For most people, the Super Bowl is the ultimate sports spectacle. People crowd into parties to watch their favorite teams smother each other with gleeful delight, chow down on Buffalo wings, and pound back a copious amount of alcoholic beverages.
For me, for the past four years, the Super Bowl has been synonymous with the passing of my grandmother, Margaret Javellas. After a long struggle with oldness, she succumbed to the non-disease after months of traveling wearily back and forth between my parent’s home and a nursing home.
This isn’t meant to be a depressing post. My grandmother was the most important person in my life and I miss her more than anything, but she lived a long life and died peacefully. My only regret is that I never took the time to take a proper portrait of her. Here I am, somewhat skilled at capturing peoples’ visages on film, but I never even considered taking a photo of someone that meant so much to me.
And you’d think I’d learn my lesson—of course not.
For the past few years I’ve been trying to get my wife’s grandfather to pose for me for a portrait. The guy was a legit zoot-suit swing artist and I had these dreams of getting him dressed up in one of his classic suits and photographing him with his cane or guitar. I waited too long. Two months ago he also died of old age.
There was no sudden disease or surprise. I just forgot and let the moments pass me by, and now it’s too late.
The one advice I have for any photographer—pro or amateur—is to make sure you stop and think about the people in your life that you see every day, and often forget to photograph. Be it your grandparents, mother, father, sister, brother—these people might not be here tomorrow and you won’t get another chance to do something as simple as take their photo.
Every time I cover a wedding or family event, I make it a point to confirm with the bride and groom if their grandparents will be in attendance, and then do everything in my power to photograph them. I’m not the biggest fan of posed portraits, but I never miss the chance to capture a granddaughter or grandson embracing or sharing a moment with a grandparent.
As for myself, I’ve got one grandmother left (an in-law, but she’s still awesome). I plan to photograph her as soon as she comes up from Florida. This past Christmas, I got my father in laws dad to post for a portrait. He’s an army vet who hasn’t had his portrait taken for quite a while. I thought he’d be a bit more apprehensive, but Grandpa Dan just smiled and thanked me for the shot.
Do yourself a favor, take a moment this week and photograph a loved one. It doesn’t matter who they are or how close you are—one day they’ll be gone and all you’ll have left to remember them by are the photos and memories. Luckily photos don’t fade too much. And when they do, they look even cooler.