A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by someone here in Washington who wanted a photograph made of the view at her parents' house. Fairly run-of-the-mill at first blush but I had a feeling there was something else happening here. When I responded to her email, we set up a time to connect on the phone to discuss the project more. It turns out that her mother and father have reached that age in life where they need to move out of their current home. That meant selling and vacating the family home to be closer to family.
It wasn't just the view that she wanted a photograph of, she told me on the phone. She also wanted a couple of images from the house to remember what it was like to grow up and live there. She didn't have to say anymore - I was all in for this project. This was an opportunity to immortalise the memories of a life spent in this house for this family. This was an opportunity to photograph something that mattered an immeasurable amount to them, and definitely something I wanted to be a part of.
I'd never met either her mother, Maureen, or her father, John, before, but after that phone call I had an appointment made to meet them at their home to capture these memories. John and Maureen are the sweetest couple you'll ever meet. They welcomed me, a total stranger, into their house with open arms. They didn't know anything about why I was there except that I was there to photograph the view.
They brought me inside and gave me a short tour of their home. Then, we sat outside on their balcony which has this magnificent view over Lake Sammamish, drinking a nice glass of white wine. They started to tell me about their lives and their kids who had grown up here. I could see slight tears starting to form in their eyes as they told me about having to move. Before I had even taken my camera out of my camera bag, the meaning of these photos was very evident -- both John, Maureen as well as their family would look back at the photos I was about to take for a long time to come. Stories and memories from the family home would be told by these photographs. This opportunity was something I just knew from the beginning that I wanted to be a part of.
When I showed the images to the family, I wasn't able to be in the same location, so I shared the link with them via email. Within minutes, I got a text message from them:
Jacob! I am only part way thru and I needed to stop and write you - thank you - I LOVE these photos!! Need to finish looking thru them. You captured this!! Spot on!
Then, shortly after:
Honestly, this is what I dreamed of and more!! I am incredibly appreciative!!! Thank you Jacob! You captured them!
This is what it's all about. Right here. This impact. I couldn't stop smiling. It was the most unbelievable feeling to have been able to give this to her family.
For this family, these photos will tell the story of their family home and what it was like to live a life there. This story means so so soooo much more than any photograph of even the prettiest sunset - photographing this story was far more beautiful than those sunsets could have ever been. The impact from this set of photographs will not be in the form of likes or +1's online, but will be personal to this family for generations to come.
I'm so grateful for the opportunity to tell this story. I was so excited to edit and compile these photographs and share them with the family. Not only was it a great chance to give them something they'll be able to treasure for a long time to come, but it was also a great reminder to me of why I am a photographer - to capture and share human experiences just like this one, that truly matter.