past year and there was this “100 Portrait” event going on in Anchorage, Alaska, with Ak Rhythm Magazine. We are suppose to write one word that describes our life in Alaska or what word relates to it, our feelings, etc…

    It’s black and white to symbolize emotions more. I went ahead and got a portrait with my mother for it. It’s all contributing work but my word for us was Hope. Because even though she’s going through this daily and I’m there trying my best to support her in my busy life, I am always holding onto hope, hope that can get through it, that I can rise above this depression that is enclosing around us… But as much as I don’t want to admit it, I don’t have any real portraits with her and if everything was to ever happen to her, that is the one image I will keep close to my heart because she’s my everything.

    But if you want a good image, it is going to cost but behind it, you will remember all the good memories you have or had with that person.

    I’m really sorry to hear about this but we all really should take from this the importance of anything that can make a memory or leave behind a memory, rather than materialistic items.

    Like

    • Christina,

      I actually work for Jeanine. I’ve been reading through many comments today but I found I stopped and ready ours three times.

      I to have held on to HOPE many times.

      I HOPE you and your mother find many memorable moments together in the years to come and ways to always have one another close by.

      Sincerely,
      Jenny B

      Like

  63. My Father in Law is a Pastor. When I asked him to Baptize me he said “Only if we do it right now” as he reached for his car keys. It was for the very same reason. He had a man of 22 years of age Who asked to be saved. But the young man was at work and planned to meet him the next morning. That night, he was hit head on by a drunk driver and died instantly, without being saved. My father in law has never recovered from that. Peace be with you.

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  64. WOW… I am blown away at her strength as a woman as a mother to sit and write a letter like that to you when she was/is faced with such a devastating reality. God Bless her and may her loved ones find peace in knowing how truly amazing this woman is!!!

    Photos speak a million words some we never hear,
    A smiling face, a newborn baby..all that we hold dear.
    Look beyond the paper the photo may be on,
    For whats looking back with loving eyes will one day be long gone.
    So next time the shutter bug yells “just one more pic please”
    Raise your glasses, smiles on and dont forget say cheese!!

    Wendy

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    • Im hoping you managed to offer her the shoot she cancelled for free. x As you imply, you cant put a price on photographs.

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  65. Pingback: Photos are more than paper | Frédéric CHELMAS – Photographie

  66. Thank you for sharing this letter with us all, This is so heartbreaking and I hope that we can all take a moment to appreciate those around us, so that whenever we look back it is with a smile of happy remembering.

    A few months ago an old friend of mine who I grew up with and hadn’t seen in a while asked me to do a photo shoot for her and her partner – she had recently been diagnosed with cancer and was about to start Chemo. I initially said I could do it in a week or so as I was fully booked ( I cringe as I write that!) but my dear friend insisted I do it sooner – so 2 days later we caught up for a lovely session. Her beauty and energy were over-flowing, it was a joy to photograph her. There was little sign of the disease that was ravaging her and it was hard to think or believe it existed. I was just happy to see her again after so long.

    I spoke to her on the Friday to say her photos were ready and we made arrangements to deliver them over the weekend. Sadly, heartbreakingly, she never saw them as she left us all so quickly and unexpectedly 2 days later – the same day that I had originally said I could do the photos. She was just 36.

    Those photos were her lasting gift to all of us – her photos are so so so precious and I am forever grateful my friend insisted we do the shoot as soon as possible. What a terrible regret to bear if we had delayed.

    Being a photographer is more than clicking a shutter, it is a way in which to freeze time, capture the sound of laughter and the look of love, it is a way to preserve youth and beauty and vitality forever. This is why I do what I do and feel incredibly blessed.

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  67. I was informed by a friend of mine about this post. I am working as a freelance journalist for articles and pictures and go on fighting for normal, reliable, fair paying in Germany. I belive, our problems of paying are at least one problem of our society: What kind of work is really good? What is important? What do we like to pay for? Much people don’t know, that creative work is a very hard, everytime continuing job. – Best wishes to Karen! Regards, fbtde

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  68. Oh My Goodness! This is so true! But what a tragically sad story! I wish she had of had her photos taken with you!! And to write this letter to you about the value of your work is truly humbling and priceless!

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  69. When I worked at a studio in California we photographed a family (mom & dad with their 2 adult children, older teenage child, 1 of the adult children’s spouse and first grandchild) just before Christmas, they were our last sale before we closed for the holidays. They didn’t buy much because of how “expensive” the prints were. A few days after the new year one of the family members came to in to see about purchasing everything from the session. Turns out the grandmother died in a car accident just hours after they were in ordering their prints. Really, there is no value in the paper, but it’s not about the paper…it’s about what’s on the paper! I’m sorry for this mom and I hope she can be healed. Thanks for sharing….I can completely understand why you hesitated to share, but I’m so glad you did!

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  70. This is truly touching…it went directly to my heart…I pray she got over the part of blaming herself…although the pictures could’ve been a memory…the time she spent with her family will be too…because if she hadnt spent that time with them who’s to say she wouldve had another chance….

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  71. Very touching! I hope you dont mind I shared this. But to often I think that people take the time they have here for granted. And they only look at pictures as a print, why spend alot of money when I can go some where and get them done for $10, not realizing that, that $10 isn’t going to capture the true emotions and true self. Thank you so much for sharing this

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  72. Speechless.

    As a photographer doing portraits, this is difficult to read and something I completely understand. Thank you for sharing this to remind us that taking a photo worth a memory is just as important as the people in the photo. I hope you are able to spend some time with her and her family, camera or no camera. Sending blessings to you and the client.

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  73. This is so powerful. My mother was diagnosed with cancer last January 6 and we lost her on January 29. We were able to take pictures nearly everyday as friends and family came to visit, the most precious one of all was one of her & my dad looking into each others eyes. They had been together for 51+ years and could read each other’s minds.
    My mother treasured pictures. While living in a different state away from her for 30 years I kept her up-to-date with grandkid then great grandkid photos via email. She came to expect pictures weekly so she wouldn’t miss a thing.
    I also kept her photo frames filled with prints so she could show them off.
    At their 50th anniversary party, we did a photo type booth. We captured all their friends & family. Also, we had them pose with nearly everyone. Many of those photos were displayed at her memorial. I feel blessed to have taken those and several four generation pictures with her. I love & miss you Mom.

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  74. I am so touched by your letter for two reasons…First, I love to take pictures. I am the one in my family that is always asking them to say “cheese”! My son, who is now 21 has never liked the fact that I was always taking pictures of him at his games and birthday parties…most of the time he is making faces, but I hope that when he looks back at those photos, he will remember all the fun times he and his friends had growing up and grow an appreciation for them.

    As for the second reason, my family had photos taken last February. I haven’t bought any of them due to of course lack of money. This past September I lost my father after a triple bypass surgery. The friend who took our family photos brought over an enlarged portrait of my dad that captured his personality… and his eyes open! I am going to email my friend and order those photos now.

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    Ann

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  75. Definitely serves as a reminder that no matter what you do somethings are inevitable and some things are just out of your control. There are some things that I keep putting off which is the worse thing to do.

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  76. Pingback: Preserving memories: A letter on my door step. portraits are more than paper.

  77. Wow I couldn’t believe as I started reading what this was about, such a sad post about that woman and her family, that would be so hard to go through that, I feel the sadness! :(

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    • I love takin pictures, I had a photoshoot with me and my boys this summer, I cherish all the memories I have and make with my boys, and i also have a 3 baby on the way. I value and love my kids dearly, I’m a single mother which is sad but I’ve been.a strong woman, the father to the boys decided not to come home and be a part of his family over 8 months ago, he doesnt realize what he’s missing out on in his kids life! He doesn’t realize what he had and lost and that it was valuable, I wanted to be a family but I’m.tryin to get that with someone else! This is such a heartfelt and sad story, i cherish every memory with my boys and my ex don’t see that he’s missing out big time! Thanks for sharing this heartbreaking story! :(

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  78. We recently had the opportunity to have family photos taken at my children’s school for fundraising – my eldest did not under any circumstances at 8yrs want his photo taken so I said take what you can – both my children wore ‘their’ style clothing – one in board shorts and the obligatory matching T-Shirt, the other in his Fedora hat, shirt & vest top & long pants (very nice pumpkin patch set) – I have the most amazing photos and the collage includes a famiy group – with my hand on my 8yr olds shoulder and he was taking off just as the photo was taken so no facial shot – BUT that is him – no matter that every thinks I’m nuts using that pic it depicts HIM at this time.

    With both my parents having Passed on – I always value a photo and will put it before extras I might like because I learnt at 13 to treasure photos of family I would never see again – it’s a hard lesson to learn to put picture memories before a hairdo sometimes – and after reading this post – I know her family will have learned something very important – to take time to make memories including in print.

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  79. I found this story very sad but it represents the way most people are living in every industrilised country. I’m fighting every day to make a flashback to the most important : Human being and nature in respectful harmony.

    i wish you all a very nice year 2012 : health, love and hapiness; Marlène

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  80. Ok, I’m sure I’m not the only one greatly anticipating a follow up story. Did you ever contact them? Did you get to her before cancer took her life? What kind of cancer did she have? Is it possible she’s fighting still and you can grant her last wish?

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  81. Thanks for sharing. A good picture speaks and carries it to the past. In my room is a picture of 15 years ago, they were happy moments without forgetting. What would life without good photographers?

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  82. Very nice, though this is a sad letter, you have been blessed. God is speaking through this letter, letting you know your work is special.

    Thank you for passing on your blessings.

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  83. OMG thats such a touching and heartfelt letter thank you so much for sharing, family is important, while i was reading this i could just see tears may i share this on my page??

    Amanda

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  84. Pingback: Memories that last a lifetime. « Starry Eyes Photography

  85. Life is priceless. Everything else does have a price, including – yes – photos. I know this letter touches you as a photographer whose client values your service more than others. However, the money she spent on hair and dinner with the family is very, very valuable also. One cannot live all the time as if one is going to die of cancer tomorrow. Dinner with your family is a detail of which the life itself consists. Celebrating life comes in different forms, including eating out, cutting your hair and buying photographs. For some people, going on a last vacation with their family would be more important than spending $500 on their photos, no matter how good they may be. I honestly think that showing this (very touching) letter to prospective clients would almost amount to emotional blackmail. Anyway, just a few contrarian thoughts…

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    • I felt the “emotional blackmail” feeling first hand :-/ I’m sure it was a tough choice to post it or not but I hope that people don’t think they need $500 photos to have memories. I have professional photos taken of my family often b/c it is the only way I get in them but when I go through the past and look at my kids, I most often cherish the ones I took in our day to day life. Those are far more precious then anything else we’ve had done.

