There is nobody more important to photograph than our loved ones.
1. Why travel to photograph?
Why is it that we always try to photograph the exotic?
For example, it is more interesting to photograph a villager in some African tribe, than to photograph our partner.
It is more interesting to photograph a Parisian couple at a cafe drinking espressos, rather than to photograph our mother or father.
It is more interesting to photograph an epic sunset, rather than photograph our children, our friends, or ourselves.
2. Hedonic adaptation
As humans, we all eventually get used to everything. It is human nature.
For example, I remember when I thought if I bought a Leica M9, all my life’s problems would be solved. I would be creative for the rest of my life. The Leica would give me confidence and happiness in photography. Wrong. In about a month, it became like any other camera— collecting dust on my shelf.
The same goes with fancy cars, clothes, accessories, gadgets, and the like.
Psychologists call it ‘hedonic adaptation’. Hedonism (vain pleasure) and adaptation (we get used to it). So for example, even though you could have sex with a porn star every night, you would eventually bore of it. The same goes with eating the best cut of steak everyday, you would eventually get bored of it. The same goes with traveling to the most exotic cities in the world — you would eventually get bored of all these exotic cities.
3. Personal photography for appreciation in life
I think true wisdom is to find peace, happiness, and appreciation in the ordinary. That is why Street Photography has helped enlighten me. To help me realize anybody, anything, or any scene can be beautiful.
To take it a step further; personal photography is even better. Personal photography is all about documenting the lives of your loved ones. Because no matter what; all your loved ones will (one day) die. And you will die.
4. Remind yourself that life is short
So for me, I see the importance of photographing your loved ones as thus: by photographing your loved ones, you remind yourself that they are mortal. And all the moments, lovely laughs, and delicious meals you share— will eventually end.
To me, to photograph your loved ones isn’t necessarily for the purpose of making great photos. Rather, to realize that your loved ones or family are the best subjects for art. And to realize that like a beautiful rose, all the petals will eventually fall off.
I photograph Cindy, with the full awareness that she will die. I will die. I photograph her as a reminder to myself to appreciate my (brief) time on earth with her. And my ultimate hope in photographing Cindy and promoting ‘personal photography’ is to teach photographers:
Don’t take your loved ones for granted.
5. You both might pass away
Photograph your loved ones like today is going to be their last. Or photograph your loved ones like today is your last.
6. Tips to show more love to your loved ones through photography
Simple ways to get started:
a. Photograph with your smartphone
Photograph your loved ones with your smartphone, and whenever you hit the shutter— remind yourself, “This is a wonderful moment. I appreciate every second with them. This will not last forever.”
b. Tell your loved ones that you love them
Whenever I photograph Cindy, I compliment her on her beauty, intellect, and child-like curiosity. I almost use photography as an excuse to show my appreciation for her.
c. Make the photos beautiful
To the best of your ability; try to make the most artistic, beautiful photographs of your loved ones. Who knows, maybe one day you might use that image as their altar-piece. Also, if your loved ones pass before you do, at least you will have beautiful images of them, to uplift your soul when you are grieving.
Conclusion: Photograph with your heart
I don’t mean to depress you, scare you, or be so macabre.
However, I just want to urge you: photograph your loved ones, because your time together on earth is brief.
About the Author
Eric Kim is a street photographer and photography teacher currently based in Hanoi, Vietnam. His life’s mission is to produce as much “Open Source Photography” to make photography education accessible to all. You can see more of his work on his website, and find him on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. This article was also published here and shared with permission.