I know, printing wide format stuff for clients. There’s not much tough about that. Plus I get to hang out in a gallery all day. Nothing to complain about there either. Sounds like an easy life.
In all honesty, it’s a pretty nice life. But there are times when doing prints for folks really brings me down. I think you’ll get it in a moment……
Over the past year I’ve done some pretty specialized printing. Right off the bat when I started the print reproduction side of my business last year an acquaintance of mine lost his sister in a senseless car accident. He came to me and asked if I could do some print work for the funeral, and for the family. Of course, I helped any way I could.
Whether or not you know a person, I’m here to tell you that it’s tough sorting through the images a grieving family drops off with you. Seeing a young and alive person captured in recent moments of their life, selecting through the “best” images yourself because the family can’t bear to do it. That’s when the job gets tough. And no matter what, no matter how many times I’ve done the service, it makes me tear up every time.
To date I’ve done photo and print work for 7 families this past year who have lost loved ones. I also did some print work for a young military woman who was in her own last days and wanted some prints for her family before she passed. Talk about trying to keep your cool while speaking with her. She was ever so casual and accepting regarding the end of her life, and she just wanted to get prints done.
Every time I’ve done this type of work I get choked up. And in the past few weeks I’ve had to do 2 large format collages for the families of someone who passed. One of those recent collages was for a very dear friend of mine who lost his brother suddenly. Medical issues had gone on for some time with his brother, but it was extremely unexpected. That one was a little tougher to be sure. Several of the images were ones I shot at the family’s home last year for Christmas.
Right after my friend’s loss, Ian lost a friend as well. That was the week I had the emergency root canal and I was baked out of my mind on pain killers. I came into the gallery that week, driven in and home by friends, so I could set up another tribute to a person who was lost too young. Even though I didn’t know him either, pulling through the photos provided to pay an appropriate respect to him was hard as well. Not to mention I was trying not to pass out from the pain killers.
So, why write about this today? Well, I’m running a canvas as I type this for my friend’s family. We’re re-doing the collage I had provided for the funeral on canvas for the family home. A remembrance to a son and brother who left them too soon. And looking at the images once more, it’s left me a little sad for the morning.
I’m willing to bet that you now get the idea that sometimes doing this type of work can be a little tough after all.
For all reading this…… Make sure the folks around you know how important they are to you. And don’t forget to capture fun moments together while you can. I’m reminded of the movie, “Meet Joe Black,” and the Jamacian woman dying of cancer when she’s talking to death and answering him about his loneliness…….
Like they come to the island on a holiday. The sun didn’t burn you red red, just brown. You sleep, and no mosquitoes eat you. But the truth is, it’s bound to happen, if you stay long enough.
So, take that nice picture you’ve got in your head and go on with you. But don’t be fooled, we lonely here mostly too.
If we lucky, maybe, we got some nice pictures to take with us.
Go on now, go out today and find your nice pictures too.
That was very moving, Rich. Thank you. I’ll be thinking about it.
yep… so true.
The gifts you get from people are when they are with us.
Your sensitivity, sincere compassion and talent to recognize and incorporate special attributes into a memorable print is appreciated in more ways than you can imagine.
You and your work make a difference.