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    • I’m happy for you Megan – to me, personally the real point of her letter was how valuable a photograph is. I don’t think at any point she meant that anyone had to spend a fortune on anything. The simple fact that you value photography is enough.

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  86. Jeanine, thankyou so much for sharing this letter. I can’t begin to imagine how you felt after receiving it. I’m a photography student & mother of 2 gorgeous little boys.I have always known the importance of capturing life’s special moments & photographs are something that I have alway treasured. However, after having my boys & having not yet lost my pregnancy weight, I find that I would much prefer to be behind the camera than it front of it. By sharing this letter, I have thankfully been reminded of the true value of photographs. My NY’s resolution was to finish my photography course & start my own business. However, it will now also be to spend some time in front of the camera with my husband & our gorgeous boys, so they will have memories of their own. Would you mind if I shared this with others now & in the future? Kindest Regards, Jaime.

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  87. My name is Renee. Im an amateur phtographer that photo document as many life events as I can. Perhaps this was inspired by the following story.

    In 1985 my father in law was killed in an automobile accident. The weekend prior to his death he informed me he had gone to Olan Mills for self portraits. I was so thankful for that conversation as I was the only person that knew those photos existed. My then husband and his family received a treasure when they were able to purchase photos of their beloved family member after his passing.

    Thanks for sharing this letter. It was very touching.

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  88. Pingback: This says it all. » Photographers Do Not Bend

  89. Thank you for this… This is the reason I got into photography in the first place… When my father died unexpectedly at the age of 62, I frantically searched for anything and everything that brought him back to me… To my sadness, I found one card… (Because I threw them all away) and two photographs…
    It made it even more gut wrenching, because when my sisters and I cleaned out his house, we found 5 large boxes filled with every card, every photograph, every hand drawn kindergarden picture we ever gave him… My father, although died young, valued every bit of his life with his 3 daughters, while we took it for granted… Its a life regret that I have, that now has changed my life forever…

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  90. WOW! Clearly you’ve struck a chord with A LOT of people! We do only have these as memories but I often look at the pictures of my grandparents that have passed away or even moments that have happened and are now gone…people need to realize that sometimes these precious moments are all we have with someone…or it may be the last memory we have of a certain person/family member. I really appreciate you posting this and letting people know that yes, this is your living but you’re using your God-given talents to help people capture their memories forever.

    I’m going to post this on my Facebook page if that’s okay! I think it needs to be shared! THANKS again for posting this!

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  91. Over my years of being a full time photographer (since 1979), I have been commissioned to provide portraits for folks who are aware that they are dying, who will soon be experiencing life altering medical operations or procedures that have high risk, some who have had loved ones die recently and regret not having portrait images that reflect their personality to remember them by, and also clients who have unexpectedly passed away shortly after I photographed them – – – in all cases, my photographic images of them providing treasured memories for their family to remember them by.

    Not all clients appreciate the value of a photographic portrait and spending what seems to them to be an exhorbitant amount of money, “on just paper” – – – but as your post has demonstrated, can easily justify spending equal amounts on consumables and other less valuable items that have no lasting value.

    Finding a link to this post of yours this morning, reinforced in me the value of quality portraiture – as well as being confident in maintaining prices so that we photographers can continue providing such needed works – – – thank you for making Karen’s thoughts available to us, even though I know it was intended for your future customers.

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  92. This one is tough for me I have watched customers I cared about die..yes portraits can be expensive..people dont realize the time..blood sweat and tears we pour out over your families..A. good photographer doesn’t just take pictures of the family..they become part of that family. I pray for my families and think of them as my own.. You are capturing moments in time and memories..its not about perfection..but reflection..

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  93. Heartbreaking & true. I capture lifestyle pictures for people, however I read this as someone from the other side of the lens since I have a wife I cherish and children who are growing way too fast.

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  94. This letter made me cry i jus lost my mother to cancer dec. 09,2011 she had just found out in sept. and sometimes i feel like i dint have enough time with her but i had 40 years and i treasuresd every moment but it still wasnt enough i think about i should have took more photos but one thing i no she is a permanent picture in my heart….

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  96. Not sure where you’re located, but I read this in Boiestown because it was shared by Tracy Waye Kelly, so I hope you don’t mind if I share it to get this even further.
    Time is the one thing we can not turn back, but we can change how we spend the rest of our todays.
    Thanking the lady that wrote this letter, and you, for sharing.
    Prayers

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  97. I’m speechless, wow! How heart breaking for this poor family to have to go through this time and yet still have the courage to compose a letter such as this ….. one strong lady.
    God bless, our prayers are with you!
    Pictures truly affect lives in a positive way.
    J

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  98. Pingback: This makes my heart hurt. And I am going to get my OWN family photos done very s... | Newborn Photographer Arizona | Newborn Photographer | Baby Photography

  99. I woke up with this letter all over my newsfeed. Several of my photog friends must have come across it last night. I’m passing it along on my Facebook as well. Thanks for sharing this. :)

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  100. Wow, what a heart-felt letter! Thank you for sharing this with us! One simply cannot put a price on a picture, as they capture much more than faces and scenery, they capture a moment in time that you will always be able to treasure. Sounds like you are doing an amazing job at just that.

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  101. I to am a photographer and love what I do to make memories precious.

    Photographic memories make it a little easier to remember your loved ones and I pray this little family will always treasure your pictures xxx

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  102. My photographer shared this and I was very thankful she did. I hope you don’t mind if I share it with others. I have always valued pictures as they help you remember the firsts, the lasts and everything in between. Thank you to all the photographers out there that use their talent to help capture these important moments.

    Juliana

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    • Thank you for all of the sharing – the fact that her heartfelt words are being passed along to so many people is amazing to me. The fact that is touching so many hearts is humbling.

      Like

  103. I am an amateur photographer just starting out. I purchased my camera and was part way through a basic short course, when my mum lost her battle to cancer. out of 8 classes i missed one the night she died. I understand the importance of pictures and importance of the job a photographer does.

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  104. my husband cringes every time i spend money on my kids photos – but at least i haven’t bought any new clothes since the 1st one was born 8 yrs ago, or ever had my nails done and only get a hair cut for locks of love donation every two years – i feel my sweet captured moments to share with my family through the years are way more important!

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  105. Can I repost and share this in my wall? As well as my notes? I’ll make sure it has your name in the bottom. About the letter, I am worthless, not because I have not words to write, but I rather share this fondly with my inner self.
    Zein Rodrigues.

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  106. This is the most amazing gift a photographer can receive. So sorry for that family and you as well. Not only do you “simply take their photograph”, as some people see it, but you really get to know your clients. Especially when your lucky enough to have them return to you for future sessions. And for this reason, I’m sorry for your pain, as well. Thank you so much for deciding to share this letter with the rest of us. And I also thank the mother who took the time to share her thoughts with you. She sounds like an amazing person. I will definitely be resharing.

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  107. With your permission, I would like to reshare as well. I recently had a client take pictures with her children for the first time ever…the oldest is in 6th grade and the youngest is 5. She was too self conscious to do it before. She didn’t order a lot, which is okay with me, but when I delivered them she cried…she said she didn’t realize how much she would love them.

    A few weeks later I was asked to restore old photos for another family who lost both parents within a year and there were no photos of them together (aside from large group shots). I spent hours restroing some snapshots and croping to just the parents and although not 100% pleased, the client was in love with them. She gave them to her significant other and his brothers for Christmas which brought 3 grown men to tears….although no ideal they finally had a picture of their parents.

    Pictures freeze memories, and I think your letter is a powerful example of that. Thank you for sharing with us.

    Like

    • Absolutely re-post as you wish Michelle. There are no words to describe how many people feel for this situation. It is very touching, loving, and if it makes anyone reflect on the importance of memories it has purpose.

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  108. Pingback: Portraits are more than paper | Central Alabama Custom Portrait Photography » Lori Mercer Photography – Central Alabama Child and Family Photographer (334) 399-1884

  109. So sorry you feel this way. It is making such a positive mark on thousands of people – and it was by no means meant to be tasteless. I think more people have found it awakening and have found love from it.

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    • Did the post you originally responded to with this note get removed? Or is it all appearing out of order, the way mine just appeared above, even though I left it well after you and Jill Samter (below) had posted? Weird. Silly WordPress! Keep up the great work & God bless.

      Like

    • Argh! Now it moved my post to well below where I intended it! I was asking about your post beginning with “So sorry you feel this way,” which seemed out of place with the post above it, and now I’m spamming up your comments So sorry.

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  110. This story is so very touching and brings tears as I read it. We had family photos done in our home, of my dear husband Doug, as he was dying of lung and bone cancer. It was a gift from my children for Christmas. They are memories that can never be taken from you. It was one of his better days, and done in Dec. 2010 and he died April 2011. Shannon did a wonder job, to make us all smile and we had a great session with her. Photos of family together are your greatest memories that no one can take away from you. A photo brings great memories to family for a lifetime. God Bless you and your family

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  111. Pingback: because nothing is important as those we love… |

  112. Wonderful poignant story…thank you forsharing it. It certainly does bring into focus the value of family photos over other things you can spend money on. However I have always felt saddened that we could not afford professional pictures such as the ones you do. I pay $20 for a haircut and feel guilty about that. I don’t have my nails done and we don’t spend $79 on eating ot “just because “…it’s just not in the budget! Not that there is anything wrong with those things at all…or with spending $500 on portroats

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    • Oops got cut off! Anyway …I don’t know much about photography as a profession. I am a registered nurse. I love capturing memories and would actually like to work in photography someday providing quality pictures at a more affordable cost to families. (And I understand this would only be possible because we are not dependent on my income) I believe strongly in the value of family photos…and if we could afford it I would have them done by a professional rather than somewhere like sears. For now at least….we make sure to have them done at least somewhere. These years just fly by.

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    • I think a point you could take from this letter is to get pictures and save the memories, period. A point-and-shoot taking candid photos at a birthday party is just as important in many ways. :) I can only dream of affording pictures like this, though I hope to be able to someday, at least once.

