• Sarah Margaret Henry

Take Crappy Pictures: Someday, It'll Be All You Have

Updated: May 6, 2020

One of the blessings and hardships of being an artist is your work is inherently emotional. While I consider this one of my favorite aspects of my job, there are certainly moments when it becomes overwhelming and I have to force myself to take a step back, recenter, and begin again.

Some days you get to capture a husband and wife's first kiss and some days you capture the few moments new parents have with their stillborn before their baby's body is taken away.

Both moments are equally unbelievable privileges to bear witness to and that fact is not lost on me. When someone trusts me, a stranger, into that moment of vulnerability, I am humbled and honored to capture those moments with authenticity and love.

Today I'm working on am emotionally heavy project; I'm taking photos, footage, and interviews about a man who was recently killed in a car accident and creating a memorial documentary for his family.

Francisco was a perfectly healthy father, partner, and friend, and in a split second of a freak accident, he was gone.

I never had the chance to know this man. As I look through these photos and listen to the recordings, I almost feel as though I am intruding. There are deeply personal photographs in there: love notes, pictures of the two moments before they fell asleep, the gum wrapper she wrote her number on in 1998 after they met for the first time and dancing the night away. I've only started editing this project yesterday and I've already cried, mourning for this man I've never known.

I've watched a video clip of his little boy saying "Daddy didn't deserve what happened. But it was God's decision, and we have to live with that."

This kid can't be older than 7.

There is nothing, on Earth at least, that can replicate the human experience. This deeply personal, nuanced understanding of life is unparalleled, deeply tragic, and some days almost impossible to survive.

As a photographer, I may be biased, but there is only one thing I want you to take away from this post.

Take pictures of your loved ones.

Take silly pictures, take crappy pictures, take photos where your hair is a mess, take pictures where your stomach looks "too big," take photos where your mouth is open wide because you couldn't breathe because you were laughing too hard, take photos you hope no one will ever see.

Because as I'm sorting through thousands of photos of this man's life, the blurry, tilted, imperfect moments are the photos that show me who this man really was.

Take crappy photos. You never know when it's all you have left.

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