I picked up a camera in 2008, and I laid my mother to rest in 2010. Guess what I never got around to? That’s right: I never created a real portrait of her before we said goodbye.
Back then, I knew I wanted to be a portrait photographer. I was starved for subjects. And after 12 years of fighting leukemia, I knew she was on borrowed time.
There was no reason not to do it, except one: Avoiding the portrait meant avoiding the inevitable.
I didn’t want to admit the clock was ticking. So here I am with plenty of candid shots of her, but not one real portrait.
On Photographing My Dad
You just read about the biggest mistake of my photography journey. Luckily, there’s a happy ending to this story.
I refused to make the same mistake twice. So I’ve made a point of photographing my father. When I’m shooting candidly, he’s got an uncanny knack for completely ignoring the camera:
And when it comes to actual portraiture, I hit the jackpot with my dad. Why? Because he always says yes.
When he’s so tired from working that he can barely stand up, he says yes.
When he’s upset because a loved one is in the hospital, he says yes.
When he’s just cranky because he didn’t get enough sleep, he says yes.
And I know why. Us Comeau men, we’re not always the best at sharing our feelings. But sitting down for a portrait lets us connect. We talk, we laugh, and we bond.
Here are some of favorites portraits of my dad from over the years:
And finally, here’s a shot of us together:
Yep, that just about sums up our photo sessions, no matter how serious the pictures come out!
Happy Father’s Day
You’re reading this on Father’s Day weekend for a reason. Because you have one mission to complete: create a portrait of your dad.
Yes, you can get your snapshots in at the family barbecue, but your assignment is to make a real portrait of your father. Sit him down for 5 or 10 minutes, and photograph with intent. Walk away with a portrait you’ll treasure 20 years from now.
Don’t have a dad? Fine. Grab your spouse, sibling, child, pet, whatever. They’re all important.
Listen, odds are, there will be another day for a portrait. There probably will be time. But what if there isn’t?
About the author: Michael Comeau is the Editor of OnPortraits.com, an all-new online community dedicated to simple, classic portrait photography. Click here for more information. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. This article was also published here.