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    • I agree with you 100% Lynn. 95% of the images I have of my children and family are quite candid actually. I’m happy to see you get the actual point – that photographs are memories, are healing, and are important regardless of who takes them.

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  113. This is a very touching story that everyone should read. I lost my mother when I was 19–she was only 40. After her death, I eagerly looked for pictures taken of me and her together and was disappointed to find very few existed. As I reflected on those times as a teenager when a photo opportunity presented itself for us to have a picture together, I would shirk and whine because I avoided uncool situations where I had to sit still long enough to let someone capture a moment in time of me with my mother. Now that she’s gone, how I wish I had more pictures of her … and WITH her. 

    I irritate my kids by wielding my camera out and snapping pictures of them. I hardly ever get the opportunity of actually being IN the pictures with them unless it is during that one time a year right before Christmas when we all get together for a family portrait. This is important to me, and I hope one day they will appreciate my photo-persistence. 

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  114. Thank you so much for sharing! As a photographer I am the worst at getting my own stuff up on the walls because I spend so much time making sure everyone else does. After reading this I ordered a nice wall portrait of our family taken in November. Thank you.

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  115. Pingback: Portraits are more than paper. Please Read | Scott Russell Photography

  116. Pingback: It’s Important | Twisted Fencepost

  117. I am sharing your post tomorrow on my blog. Our family is facing the loss of a very beloved father, grandfather. I will be putting together 10 yrs worth of photos for our family to have in a special book. I will be giving this book to our family to cherish for years and generations to come. The value of the moments captured are priceless! I love that you shared her story with us and how it is blessing not only photographers around the globe but will inspire people to get in front of the camera! God bless you and the family who is still dealing with the loss of their treasured wife, mom, daughter, sister and friend!

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  118. This was powerful. We should all get back to basics and whats important in life. Experiences and memories with our loved ones should be of the highest priority. I wouldn’t take a million bucks for the photos of my kids and family. When I look at pic of my kids I am taken back to a happy place remembering just what we were doing on that day, how we felt and so on. Whats that saying a picture is worth a thousand words. Oh yea.

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  119. Thank you so much for sharing this letter.. I get teased all the time, about all the pictures I take, but know in my heart, I am leaving a legacy to anyone who is in them, and someday.. they will look back and be forever greatful.. I had to share this link… My prayers go out to Karen and her family… and to you Jeanine.

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  120. 100% agree. I had my prom pictures done professionally not for the pictures with my friends, but I knew my time with my dad was limited. There’s one picture of me and my dad looking at each other smiling. It was taken in 2007, and I’d say 11 out of 12 months of each year, it’s my profile picture. It’s my screensaver on my phone, and I have it put up in my room. Some people think “it’s just a picture” but it’s not, it’s a memory of someone. If ANYONE is thinking of booking a session, it is SO worth the money. Find a photographer, and do it. Make it a priority, because you never know when that picture will become the thing you treasure the most.

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  121. Thanks for sharing. I believe that photos should represent the good times and the trying times. I think that a photo session with the family after the cancer has hit would be a wonderful thing. Photography represents reality, not just perfect hair, smiles and poses. It could represent the time where the family is drawn together because of pending problems and tragedy. My parents are older and I know that they will not be with me forever. My mother suffers from scoliosis and other health problems. She is in pain every moment of everyday. I value pictures of her in this state as much as pictures of her in her healthier days.

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  122. My husband always tells me I have to many pictures but he still pays for me to get our pictures done. We don’t have many pictures of my grandparents in there later years but my biggest reason for wanting all the pictures I can have is my older brother. We had our last set of family pictures taken when I was about 11 and we didn’t really take many pictures around our house. A week after I graduated at 18 when I was 5 months pregnant with my daughter we found out my brother’s leukemia was back(first round was when I was 15). Things were not on our side and after several rounds of chemo and complications due to him catching a cold and being put into a drug induced coma we found out it had spread to several organs. His body was to weak to undergo any more treatments. By the time my daughter was born he was in a nursing home receiving physical therapy we had two family snapshots done and 12 days after I turned 19 when my daughter was 3 months old my brother passed away. At 19 I knew I would never have a complete family picture taken again. All those years we missed out never thinking the worst would happen that we wouldn’t have that chance to take another. I haven’t printed out every snapsot I’ve taken but they are all on multiple discs and I have thousands in albums and scrapbooks. I will continue to take pictures and last year was the first year we didn’t get our family pictures taken(our daughter is 9) due to many things that just seemed to get in the way but we are getting them done next month. My husband is in the military and we have 2 children now so every moment we have together is precious to me. I know that we are not guarenteed tomorrow so it’s never to many pictures because tomorrow it could be the memory we need. My grandfather passed away last year he had Alzheimer’s so knowing that his last years he spent not knowing where he was and forgetting people and places the things he had done. I know we have those pictures I have the letters and cards we have sent and given to one another over the years if the worst ever happens we have memories and that’s something to many people forget about until it’s to late. My thoughts are with the writer of the letter and her family.

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  123. Pingback: What’s The Value of a Portrait? « images670

  124. This is a letter that needed to be shared. I do not work in photography but I do own a camera and I do take alot of pictures. These are memories for me to put on a piece of paper to capture the moment but the moment was the people i was with and the memories that I hold dear to my heart as I snapped the picture. Then at the end of the day or week I like to send my pics onto my family and friends so they too can share a moment in time.
    When a commisioned photographer is hired I already know about what the cost will be, I have never been surprised because this is a very special time to capture in time on paper what oters see in you or the group of people. You have to have a connection with the photographer in some way or level so they may capture the image of a great moment that can be shared with others or displayed within their home. Price has never been a factor for me but capturing that special moment is a priceless thing. I give praise to those of you that do this for a living your work comes from a special place within your heart and you can see far beyond the lense of any camera. Thanks for what you do and the many memories you have shared.

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  125. Wow…Thank you for sharing with us all…It is unbelievable the overwhelming sadness and regret I can feel just through reading this… I am so sorry to the family that is losing their mom most of all…Thank you for letting us have a morning wake up call tho for all those that take each day for granted

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  126. I’m so glad you shared this.

    My father died when I was 2; I have no memory of him at all. And there are only two pictures of him at all, in that big ol’ box full of unidentified people (most from the 40s & 50s). What I’d give for just a couple more; or even just one of the two of us together.

    Thank you again – going to share this on Facebook (I see where you’ve said “please do share” many times already)

    My heart goes out to the family.

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  127. This just broke my heart… The hardest lesson learned is the one you can not go back to… My family has learned this the hard way also… I am a photographer also and no one in my husbands family likes getting their pictures taken. When my 18 month old baby boy passed, my family still had so many pictures of us with him and milestones in his little life. But my husbands family had none… All they have is their memory’s and in time memory’s do fade… :-(

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  128. I pray it’s not too late for her to have another session. What an amazing gift it would be for you to give her. Especially after supporting your businesses much as she has. So touching.

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  129. Pingback: A Letter On My Doorstep » Jet Kaiser Films Blog

  130. Pingback: Three52 -a personal project | blairsville, pa photographer | Jen McKen Photography

  131. Pingback: Portraits are more than paper « Career. Food. Environment. Stuff.

  132. I’m in tears!!! Truly a story to share. Life is really so precious and the simplest things like a photo can share so much love, memories and moments creating much laughter and many smiles. Blessings to you.

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  133. Pingback: “…Portraits Are More Than Paper.” « Beth Moskal Photography

  134. Wow what a great thing to share. I am completely in tears. My biggest fear in life is leaving my children while they are still young, and my heart goes out to karen, her husband and children. I just want to thank Karen for writing this letter and you for sharing it. It is teaching people all over the world the importance of every moment we have with eachother, and not to take those moments for granted. I know I will definately make an effort to take time to savor the moments I have with my loved ones and take lots more pictures too :). I will pass this message along to my children and teach them to value what little time we do have on earth with eachother, and to record their moments with loved ones as well, because we never know when God will call us to come home. Thank you Karen. I will never forget this important lesson.

    -Jennifer M

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  135. Pingback: more than paper…

  136. Okay so, I am a big basket of emotions on a good day, thanks for the read, this was beautiful and a balled my eyes out. . . So the big question is (and I apologize if you already answered this but I couldn’t read all the replies) Did you do a photo shoot for her for free? Did you ever contact her again?

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    • It is a big question. I got this letter after she had already passed, but I will be photographing for the family in the future for sure. Many of my clients I’ve had for many years – I am thankful that I get to photograph families as they grow and change, and even more thankful that things like this make me appreciate my own family that much more as well.

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  137. I hope she and her family made memories with the money spent in a different way. I also hope that if the photographer would have known about the sickness, the session would have been pro bono and a discount on the photos that were ordered. It sounds like she was a repeat customer, but finances were tight. I hope they were able to get some great “casual” photos that will mean so much to the family.

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  138. I’m touched and curious: did you get to talk with or write to Karen L. (or respond in any way) before she died? For the people who are unfortunately criticizing your choice to post, it might be helpful for them to understand better your connection with her and/or her family (whom I’d guess would want you to honor her wishes to the fullest extent possible by sharing). Assuming it was cool with her family, I’m thankful for your willingness not only to honor her wish by sharing it with those clients who cancel, but to extend her witness by sharing it with the world. There will always be individuals who fail to understand the value of true artistry, but everyone shares the need to be reminded of the value of life with loved ones.

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    • There have been so many positive comments and people that have been affected in an amazing way from this post, and so very few that have found it dis-tasteful for me to post such a thing. It was my reason for hesitating the past couple months on whether I should actually post it. I am very glad I finally did post – it has been one of the most positive experiences hearing stories and love from so many others with similar experiences. Most of my clients are people I photograph frequently… at least yearly, and I am grateful to have the experience of being a family photographer for so many. I have relationships built with many of the people I photograph – which is why I found this so touching to me personally. As much as people may want more information – I will be leaving it at this; out of respect for the family. They are aware of my posting and have approved before I did so. I’ve been a professional photographer for 24 years – I love my clients, I love what I do, and I only wish for everyone to value every second they have with their loved ones.

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  139. Pingback: not just a piece of paper » Carrie Vines, Lifestyle Art Photographer, International Wedding, Family and Baby Photography

  140. What a moving letter. My best friend lost her 22 year old nephew last night to cancer. He was fine on Christmas Day…felt sick on Boxing Day and was on life support by the 29th. They made the ultimate devastating decision to turn off the machines last night. My hope is that someone took lots of pics of him on Christmas Day playing with his younger cousins and that they have many other photos of him to remember him by in the hard days to come.

