During the height of the Vietnam War, an airman named Jay Hess was shot down in the Northern region of Vietnam. Hess was captured by the enemy and was unable to communicate with his family for nearly two years.
Finally, while in Hanoi, his captors let him write a brief message to his family with one catch; he could only write 25 words or less. For two grueling years his family had no idea whether he was dead or alive. Not knowing if he would ever get the opportunity to communicate with them again, he had to methodically and carefully choose his words.
In his letter Hess mentioned a few things pertaining to his religious affiliation but he chose to close his letter with these words: “Press on, set goals, write history, take pictures twice a year.” Of all the things he could have said Hess told his family to “Write history and take pictures twice a year.”
This summer has made me realize the importance of his words. I never realized how important photos were until one of mine appeared in an obituary.
Like most military spouses I have a number of different roles: wife, mother, maid and lastly my professional role — photographer. Let me give a brief recap of the last six months when pertaining to my professional job — I have photographed: 50 families, 6 weddings, 56 child sessions and 13 engagement sessions. The most prominent, influential and memorable statistics from these sessions: Four of the people I took photos of in the last six months will not appear in next year’s photo or any photo from hereafter.
Last Thanksgiving as we were celebrating with family, a conversation sparked that required a call to action. My aunt announced that it had been more than a few years since she had family photos taken. Obviously, given the nature of my career, I insisted that we take a few family photos while we were visiting. The next day they went on a impromptu shopping trip for appropriate picture attire and we spent a good portion of the night taking family photos.
The session got a little outrageous when I started taking candid pictures of my cousin Taylor, who took the definition of crazy to a whole new level (in a good way). It was probably one of the most entertaining and no doubt the most memorable family sessions I have photographed.