[ the marriage of a history degree with a photography career ]

I used to think that the history degree I worked so hard to get from Whitman College had nothing to do with my professional as a commercial and portrait photographer.My eyes have recently been opened to the idea that they are, in fact, the perfect marriage.

I came across this photo of my grandparents from a time when they were engaged. (Isn’t this just fabulous stuff?!?)And then I came across this from Shaunae Teske Photography and read the note on the package. (And yes, that name “Teske” was what got me following her in the first place. I’m hoping we are somehow related but at any rate she is an absolutely amazing photographer.)

And it clicked.

I’m preserving history every time I click that shutter. And so do you.

What an amazing testament to our daily social histories. Think about it. We are preserving our stories. What we eat, who we share our time with, the kinds of thing we are wearing, the activities we are doing. All of these photos are telling our story to our friends, our kids, and someday our kids and grand kids. How cool is that?

I don’t know about you, but I sure wish I had more pieces to the puzzle of what my grandparent’s childhood was like. What my great-grandparents saw as they came over on the ships from Europe and Russia and Germany. Where did they live, what did they do? How did they spend their time?

Every family portrait session preserves a part of that family’s history. The relationships between the members of the family. A face that a future grandchild can look at and say, “Wow! I looked just like grandma when she was young.” Incredible stuff.

Even the corporate stuff I shoot. Ribbon cutting events become the stuff of 75 year corporate anniversaries and end up in time capsules. Marketing photos show how we do the work we do. Someday it might be interesting as historical stuff.

But here’s the catch. Print those photos. There’s no telling what technology is going to do in the next 10 years. That disc you just bought may no longer be readable. Order a few prints! Archival prints from professionals last generations! What a gift to our future ancestors!

I’ve recently discovered I no longer have time to scrapbook in the traditional way. So it is my goal each year (and I am in no way caught up) to put together a digital scrapbook through “Blurb” that I call my “Year in Pictures”. The quality is stunning. And the 12×12 book provides gorgeous large prints on photo paper. I love them. They are time consuming to put together when you take as many photos as I do each year, but totally worth it. Check them out.

I’m a history preserver. I capture history one click at a time.


[ a precautionary tale ]

Years ago I swore I would never shoot weddings. First lesson – never say never.

After shooting a wedding as a gift to a family member I realized I could handle it and thought maybe I would do one once in awhile. That was back in the film days. My thoughts were – you screw up someone’s once-in-a-lifetime event and you’re just DONE professionally.

Fast-forward about 15 years. To last Sunday, to be exact.

I shot a wedding Saturday and thought I’d start Sunday off with hot cup of coffee and load all my digital files into my computer. My first three cards imported without a hitch.

And then nothing. My computer told me it couldn’t read my card. Wait. What?

I’ve never seen that before. I tried not to panic and thought I’d just put it back in the camera and transfer from there.

My camera told me that the card had a formatting error and it couldn’t. be. read.

I started to SOB. Sob.

300 photos of the bride getting ready, groom and groomsmen portraits, groom seeing his precious daughter for the first time. Gone. G.O.N.E. Gone.

I freaked out and called Greg who told me not to worry.

Then I got online and found this company: Flashback Data.

I was immediately impressed with their customer service and quick response. They assured me that they see this all the time. (This happens a lot? I’ve been shooting digital for about 15 years and have done thousands of shoots and have NEVER had it happen to me). Flashback Data was AMAZING to work with. And super understanding and just wonderful. Keep them in your back pocket in case you ever need them. And I hope you don’t.

So I packaged up my little card and shipped it to Texas…and it took a week to get there. And I was being taught patience. A lot of patience.

And I tossed and turned at night and worried about how I would tell this bride what happened. How do you tell someone that 1/4th of their wedding memories are just gone? How do you tell someone that you screwed up. Big time. But it wasn’t really your fault and you had no control over it. How do you even start that conversation?

And my friends and family told me not to worry and I prayed for my little disk.

Today I was told that they found what I was after and I was saved after all. After spending a LOT of money to get those photos back. But it was worth every penny. Not just to save my professional reputation – but more importantly to get those images the bride trusted me to get.

So my lesson to other photogs out there. Card failure happens.

I have since bought all new fresh memory cards. (Although, let’s be honest. That’s no guarantee they won’t fail either.) And I was reminded that my camera actually HAS two memory card slots. WHY I’ve never thought of using this before? Probably because card failure had never happened to me. It actually backs up what I’m shooting to a second card in real time. You can bet I am using that from now on when what I’m shooting can’t be recreated. One more reason I buy top-of-the-line Nikon professional bodies.

This was a professional humbling on a scale I don’t care to repeat. Ever.

And yes, I do have it outlined in my wedding contract what happens if equipment fails. And I’m so thankful in this case we didn’t have to go there.

Thankful and humbled. It can happen to me. It did. And it can happen to you.

The photo above is just one of hundreds that were saved. Thank you Flashback Data.

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