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  141. We own a photography studio in stilwell, kansas and this brought me to tears. THANK you for sharing this. The memories we capture are so valuable and show the love between families. I’m glad you posted her letter.

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  142. Thank you for sharing…It is a sad letter but it is all true-sometimes we waste our time and money on something nobody will remember later…I wish this family courage while they are dealing with cancer….

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  143. I am a volunteer and on the board of The Healing Nest, located in Corunna, MI. We do services for cancer patients that are in treatment for free. We have a young mom now with 3 children who has late stage breast cancer. We have found a student photographer to take pictures of her and her kids for free. This mom could never afford to have professional pictures taken. She is so excited. If any of you are photographers and are interested in doing something like this, please contact me at 989-288-2373. What a way to pay it forward. We do our services out of a victorian house in Corunna so there are lots of photo opportunities there or we could help them get to your studio if needed. This article touched my heart. I lost my son 9 months ago and know how important pictures are. You can never have enough.

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  144. Wow! What can I say….this letter was beyond heartfelt. Thank you for posting it. I have shared it on my facebook as it is something everyone should read.
    As I mentioned on my wall post, I was just at a wake for a family friend and all around the room were photos of her life with family and friends. Photos are memories, storytelling without saying a word!

    I see how it was hard for you to post but thank you again :)

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  145. A client of mine shared this story with me. This is all too powerful and I hope that many that read this will learn to value the price of a photograph and value the photographer that captures their priceless, timeless memories. I have shared this story on my Facebook page as I have had a few tell me the same about my prices. I think that many will get something out of your sharing this letter and those that do not and consider it “tasteless” are those that always expect everything for nothing. Keep doing what you are doing, because as this letter points out, you are a terrific photographer and you bring wonderful joy and memories to many families. I will be following your blog now. =) Happy New Year!

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  146. It is.soo true how much a picture is Wort.my husband thinks I am crazy for taking soo many photos and having so many done
    My heart breaks for this family and for.that poor womans feeling of regret. May God bless them

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  147. Photographs are so powerful. They are a lasting memory of loved ones, and great times shared. I treasure all my pics of my family. Thank you sharing Karen’s letter. I am better for having read it. I would love to share her letter as well with your permission. God bless.

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  148. Thank you so much for sharing this very emotional post – it really drives home the fact that our photography is so MUCH more than the cost of a session or a wall portrait, and I felt so sorry for the lady who sat down to write that letter to you.

    It’s these things that other people just don’t give a thought to when they’re trying to find a photographer to capture their memories, and I wish more photographers were able to communicate to their potential clients the essence of this note.

    Wishing you all the very best in your work, and thanks again.

    Nigel

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  149. Thank you for the reminder, it’s such a sad story.
    I shared your post on my Facebook wall with these words…….

    When one of my closest friend’s mother passed away, she told me that her most prized possession was the photograph that I had taken of the two of them.
    Even though I don’t shoot portraits, there are so many fine and talented photographers that do.
    The cost of doing business is high, and the time involved in pre and post production is considerable.
    Down the road you will never value anything more than photographs of the people that you love.

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  150. Yes this is very sad. I waited 16 years between “formal” family portraits. But we took vacations every year to the National parks, and I have many family “informal” portraits that are just as wonderful as the formal ones. People cannot always afford a portrait, but a formal portrait is one glimpse, when everyone was dressed up and posed. It means a lot to me but the informal pictures are the ones I would not give up for anything.

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  151. Pingback: Very Powerful Story that everyone should read {Orlando area Photographer} « Alyssa Neil Photography

  152. Pingback: {Putting it into Perspective} Hayley Michel Photography

  153. Wow! that’s all that comes to mind….Wow! How sad, beautiful, terrible, and wonderful….all at the same time! Her story is sad and her situation is terrible. With out a doubt! The way she has shared with no abandon, and has taught us all….beautiful, wonderful, and priceless. I’ m so sorry that she and her family are going through this. Thank you for sharing and teaching us all.

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    • Really not counting. Just pouring over all of the similar stories and situations. Sad & happy – and amazed at the importance of loved ones to so many people. Photographs of my family are my most prized possessions.

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  154. Pingback: No Photos in This Post :: Craig Schmidt Photography

  155. This is a beautiful post, and very sad too.

    It may help a lot of readers though if you say somewhere in the post that you did not receive the letter until after she had already passed away. I did a lot of reading through the comments to find that out, since I was curious too if you went and photographed the family for them.

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  156. Pingback: Portraits are more than paper » Stylized Portraiture - Athens Photographers

  157. A really raw one here Jeanine. On behalf of photographers awide, I thank you for sharing it.

    Our hearts go out to all involved here. Life is so cruel sometimes.

    We hope you continue to find warm inspirations to keep shooting with the same energy and passion as that before you read this letter.

    Once again, thanks for sharing Jeanine.

    Best for 2012,

    David
    DSP

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  158. Pingback: Just a quick letter to share with you…… | The Simple Living

  159. I am so glad you shared this. I’m usually a ‘close to the vest’ person, but I’m nearly crying at work.
    My heart goes out to her and her family. My prayers as well. This is always my fear for myself and others. May God bless her family and hold them close.

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  160. Pingback: A letter on my door step - Portraits are more than paper - Infinity Photography & DesignInfinity Photography & Designfor memories that last a lifetime

  161. I had an opposite experience two years ago. A chance meeting of an old family friend at a wedding led to the first family portrait for the family in 19 years. The mother felt compelled to make it happen, and I drove 200 miles to be a part of the event. Our time together was short, only about 30 minutes, but turned out to be a critical moment for all of them. The mother passed away a short 5 months later. If she had not followed her heart her family would have been left without any current memory of her. What a tragedy that would have been. I am so grateful I get to be a part of each session with my clients, my job leaves lasting imprints on each and every family’s life. What a blessing it is to be a photographer!

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  162. Pingback: Why I strive to take family photos not once, but twice a year… «

  163. What an amazing letter, an a truly heart felt affirmation of what photography does, it captures a special moment in time that can never be recovered but can be held for our eyes to see. Time is precious, but more important that timeself is what we choose to do with it……………………………………………………………………………………

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  164. This is so very sad, yet so true. This is one of the many reasons I have no problems returning to see you often & spend the hundres of dollars inwhich I spent over the past many visits. I hope everyone will learn from this if they decide to pass up on these precious times we have with our families.

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  165. Pingback: So touching and a good reminder. - London Moms

  166. As a professional photographer, I am so thankful for what you have shared. Many times, I get the comments very much like what you get… and with so many consumers happy with their cell phone photos, its becoming harder to be appreciated for all the hard work and care we spend on creating beautiful, meaningful images that our clients will treasure. We spend a lifetime studying our craft, owning very expensive equipment and growing as artists and its frustrating to hear that we are too expensive or Uncle Bob will be shooting our wedding after all.
    Thanks you so much.
    Best regards.

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  167. To karens husband:
    Thank you for actually delivering this letter. Your wife has made an impact on people that is so clear, as you can see in the posts. I will hold my family close tonight, and have booked the family photo shoot I’ve been contemplating for so long. Thank you for allowing this piece of your wife be shared. Thinking and praying for you and your family through this hard time

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  168. OMg thank you for sharing this letter! This is why i do my job! I lost my daughter two years ago… when i first started photography it was all about capturing portraits.. Then i lost my daughter and for a moment i thought about not doing photography but I realized all the pictures I have are memories of her. I wanted others to have memories too! if someone was to get sick or just need to look back and i know i created a memory that last a lifetime!
    As the tears flow reading your letter it makes me feel good about what i do!
    Thank you
    Danielle

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  169. This is just beautiful. It is true. A picture is priceless. And so are the work of photographers. Keep up the good work. Please share this with others. Everyone needs to see this.

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  170. Thank you for deciding to share this with us. We all need to hear this every so often. I too would like to re-post but what I would really like is to suggest that you re-post it every January as a reminder for all of us. By the vast number of posts, you have touched many people.

    Thank you again.

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  171. I love the Photography done by these special people. The Photos are just amazing. I do take Photos myself for my family and friends, not professional of course but they are not to bad and it gives them memories to look at for a lifetime. There is absolutely nothing like a picture of someone you love. Along with memories pictures last forever and ever . They tell a thousand words and then some. It is like having that person right there with you, and you would give nothing in the world for it because it holds priceless value to you. I lost my 21 year old son last spring. He was not one that would let me take his picture much. The last year of his life he was very sick. Now I have no recent pictures of him. Take your pictures, as my son used to say when he was well and taking pictures “we are making memories”. Where would I be if not for all the pictures during his growing up. Now they are more precious than ever.If all things were taken from me. I would only want my pictures.

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  172. Pingback: A Letter Worth Reading « The Well

  173. Pingback: Why not spoil yourself with photos? » Jillian Bickle Photography |Cobourg and Northumberland Area Photographer | illustrating your life story

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  175. Thank you for sharing. For Mother’s Day 2010, my husband & 3 children agreed to have a family portrait taken. We had it done by a local professional photographer & it was so worth it, since I knew my children were getting ready to leave the nest. One is away at college now and another is a Marine. When I start to miss them, I just look at the beautiful photo on our mantle.

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  176. Pingback: If you follow a lot of photographer on here, you have seen this. It's worth the... | Newborn Photographer Colorado | Newborn Photographer | Baby Photography

  177. Wow. I’m an amateur photographer and a mother of 3. I don’t charge a whole heck of a lot to do photo shoots because I’m not a professional. But, I’ve had some people cancel or complain about the prices, but thats okay. I’ve always known how important it is, especially as a mother, to capture all the memories you can along the way, but I guess I never “grasped” it, really, until reading this post. Thank You!! Prayers going up on this lady’s behalf.

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  178. Despite what the letter said, I hope you don’t think about forwarding that e-mail to customers. I, personally, would not appreciate receiving it if I had cancelled a session with you. It would feel like a combination guilt-trip/high-pressure sales tactic.

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    • I think that the positive feedback from this post is heart warming & inspires people to look at love & family in a new light. It really doesn’t matter who takes the photo – but realizing it is more that just paper is the message in my mind. I don’t want to photograph anyone under pressure, it would defeat the purpose – and they then wouldn’t have the natural expressions & love to capture – and great images are 90% capturing the connections in life to me.

