Take the Photo

Full disclosure: The last few months of 2016 were rough for us. We lost several family members in a very short time, the 20th anniversary of my dad’s passing came and went, and a couple really special people at church also passed. It was rough. But, it was also a huge reminder that life is so short and the people we love are never going to be here as long as we want them to be.

Two deaths impacted us deeply. The death of Tim’s paternal grandmother, Ruth, and the death of my maternal grandmother, Shirley. They were very different, but very important women in our lives. I wish I had known Ruth better and I wish I had spent more time these last few years with Grandma Shirley. I miss them both every single day.

As I was trying to find a way to honor them, I realized a sad fact: I have very few pictures of myself with either of them in the last several years. In fact, the only picture I could find with Ruth was at our wedding 10 years ago. It broke my heart. Mostly, because I know why I don’t have a lot of photos: I am not comfortable in my body. My never-ending struggle with self-image means that I have shied away from photos for years, and now I regret it so much.

So, here is my advice: take the photo. I really wanted to insert an expletive in that sentence, I feel so strongly about it, but I didn’t. but seriously, take the photo. Take all the photos. Take 1,000 photos of the people you love and hold on to them when the days get dark. If you’re like most of the people I know, you carry around a camera with you wherever you go. Use it. Worry less about that extra 10, 20, 40 pounds you’re carrying around and more about creating memories.

See someone taking a selfie? Ask if they want you to take a photo for them. While there are times and places they are appropriate (and some that aren’t – I’m looking at you selfie-taking Auschwitz tourists), most of the time, people are just trying to capture a memory. Help them. Encourage them. Because you don’t know how much you’ll want those memories in the all-to-soon future.


  1. Amen! I have so few pictures of myself with my grandparents, parents, and heck my kiddo because I never felt ‘camera-ready’. And now I really regret it. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yes yes yes. I love this and it’s so important. Thank you for your vulnerability Ems. Love you friend.

  3. Emily, I agree! I have discovered I’m not in photos because I’m most often taking the photo. I miss my grandmas too–even at my age. I want my kids to have pictures of our memories together.
    Great message! Great writing!
    I am so sorry for your losses,
    Love you,

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