A unique photoshoot today. First of its type for me. A family portrait session. Dad, Mum and 2 young children under the age of 4. Not that unusual?
This is their last family portrait.
Dad has cancer and is under the care of our local Hospice. I have a friend who works with the Hospice and she is their support worker. She wanted to arrange a family portrait to remember as they may only have a short time left together, and we had booked it in for a couple of weeks time. Sadly, the Dad’s condition worsened very rapidly; this is a sign that he is very near the end, perhaps only days. My friend called me yesterday and told me what was happening. My response, “Lets do the portrait session tomorrow.”
I had a portable pop-up background with me just in case, but we were able to take the family into the garden where I had a flash unit already set up. Dad was heavily medicated and on oxygen but said he was OK for a few minutes at a time to remove the mask for photos. We had a total of 5 minutes photography time before the physical strain became too much for him. During the 5 minutes I was able to capture 40 shots; that included various combinations: the 4 of them, Dad with both children, Dad with each child individually, Dad & Mum, then a final shot of just their 4 hands held together. As speed was of the essence, the pictures were ready to see on my laptop as soon as we had finished the session and the family were so delighted with the results.
It occurred to me that as an event photographer, I can create a portrait studio almost anywhere. Event Photographers in particular are (or should be) very skilled at producing lots high quality portraits in an extremely short space of time. We do it almost every day, sometimes hundreds of times a day, where we have to create a relationship or rapport with the client and capture that immediately. I worked out that during this very special photoshoot, I was taking a portrait every 7.5 seconds.
I understand how important these photographs are and how valuable they will become to the family in the future. It also made quite an impact on me personally. In the midst of all the madness and fun of social events such as Proms, Grad Balls, Weddings, etc it was a welcome reminder that each moment it clicks, you capture a tiny piece of someone’s life forever.
If you are a photographer reading this and have not already done so, consider approaching a Hospice or similar facility near you and offering this service. Whether or not this becomes a commercial part of what you do, only you can decide. Fortunately, I was able to respond immediately to the situation; I am thinking about talking with other event photographers in my area to see if we can create a number of teams so that other families can benefit if the need arises.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and for allowing me to share my story.