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  179. Pingback: Referral Credits | Pictures are more than paper » RandiJasmine Photography | Nashville, Clarksville Wedding Photographer | Kingsport, Johnson City, and Fort Campbell Wedding Photographer

  180. A great reminder that photos are priceless. Thank you for sharing. I have a similar story of a family I’ve been photographing for a couple years now. They came to me after a long battle with infertility to get maternity photos (twins!). I took pics of the babies, family photos as they got bigger. Last year, after rescheduling a couple times we did another family session and got some really great photos. A month later her husband passed away in his sleep. Leaving her with a 3year old and twin 1 year olds. It was hear wrenching. But I was so thankful we got those photos. And so was she. A few months ago she sent me a text and thanked me for giving her those photos. And sent me a pic of her wall where she has them hanging. She told me the oldest boy “kisses Daddy every night before bed”.

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  181. Oh…..wow…..I can barely see beyond the tears as I’m writing this…
    That is so unbelievably sad, I couldn’t imagine…..my daughter holds my entire heart, she’s what I live for. It’s just the two of us now as my marriage didn’t work out, we have had 4 sessions with our photographer….9 days,9 months, 1 year, and a 19 month Christmas session……they are worth more than $…..they are just what she said…..irreplaceable memories we have for a lifetime. This touched me wholely and completely….my heart goes out to the entire family.
    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful letter.

    Jen & Ella

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  182. I have my on Charlies 11 grade school picture in my wallet as it is the last one we ever got, in fact it was brought to us at his funeral! It is the way we saw him last. As the 11 yeas have passed we still remember him that way. I have taken several portraits and just snap shots of people just to get news within weeks or months they were gone and was asked for prints as it was their last.

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  183. Pingback: The Importance of Photography » Ella Photography

  184. This hits incredibly close to home for me. In 1998 I married my best friend. The photographs of that day are incredible, artistic, amazing and so full of life and our love. As newlyweds with expenses we chose to wait just a bit to get the official prints but mulled over the proofs together for months. Finally, about 7 months later we narrowed it down and ordered. I picked an amazing frame for the big one we chose… or rather my husband chose. It wasn’t my very favorite but sometimes you just let them win one right? On April 30th, 1999, only 8 months after I married my best friend, he died beside me in a rollover car accident. Our photographs arrived one week after his funeral. I never got the chance to hang it in a place of honor to gush over every time I look at it. I never sent the ones we had printed for our wedding party… or did I… I don’t remember. All I know is that the stack of amazing photos from that day while priceless for any new bride became a lifeline to my memories and to my best friend on the best day of my life. What do I tell friends who are planning their wedding now? It doesn’t matter if your flowers aren’t quite right or if the band sounds bad (both were the case for my wedding) get yourself a photographer who you KNOW will give you the memories you will cherish… sometimes they are all you have left to hang onto.
    Stacey

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  185. I just had photographs taken of my family in early December and when my husband looked at me like I was possessed because of the amount of money I spent on the pictures I just told him, “you can’t keep a memory of everything if you don’t have something in front of you to remember it.” He let it go and of course I now have the memory of my family captured in photographs in December 2011. It’s a great feeling to have. Thanks for sharing the letter, it is heartfelt and I feel bad for the family…we need to capture the moments not only for us now but for our descendants to have memories passed on from generation to generation.

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  186. Never take a photo for granted. I lost my youngest daughter at the age of 21 in 2008. This past August, as we were holding our annual charity event in her name, my random thought to myself was “I should get an updated photo of Jessie for that poster” Then it hit me that there would be no more “updated” photos. I realized, though, how blessed I am to have all the incredible pictures of her that I do have, many shared by her friends. Ironically, the very last picture of her taken on her “angel day” was one taken at her work, in the bathroom of all places! I cherish that photo so much! Don’t measure memories in dollars and cents, they are worth so very much more!

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    • I also feel bad that this person only got that out of this…but it might help if you included, up at the top, that you do Not plan to show the letter in the way that she suggested…I’ve been reading the comments [so many touching stories!] and I get that you are not going to guilt-trip people into buying photos/sessions, but making it more clear at the top would probably help to avoid this type of reaction.

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  187. My mother would agree. Just less than 2 years after spending hundreds of dollars on my sisters senior portraits, my mother found herself ordering them again as memories of my sister after her death. Nothing is as irreplaceable ad photographs, especially when that is all you have left.

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  188. This is a truly touching story! I feel like I could 100% relate to her in that situation, except for all the extras. I have 2 beautiful babies who I’ve wanted professionally photographed since I found out I was first pregnant. Would have loved a maternity shot that wasn’t taken by me too, but we don’t always get what we want in this world due to finances. Which is where my point comes in, I’d feel this way (like I was cheated of something I’ve always wanted) and I’ve never had $500.00 extra to spend in a week…my last manicure was before I had my first while I was in University, so hopefully some photogs looked at this post as an eye opener on their own prices. I know nothing in this world is free, but it sure would be nice if professional photogs were at least a tiny bit more accessible to new families cause Walmart photos are just…well….walmart photos LOL Also, if prices were a little lower or even really low, you’d always be busy. I know I’d have my kids in getting photos every week or at least month if it were. I’ve seen the “one year photo packages for 5 sessions at baby’s different stages run for 2000.00″ not including everything. That’s just not realistic with a one income budget. Yes, it’s not just a piece of paper, but most moms in this world don’t have $500 extra for anything non food/shelter related let alone photos. A pros worst unedited photo would still probably be better than most I’ve ever taken- so keep in mind that photogs could touch a lot more families going through very similar situations or even worse ones for lower costs. I’m not trying to rant, but I met a woman who had a similar experience, only I met her at a children’s hospital-she had saved up during her entire pregnancy to have maternity shots taken. She couldn’t afford them before she had the baby, so she was going to have the baby’s done instead. She booked the babies photos for the day she got paid-which was the day after she was given her baby’s diagnosis of 24 hours. She openly sobbed to me (a complete stranger) that she didn’t have one shot of her baby in her belly or out that wasn’t taken on a “S**T” cell phone before she died. I’m not sure the details of what exactly had happened to her baby, as we had an appointment we HAD to be at, but I always think of her when I see pro photo prices. According to a nurse there the woman frequently visits the hospital to see her “daughter’s room”. There’s a lot of heartbreak in this world, & I wish I had the talent to capture some of the joyful moments so beautifully too

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    • Hi Roxie. I really appreciate your post and perspective. I think we all wish that we could use our talents by giving everything away for free. I do have a family with two young boys myself – and photographers also know that it is a labor of love as most of us just make enough to get by. In my perspective the real point was that she wanted people to see that photographs have real value – more than just a piece of paper as she stated.

      Like

  189. I normally don’t comment on posts, but I couldn’t help but stopping to post for you today. I just wanted to say thank you posting this. I’m sure it was hard for you to post it, considering the circumstances and the personal touch of this letter. I just wanted to tell you that I am going to share this, along with so many people.

    This is one of the things that people need to remember. Family is more important than all of the things we buy, it’s more important than all the pointless, useless stuff that we waste our money on daily. Sometimes we forget things like this and it’s not until it is too late, that our priorities really fall in to place.

    I know this story has touched me and will continue to touch so many others throughout their days as well. Sometimes it’s the little things in life that mean the most.

    Once again, thank you for posting this. I sincerely appreciate hearing stories like this.

    — Sending you all the best —
    *~* Angel Eyes *~*

    Like

  190. I see the point of spending money on memorable things than transient items. Granted, that spending quality time (such as a lovely dinner with conversation) with loved ones are memorable things and will stick with one forever, and no photograph is going to capture the nuances, the conversation, and physical interactions. I think this is a touching story, just want to also keep things in perspective that memories do not only go on professional photography in one setting. I hope this lady got to spend time with her loved ones.

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  191. Such a touching story and reminder of what is important in life – and what is not! Thanks for sharing this letter – for so many reasons beyond photography!

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  192. SADLY THIS TRULY HITS HOME. I MET MY BEST FRIEND IN 1998. WE SOON BECAME SISTERS FROM DIFFERENT MISTERS. WE UNDERSTOOD EACH OTHER ON A DEEPER LEVEL THAN MOST- SHE WAS MY ROCK AND I, HERS. SO 11 YRS LATER SHE DISAPPEARS. MISSING WITH HER IS HER HUSBAND AND MY GOD DAUGHTER WHO WAS BORN 28 DAYS BEFORE MY OWN DAUGHTER. JUST GONE. WHEN A LOVED ONE IS MISSING, ITS NOT THE SAME AS WHEN ONE DIES. THERE IS NO CLOSURE. THEY HAVE BEEN MISSING FOR THE LAST 2 YEARS AND I ONLY HAVE 1 PHOTO WITH THE TWO OF US. JUST ONE. ITS GETTING BRITTLE ON THE EDGES AND WEAK IN THE PLACES MY TEARS HAVE HIT- BUT I CANT BEAR TO PUT IT AWAY. SO MANY TIMES AS I HOLD MY PHOTO I GET SO DISSAPOINTED IN MYSELF FOR NOT TAKING ANY WITH THE TWO OF US. THERE IS NO WAY TO FIX THAT BUT I HAVE LEARNED – NOW RUNNING OUT BATTERIES ON MY CAMERA ABOUT EVERY 2 OR 3 DAYS. PICTURES BEING TAKEN ALL THE TIME. JUST WISH I HAD THOUGHT OF THIS 2 AND A HALF YRS AGO. THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING THIS LETTER.
    GOD BLESS,
    NIKI SHENOLD

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  193. Sounds like a lame excuse for gouging!
    There are lots of great photographers
    Out there whose prices are a fraction of
    $500! Unfortunate that this lady didn’t
    choose someone else. We get fantastic
    Family photos done every year for around
    $100.

    Like

    • That is just around what she had chosen to spend in the past – My sessions actually start at $150 so not that much different than yours. I would love to see your website/work – please share.

      Like

  194. This post and letter just brought me to tears. I am sharing this link as we speak. I can relate to this on many levels…First I am a photographer and secondly I am battling cancer …so I get it…But this why I do what I do and try to leave memories for those who I can!

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  195. I’m sorry, not to be rude but if it didn’t cost $500 for those portraits then maybe she could have gotten them. i feel this is less about the pictures and more about making stuff like this affordable so people can get those pictures taken.

