Today my family in Australia will hold a funeral for my dear Great Aunt.
Aunt Maud was a big inspiration for me. A loving Wife, Mother and Grandmother who was hugely involved in her local community. She had a wonderful warmth and generosity about her which I always admired. I have very fond memories of time spent with her - always with her huge smile... The kind of smile that you couldn't help but smile back at. Aunt Maud was also a wonderful photographer who captured beautiful landscapes of autumn leaves in her town. The photos were enlarged and hung on the wall, all glorious rich colour. I remember being fascinated by the photography process - how'd she manage to capture all that beauty in a picture?
The picture below is from her wedding day - what a moment to have captured!
While going through photographs to piece together the story of my dear Aunt's life, my cousin remarked to me how sad it was that so few of the photos showed a complete group of family or friends. There was always someone missing. Someone stuck behind the camera - a sibling, husband, wife or grandchild. Never a complete picture.
But that's how it goes isn't it? It's somehow easier for us to say 'don't worry, I'll take it' than to insist that we too are part of that important documentation of our history. Maybe we don't like how we look in photos ("I need to loose a few kilos, colour the roots of my hair, put better clothes on" blah blah blah - I've heard all the excuses) or maybe we're too embarrassed to say 'it's important for all of us to be a part of the picture', maybe we worry others will think we're vain. Either way, we're robbing ourselves - and our loved ones - of memories.
Because you know when photographs become their most valuable? When the person or the moment has long passed. When someone is piecing together the story of your life. Wanting to remember your glorious smile. Desperately looking for a picture of you and your loved ones together.
So before you take your next picture, make sure you don't leave anyone behind - including yourself. Ask a friend, a waiter, a stranger to take the picture. Prop a camera up on a wheelie bin/table/car and set the timer... Make sure you exist in photos too.
Rest peacefully my dear Aunt. Today and always I will remember you fondly. Here's to a life most wonderfully lived.