The pricelessness of personal photos
As a professional photographer it is inherent that I value photography. I value it and I love it.
I value it because I know the time and dedication and commitment that goes into the creation of every photograph.
And I love it because it calls to me. Every photograph is unique and has a life and a story and a beauty and an intrigue of it's own.
I love and respect my clients because I know I am not inexpensive, and my clients must value what I do and also their own personal story that they are creating, to hire me.
But my love for my own personal photos of my family became very clear to me a couple nights ago when temperatures in Pawling NY, where I live, went below zero and pipes burst in my house. They burst in my bathroom which is above my dining room. The room I had just decided to hang not only photos of my children but my personal family history - photos of my late mother and father, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great grandparents even great-great- great grandparents. Photos I had not scanned or duplicated. Absolute priceless photos!
As I heard what I thought was rain, I proceeded downstairs knowing it was too cold to be raining, and I was met with a torrential torrent that was confined to a small space - my dining room. Realizing the situation I did not save the very expensive piano or the 1950s wood and leather Danish dining room table and chairs. No, I dove in through that downpour time and again, rescuing every last one of those photos! When I safely had all of them I was drenched but happy! Despite many frames ruined the priceless photographs themselves were intact! Never have I been so happy over a disaster (though I am lamenting the stiff piano keys that will no longer bend to my will).
I also learned something through it. I am a big advocate of my clients buying fine art photographs not just the digital files. First, I can control the outcome and quality of the photographs if I am printing or having my printer print them. Second, photographs should be works of art, displayed and enjoyed not stashed away on a computer. And while I still feel very strongly about this, I realized once I had recovered my photos, that these old photos were not backed up. I had no negatives for them and I had never had them scanned, stored safely in cyber-space for recovery should a disaster occur.
Family photographs are I think, the only material object that really is worth anything. A lost home can be replaced as can a car or a piano or a 1950s Danish dining room table but a photograph is priceless and irreplaceable especially to the next generation who will want to know who came before them.