    Like

  196. Pingback: Definitely a must read. | Newborn Photographer Florida | Newborn Photographer | Baby Photography

  197. you should post some of the pictures you took of Karen over the years, in honor of her life, it would make the letter seem more genuine.

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  198. I have taken hundreds, more like thousands of photos in my lifetime. I was laughed at because I took so many. I took them of people, places and things from all angles and in different lighting. Some are good, some not so good. A few are great, by my simple standards, and some are just plain bad. Do I regret the time and money spent? Never! Some of the subjects are now gone from my life and I treasure the photos I have of them. I have never regretted taking a photo. I have, however, regretted NOT taking some. I am not a professional photographer. I like to play around with it and have fun, I can’t afford a pro to take photos; that’s why I take my own . I never turn down the opportunity to make memories, on paper or otherwise. Life is too short and too precious. Bless you for sharing this post.

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  199. WOW what a powerful letter,I am wiping away the tears. you could not write a more powerful letter if you tried. I am always tell my clients that the photos might not mean a lot to you today. But to the future generation they will be priceless. Thank you for sharing.

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  200. Pingback: Oh this one has me crying. The value of pictures is higher than most people ever... | Newborn Photographer California | Newborn Photographer | Baby Photography

    • I got the letter after she passed. However, I will be photographing her family. If everyone could afford to use their skills for free, it would be a wonderful world – I would like nothing more than to photograph for every single person in need. However, I do also have a family to support. Artists have bills and families too in many cases.

      Like

  201. This link was posted to Facebook and I wondered if it was even real at first. Maybe I’m a cynic, but it seems like a “pull on your hearstrings” type of advertisement for your business. Sorry to be so negative, but I really feel like I needed to say it. I’m glad that so many people are being touched by it. Maybe I need to look inside, and see why I’m not getting the point of this whole thing. Thanks

    Like

    • Hi Bonnie. It truly was a humbling experience for me, and I was amazed at how many people have been through similar situations. I can’t make anyone believe – and it was a real experience for me that I will have with me for the rest of my life. The simple fact that so many people have been touched, and if one person takes out their camera to get some photos of their loved ones today makes it worth posting the letter in my mind. Out of all of the Thank You’s for posting and the mass number of people that have read this – I have had only a handful of negative comments/e-mails…. I was only hoping that it would benefit someone else’s life.

      Like

  202. This is worth it..just reading this letter. Setting my heart where it should be..realizing I am Not in control and living each day the way Christ would want me to..I have lost 4 siblings..and I cherish each and every time I take me camera..snap that picture..and realize..many where the last ones taken of them. God bless you and richly bless your business..

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  203. Pingback: A letter on my door step. portraits are more than paper. | Fototails Photography ‹ Raw Image Studio

  204. This is brilliant marketing. Everyone knows that sex sells and one thing that sells even better than that is Fear. This one has fear and empathy, this is the best subversive marketing I’ve seen in ages.

    She forgot to add to her letter that the best pictures require no camera, but that would hurt the sales pitch I suppose.

    Like

    • I’m so sorry that you feel so strongly about me for I’ve never met you and I think such temperment requires someone to actually know somone before slander is encountered. I make a modest living, am proud to have a beautiful family, and photography is truly a labor of love – as for most of us it is never going to be a way to get rich. I don’t live lavishly, I donate to local shelters, and I actually have a family member with terminal cancer right now called Chordoma – so this letter I received really hit home for me. I think if all you have taken from this is that it is marketing – it is a very sad missed message by you. It really isn’t about paying big $$ for a photo – it is about the fact that the worth of an image is really more than just a piece of paper and many people have really understood this here; please don’t disregard feelings of so many. My only regret that the message was missed by you.

      I’m sorry that you feel as negative as you do about me sharing this letter, and hope that some day we can meet so you can make a valid judgement about my character. I wish you love, family and happiness in your life.

      Like

  205. To you new photograhers….. Please use your nw photography art to help others.
    Orphans need you, the sick and dying need you, those moving far from home need you.
    To us old timers in portrait photography I say thank you for all the inspiration and help you have given to me to reach out with my talent and thoughtful “eye” to document a story that would otherwise go untold… My carreer have been a labor of love.
    I wish I could tell future clients that they should document their lives and its relationships with meaningful beautiful images while they can. Yet sometimes they say they cannot afford our work …… yet they take world vacations , play golf many times a week, eat out often, get manicures , and have maids clean their homes. It is a matter of priorities.
    I love my clients becasue they c
    are so much about their loved ones that they make sure to leave a visual legacy.

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  206. Pictures are our memories of the past and ones that are very dear. They become our history for our children and their children.

    Pictures are so easy to do and will one day bring a smile through the tears due to memories of days gone by.

    Like

  207. Thank you for this. I am absolutely sobbing. I am picking up my camera right now and calling a friend (Army wife) whose husband is home for R&R right now. I’m going to see if there’s still time to shoot the family before he returns to Afghanistan.

    Like

  208. This broke my heart. I can totally relate. When my first born son was born, I took a few pictures everyday. I wish I knew how to use it better at the time. But, that being said I truly cherish those pictures because when he suddenly passed away 23 days later they are the only things I have now of him that remind me that he was really here. I tell my family “who cares” when I try to take there pictures and they say “no, I don’t look good”. I tell them it is there smile that matters and the beauty from within that I am capturing.

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  209. Pingback: :-( http://fototails.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/a-letter-on-my-doorstep-portrai... | Newborn Photographer Florida | Newborn Photographer | Baby Photography

  210. I honestly realize how difficult it must have been to read that letter and then the courage to share it with the public. I commend you for sharing this with us as you have put a spotlight on Karen’s courage not just in writing the letter but in sharing herself. It would be incredible legacy for her if you could find some way to honor her each and every year with your skill as a photographer. Photography is at times trying but more than not humbling and awe-inspiring.

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  211. Hi Jeanine,
    Thank you for posting. This letter truly pulled strings and made me remember a time when I couldn’t find a picture of me and my dad. I was trying to find one of just me and him to create a poster board memorial during his wake. To this day I hate knowing I missed many chances to take one before he passed away and now it is too late. My prayers are with Karen and her family.

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  212. Pingback: portraits are more than paper » Jenifer Domenico Photography

  213. I have so many friends and family that refuse to have their photos taken, whether it’s a bad hair day, they’re not in the mood, or they just simply ‘don’t like cameras.’ It always pains me, especially when they are important to me, that they don’t allow at least one photo of our memory/time together. It must be such an amazing feeling to have received this letter, even though the circumstances are so sad…to know that you were able to touch someones life so much through your trade and passion. I hope I’m able to touch people just the same. Thank you for sharing this.

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  214. With only six days to go until the anniversary of my dear mother’s loss to cancer I can understand every word this family has said. The pictures I have are priceless even if I didn’t always appreciate the cost before her death. I would pay anything today to have more time, memories, and photographs. While not the first to want to jump in front of the camera (I’m more comfortable behind the lens) this reminds me that my children deserve a legacy. Sometimes memories don’t cut it and someone with Amanda’s amazing talent and gift for capturing love in every photo is priceless. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    • Thank you Melissa. I’m sorry if anyone hassled you – I’m just happy that it has touched so many people’s lives. As much as there will always be a few negative people – the people it serves well make it worth posting it.

      Like

  215. Pingback: Why get portraits made?

  216. Pingback: Portraits Are More Than Paper - Why photographs are very important and lasts forever.... | Angelica Criscuolo Photography

  217. I’ve been reading a lot of blogs recently and this post is right up there with most inspirational. Even if this affects one person profoundly it’s worth the posting. In your case it’s clearly affected thousands, amazing work. I can only hope some day to inspire people like this through my blog, under different circumstances of course.

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  218. Pingback: A letter on my door step. portraits are more than paper. {MUST READ} : Amarticus Photography { South Florida }

  219. Pingback: The Real Value of a Portrait « The Ashley Lowder Photography Blog

  220. WOW! A powerful letter… As a photographer – it’s nice to be reminded of what our images mean to others… as a mom… I’m even more eager to have some photographs taken of my own family! There are tons of photo’s with my son and husband… and too few of the three of us!

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  221. As an unpaid photographer I am so glad to have the photo “bug”. I tell you this because of the loss of my dad, mom and sister in less than 3 years. The relevance is that at each of their memorial services we had tons of pictures to display on tables that spanned their lives for the most part since I was about six and started taking pics. They were not all perfect by any means but they did show the happiness and events of each of their lives that most of those in attendance would otherwise have no clue of their extended personalities that I as a child started taking pictures and countinued throughout their lives and were able to share so many things about them to those in attendance of the service. Obviously pictures are much much more than a thousand words. I am so grateful our biggest problem for each of the three memorials was which ones to display and which ones to keep to ourselves. Thank God that was our dilemma as opposed to having only a few to share. Thanks for letting me tell my “how important photographs are” story via your page.

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  222. Pingback: Thank you Eileen, I cannot tell you how much this single article just touched me... | Newborn Photographer California | Newborn Photographer | Baby Photography

  223. We have a wonderful photographer to capture our family photos, I am so thankful for her. A week after my father in law was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer I called her and asked if she could make the trip back to our home to do pictures one last time with my klds and their grandpa, and my husband with his dad. She did, and she didn’t charge me a penny, she said she just couldn’t- knowing that she was able to get our family photos done while he was still well was priceless to her- and to me. Thanks for all you do!

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  224. Pingback: Portraits are more than paper... So touching. You never know what tomorrow will... | Newborn Photographer Florida | Newborn Photographer | Baby Photography

  225. Pingback: Portraits Are More Than Paper |

  226. I have had similar conversations and feedback with clients and prospective clients. One family actually had their house burn down and their infant son was killed one week before the portrait they had scheduled with me. Mom was devastated that she had procrastinated. It’s not something we really talk about but it’s true. Fine photography is a very special way to keep memories alive. Thank you for sharing!

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  227. Very sad…but one question. I know it’s not the same as getting your family pictures done professionaly, but why not take as many family pictures with a normal digatil while you can? They are still memories

    Like

    • any photos are precious and ‘professional’ isn’t necessarily better than what you refer to as ‘normal’. however, an amazing professional photographer can capture the essence of the subject at a whole new level than most people can do with their cell phones… that’s what i want to remember my loved ones and for them to remember me.

      Like

  228. I, like so many others have been deeply moved by this.
    I posted it on NAOYP facebook page because I only have three pictures of my best friend who sadly passed away too soon in 2009.

    I CHERISH those photograph’s, they’re all that I have of him now.

    Thank you for sharing this with the world! <3

    Like

  229. Thank you for sharing the letter. I know to some it sounds sensationalized for blog hits (or whatever) but for those of us who get it. Thanks!

    My husband and I got married in Aug ’01, in the same month, we lost his Bama and was told his other grandmother was terminal. We lost Grams 6 months to the day of Bama and within the first year of marriage, we also lost one of my bridesmaids. The event was just as important as the photos, but so glad we got the images that we could, when we did. And so are the other family members.

    I also have photos of my grand parents with my children. I just mentioned the other day that I’ll never get an updated image to replace the one with my grandfather.

    The most heart-wrenching part of her letter that got me was about spending money getting her hair done, yet at the point in which she wrote to you, she had lost her hair.

    PS. I was one of those who got professional shots of my belly and newborn, but then didn’t have the money to do it for the second child. Sigh, I wish I had as no matter how many images I took, it’s just not the same quality as a professional.

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  230. Pingback: Portraits Are Not Just Paper |

  231. I’ve been thinking about dropping out of school the past few weeks. (I’m taking classes to be a Photographer.) Reading her letter honestly touched me so much to realize how much something as simple as a photo can touch and change someone’s life…Thank you for sharing this.

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  232. Thank you for sharing this letter. Since my mother died, I tell everyone that they need to take a ridiculous amount of pictures. Photos are frozen memories. They remind us of cherished moments with cherished people. It is the closet thing you can get to time travel. And once someone that you love has passed from this life, pictures help you to remember their face; their eyes; their smile forever. Photos keep them alive.

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  233. Thank you for sharing. Family is the greatest gift we are given in this world. Preserving memories is why I love what I do. As I am sure you feel the same. I will be sharing.

    Like

  234. Is Karen still with us? (I admit, I didn’t read through all of the responses/comments.) I’d love to contribute to a session, if she is able.

    Like

  235. I am a photographer and would like to share this, after a grueling holiday season this puts into perspective just why we do what we do.thank you!

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  236. Pingback: A Photo is Worth So Much « Time-Slips In Photos

  237. i understand you wanted to provide justification to another client as to why your prices are fair. However, reading this makes me want to run to her, camera in hand, and taken one last photo of her legacy. Complementary. Wondering if you did??

    Like

  238. This rings true in my heart!! I was diagnosed 7 years ago and one of the first things I thought of that if I wasn’t going to make it was that my kids didin’t have enough pictures with me. The first thing I did after being diagnosed was go and buy a camera. Thankfully we are still taking pictures and getting our portraits yearly if not more. What a great post!!

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  239. Pingback: Wow! Very powerful! | Newborn Photographer Connecticut | Newborn Photographer | Baby Photography

  240. My house burned when my youngest children were only 3 and 19 months old. I lost all of my pics of them (especially the newborn) I learned early on the meaning behind a photograph.
    Thank you for sharing!

    Like

  241. When it comes to memories nothing says it more than with a photo. There is no price on photos and even if you can’t afford the professional ones, there’s still good old fashion disposable cameras. Thank you for sharing this…what a beautiful letter you received just confirming exactly why you do what you do. Saving memories one shot at a time.

    Like

  242. This just breaks my heart because I know how much a picture is really worth. I never got to meet my mom because she died of a car crash before I was old enough to hold a memory or her. So the few pictures I have are the only thing that I have left. And no amount of money or anything else could ever replace those.

    Like

  243. If I can make it through without sobbing, I will read this to my husband. He cringes every time I book a session with my cousin. I will also share this with the people I know that use their talents and passion to capture memories for families.

    Like

  244. I know how true this is, less than a week ago I found pictures that were taken of my parents, my brother and me taken 5 days before my mother passed away in 2009. It’s not the most flattering picture of any of us but I will cherish the picture for many, many years.

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  245. How true this story is. There were 6 kids in my family, and we don’t have even 1 family photo. We ranged in ages 7 to 23 when my mother died. No one ever considered a family photo with all 8 of us. This is so sad, and a tough way to learn a lesson about time, and the value of a simple photo.

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  246. Pingback: “Portraits Are More Than Paper.” » Tiffany Rebecca | 970.310.8859 | Denver, Chicago, New York

  247. I too would like to add my thanks to you for being courageous enough to post this letter. I am sure many other photographers picked up a camera for one of the many reasons I did so long ago: that our own photographs act as a form of ‘Memory Box’ and without them, some memories do get lost forever.

    You have just helped me with my New Year’s resolution: to get my personal photographs off of the computer, printed and hung up on the walls. I could not bear the loss if my computer crashed.

    Thank you so much Jeanine.

    Like

  248. I hope to God that this is not a way to promote your business. If so this is an awful way to do it. This lumped my throat up so much it hurt. This story is very touching and an amazing way to look at photography, and what it actually can mean to have those moments captured no matter the price.

    Like

  249. I have read this twice now. Once to myself and once to my husband. We just brought our wonderful son into the world he is 6 weeks old. When I read your blog post to my husband I couldn’t help but tear up. It’s amazing how life is. I’m speechless. Thank you for sharing this letter.

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  250. One photo is worth a thousand words. How precious 1 photo can be. This makes me think about alot of things. Live each and every day as if it were a gift. Make sure to leave at least 1 photo to pass on to future generations.

    Like

  251. Pingback: Photography is Priceless « Focused on Light | PEI Photography

  252. Thank you so much for sharing I was in tears while reading as most people were. I had a neighbor who once lost a once child who was hit by a car and had no recent family pictures done. They went and had some taken and had him edited in. I promised myself then that I would never do that to myself. A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with a rare auto immune disorder there are only about 12 cases in the usa. The first treatment they gave me I gained about 100 lbs so I have refused to have pictures taken because of my wieght. I am gradually getting worse so I finally gave in and had them taken so that I also would never regret having not had them taken. I told myself finally that if I keep waiting until I loose the weight I wlll never do it. So I had them taken they are not my favorite and would love to have them done again since I am still loosing weight but I like many others have so many medical bills I cant afford to do them. Its kindof sad that they keep getting so pricey that we dont have them done as often as we should. I love to take pictures mayself when I am up to doing them I have a 95 yr old grandpa and we take pictures with him and my kids everytime we see him because you never know when it will be the last.

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  253. There could be nothing more so that is true than this statement she used. Photos are priceless…So many people feel they have to buy all….but if you can just realize that this is not a dress that wears out, or cars that get wrecked, or food you eat until its gone. We are talking about when your get older and your children have their children…you can go back and show your grandbabies, great grandbabies how much fun you were and how adorable they were as children and they can look at those photos when you are gone and see how much you and daddy loved each other…basically they will have a novel on the wall!…Your novel of your life through the years of the people you will love for eternity. thank you for posting…i lost my sister one year ago to melanoma at the age of 49 and i so wish she were here to read this too…May all those that are suffering with an illness either with themselve or with a loved one…remember grab that camera because these photos will be your inheiritance that are worth more than anything money could give you!…Happy New Year to all and may it be your most happy and healthiest year yet!

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  254. WOW. I couldn’t hold back the tears so much so I had to read it twice. My prayers go out to that family. I was always told Pictures say a thousand words and I found that out to be so true. I thank God for your talent and gift to so many. Your work is tremendous and precise. I can’t wait for the day my family and I have the opportunity to work with you my friend. Thank you so much for sharing this testimony. Again, wow this is worth sharing again and again. God bless you and all your many endeavors.

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  255. It reminds me of some heartbreaking phone calls I had taken over the past few years. I have had family members pass away only weeks after there family shoot. But the most deverstating was a family with a NB baby only weeks old, soon after the session the mum passed away in the night. The images we took where some of the only family shots they had. It’s true by the sound of the voice on the other end of that phone call…..portraits are more than paper.

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  256. Pingback: What is a portrait worth? | Ressler Photography

  257. I’ve long thought about doing a session for a patient/family at the oncology center I go to. (my issues are rather benign, esp to many who are there)

    I’m going to an appt on friday, and will ask the nurses and staff to help pick someone that would, wait, NEEDS, family photos done. And I’ll do it “gratis” as my gift to Karen L. and her family.
    What a wonderful story, thank you for sharing.

    Like

  258. I can’t possibly be the only one who finds this post patently offensive. For you to post it in response to someone saying your prices are too expensive (in this economy, when luxuries are out of the reach of so many!) is unconscionable. If someone sent you this letter, treasure it in your heart — don’t use it as a marketing tool. For shame.

    If anyone is reading this and feeling heartache that in this hard, hard economy they just can’t afford professional portraits, please know that your family will treasure non-professional photos taken at home just as much! Ask a friend to take a picture, take a video, write a diary for your loved ones, do any of a hundred free things that can create cherished memories for those you love. And shame on those who make you feel like you have to go into financial hardship to have that.

    Like

    • Where so many thousands of people have found peace and love in this letter, it makes me sad that you feel so strongly negative towards it. If all you found from reading it was that people need to spend money then the message was clearly missed by you. Thousands of people have written to me today seeing that the message was truly that photographs are an amazing testament to our loved ones and how a simple photograph is more than just a piece of paper. If you didn’t get that from my client’s letter that has passed, I am very sorry and wish you love in your future. How we read things, is many times a direct reflection of our own experiences and being a more positive person and seeing good in people is a wonderful way to live – I wish this for you.

      Like

  259. WOW…crying like a baby. This is why…I beg families…mine and others to not put it off. I lost a brother – he was 35. I can count on one hand how many photos I have of him. He is why I beg, plead. You are not promised tomorrow…and when we are gone, all that is left is memories…the mental ones fade, the physical ones (photos, momentos) last forever!! Thank you so much for sharing…and I think I shall myself.

    Hope

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  260. This is so heart touching! This is why I stress to my family the importance of taking pictures! I lost my mother 13saying years ago at such a young age a d all I have are the pics of her the rejoice when I’m sad about her death! I agree with her share this with someone who complains about the price!

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  261. I have tears streaming down my face as I read this, I had to read it twice, as my husband walked into the room and asked me why I was sobbing. I have to say that it was MUCH harder to read the second time thru and out loud. People think that I am obsessed as I take tons of pictures. Are they all portarit quality? No, but it is the fact that I captured that moment in time. The feelings, the moment and us. Forever captured in that one picture. I can’t even start to tell you what you posting this blog entry has meant to me. I would like to know if I might have your permission to re-post this in my blog that I write in every day. It is called Alpha-Pink-Omega.blogspot.com I started it as I am a 3-Day walker with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. I try to share things that I think are of value with people in the community and I think that this would touch many people. No matter what your decision is, I Thank you for sharing this. Your work will last for generations to come and you don’t just take pictures, you leave pieces of history… Thank you for all you do & continue to do. Blessings to you & yours wishing you every happiness and success this world has to offer…

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  262. This is amazing! If we take a moment to consider that thirty years down the line, the dress won’t fit, the cake is long gone and the flowers have all dried up, the only thing really left after the wedding is the pictures. When I think about what I’d want to be buried with, for sure, it’s my most priceless pictures. They truly cannot be replaced. They mark a moment in time like nothing else on Earth can…

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  263. As if you needed another comment…

    Thank you for sharing this. I do not do portrait photography (other than for my own family, or our unwitting guests), but I often get a sense that my work is telling something’s story that may not otherwise be known but for the pressure I apply to a little metallic looking button. Thank you for your work and for sharing this.

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  264. HII!!! Can we have an update?! what ever happened? Did the family get a portrait? How are the mother’s cancer treatments going? How did you respond to her letter????

    My mother passed away from pancreatic cancer 7 month ago. From her date of diagnosis to her passing, my family & I had 10 months to “capture the moment.” I took more pictures during those 10 months than I ever had previously in my 26 years of life. This story touched my heart more than I could ever say in words.

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    • Amy, I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. Karen’s cancer was caught too late and she has since passed. Although I will be photographing for their family in years to come. I’ve had cancer hit my family and am so sad that anyone has to endure such loss and sadness – especially when children are involved. You taking photographs during your time with you mother will mean the world for you and your family. Treasure the fact that you took the time to document as a testament to the love for her!

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  265. The day after I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma I called my photographer for a photo shoot. I had surgery to insert my medi-port and less than 24 hours later I was taking photos with my husband and 6 and 7 y/o girls. If it was the last thing I did, I was going to take one final picture for them. One year has passed and I lost my hair and gained 47 pounds from steriods, but this post reminds me that even though I think I look terrible, I need to schedule another photo shoot…I never know when it will be the last.

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    • I love hearing this perspective actually. I also at times have thought the same… until I had children. I now have two young boys that are fascinated by photographs of family & grandparents as well as the stories that I am able to attach to the images. It helps them see the bond and connection – and also allows them stories of days passed.

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  267. Wow. Such a touching story. Portraits really do gain value with time an unexpected tragedies. My heart goes out to this family, and this story has such a powerful message. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  268. As a “new” aspiring photographer, your letter has inspired me. I have been very flexible with my pricing, sensitive to the budgets of my clients. This letter reiterates to me that I am fortunate to have the blessing to be a part of so many special occasions and the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people. A picture is worth a thousand words…..and a million memories.

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  269. Thanks for sharing. I too had a newborn client that I photographed at 7 days old and he passed away due to heart complications at 19 days. It was tough and traumatic for me as well at that time. The family is forever thankful that they did the session with me as those photographs are all they have left of him.

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  270. Wow….just, wow. What a powerful letter. I can both see why you did not want to share this and why you had to share this. Thank you.
    I would also like to repost this on my blog if I may?

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  271. Portraits are our life’s moments, and a reflection of our past. When a house is on fire, most people grab their pictures/portraits first. The lives we share with our family members are so very important, and just looking at a picture can bring such joy to your heart.

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  272. I am sitting here in tears….thank you so much for sharing and for allowing others to share as well. I lost my dad 2 years ago 2 days before Christmas…i would give anything to have had a picture of he and I together his last year. He was wasting away from cancer and I didnt think he would want his picture taken. A few weeks ago my sister sent my daughter a picture of her and her husband and kids along with my dad. My heart is shattered that I dont have that, that I hadnt just asked if it was ok to take one. This is a reminder. My daughter has that amazing eye that photographers have. She takes pictures and no matter what there is beauty in them.

    Awhile back we got the camera we had loaned mom and dad on there last trip to the coast before he passed. Unbeknownst to my mom he had been taking pictures on the sly, of her watering her flowers he planted for her, of her reading the paper, of her leaning against a tree laughing. All these amazing memories none of us even knew existed until far after he died. What joyous gifts it was. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for this wonderful reminder of how fleeting life is, and how we should never ever take it for granted.

    God Bless you and thank you for letting us share this wonderful letter and gift you received.

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  273. Brian, thanks so much for sharing this with us, my heart is heavy with the thought of one of our “brothers” coping with his daughter’s recent prognosis – (breast cancer reoccurred) the doctor said it could be 2 days or 2 months, she is so young – so hard to understand – we are all so close – so you see this message hits very close to home for all of us.
    You do have an amazing eye and are a gifted photographer – well worth your current rate – don’t be discouraged by one customer who thinks otherwise – again – thanks for sharing such a powerful message.

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  274. Wow. I am in tears. I am sitting her printing out a years worth of my own pictures and feeling bad about spending the money. Thank you so much for sharing this. I will definitly pass it on

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  277. She is absolutely right portraits are way to priceless then anything else we spend on ourselves…pics u can look back at over and over but, a haircut, food, and nails are something u can never look back on!!!

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  278. I am so happy you shared this. I understand exactly where this lady is coming from. I can’t get enough photos of my daughter, but need to start getting more done of us as I am a cancer survivor. Having the ‘if’ factor in the back of my head just allows me to love her more and more each day, and cherish our moments together. This like this allow me to share and remind others, the little things are what make memories together with the people we love….. God Bless this woman’s family and her taking the time to share her feelings…..

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  280. This is because I’m a photographer, this is why I risk my life since years…Unfortunately most people don’t understand the value of a PHOTOGRAPH. Thanks for share….I will share with all the colleagues and please if you authorize me, I would like to translated into Spanish a publish into my blog…

    Best Regards

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  282. Jeanie I come at this from the other side. I am one who hates my picture taken. After reading this I will not hide from the camera. The pictures taken are not for me but for those I love I don’t have to ever look at them if I don’t want too. My brother has been away from my family for 24 years, how I would love to have a picture of him. In just the last few years I have lost aunts, uncles and my grandmother, how I treasure the pictures of them. I got the point over and over that what your heart is in posting this is for all of us to capture the memories while there is time. My grandmother passed in the spring two months later my dad had a stroke and before he could recover from that he found out he had cancer. He has just one chemo left and I pray he has lots more time but I would love to have some pictures of him and my mom. They both hate their pictures being taken too. by the way he also has had CHF and quintuple bypass surgery. Time is short take those pictures while you can.

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  283. Oh my! What a hearfelt letter. I dont think anybody realizes that the time we have here is so short! Too short. Never take a single moment for granted.

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  285. I love that you posted this here, and I think it is the perfect platform to do so. Often as we go about our work in any profession, we forget the real gift and worth of what we do each day. This so resonated with me when I read it — I had to share it with our wedding photographer. My husband and I were married on Sept. 17, 2011. We paid for our own wedding and were highly pressured to cut costs by having a friend do photos. However, we (so fortunately) found an amazing professional photographer to capture our day. In the three months that have passed since our wedding, I have unexpectedly lost two grandparents. They made it to the wedding, and the photos I have of them that day are something I’ll treasure forever. They are the last that we have. There’s one picture particularly of my grandmother, who raised me, holding my hand as I got ready. The image shows just our hands intertwined and has brought me so much comfort in the days since she has passed. It’s something that I truly believe only the trained and gifted eye of a professional could have adequately captured. Thank you for posting this, and I hope others will pass this along to the photographers in their lives as a thank you for what they do daily.

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  288. One of my favorite clients thanked me for passing this along on my Facebook wall today, and for what I had done for their family. That meant more to me than words can express. I’m so sorry you’ve experienced the loss of a client – but what an amazing gift she left behind for you. Thank you for sharing it with everyone else.

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  289. Hi!

    I am a silent blog reader most of the time but am really compelled to leave a comment. Yes, the story has touched my heart and I know how difficult must have been for you to share it AS IT IS and let the world feel its strong message. I love taking pictures and your post came as a timely reminder not to waste any moments and just snap away, for we can have something to reminisce the good ol’ days in retrospect.

    However, I am directing this to the 2% of negative viewers who have nothing nice to say about this entry and judge you. I really feel sorry for this bunch of people who judge every situation in retrospect and highlight only the seemingly ‘negative’ aspect of it. To these people: If you were a photographer, would you have questioned every customer who cancelled a session with you? Would you to be able to predict that your customer would pass away from cancer? Don’t lie to yourself that you would, because you WON’T. That was exactly what happened to Jeanine. You negative keyboard warriors have no rights to judge her like the way you did, because I am sure the exact same situation could have happened to you. DON’T JUDGE IN RETROSPECT. Everyone would have become a sane if they can predict everything that’s going to happen.

    It’s sad that these extreme negatives (who are nowhere near being realistic, because even a realist has a heart) expect everyone to be sanes and be at service for people without any benefits. NEWS FLASH: we need to save ourselves first before we can serve others. Jeanine is photographing PROFESSIONALLY for a LIVING. Even Karen saw the importance of that and that was why she told Jeanine to share her letter. Please don’t compare it to our spontaneous photo snapping that can come at little to no cost. I just irks me when people fail to realize that professional photography is different. Think it’s costly? Get alternative options! Why should professional photographers have to cheapen their services just because some inconsiderate people think it’s too expensive? (Note: I’m not referring to those who genuinely cannot afford and hopes for some help. I’m sure photographers have hearts and the flexibility to adjust accordingly.) Everyone have bills to pay, family to support, and photographers are no exception.

    Jeanine, I apologize for the slightly negative tone I’ve taken, but I really hope people see the message the way it is – the significance of a photograph, and not the significance of a PROFESSIONAL photograph (which I’m sure you never meant to channel that message in your post). Not everything is about “driving sales” and if these negative people failed to differentiate between gimmicks and what’s genuine, well I guess they really need some love, because their level of cynicism is appalling.

    Enough of my rambling! I sincerely wish you all the best and continue to take good pictures! The world could do with more love and beauty captured on paper. :) I can totally understand if you decide not to publish this but I just thought I’d let you know how I feel about this and thank you for sharing something so personal with us! :)

    Peace!
    KL

    PS: Going back to view the baby photos you’ve taken! Can’t resist looking at these cute eyecandies! :)

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