The Importance of a Portrait / by Alexandria Whitefeather

+ THE STORY BEHIND THE IMAGE


I've always seen value in portraits, and started taking them of my sisters when I was really young. My mom always joked that she never had to take pictures because I was always already doing it. I loved seeing the progression of how my sisters would change, but I never TRULY understood how important photographs really are until about 4 and a half years ago when I lost my father. All of a sudden it was like I was in search for pictures of him, and pictures of us together.  It was like the few photos I had of my dad, the ones that were sitting in a box gathering dust were invaluable now that they were all I had left of him.

I again became aware of this importance when it came to having a baby of my own. At just a year and a half she has grown and changed so much already and I want to remember all of these beautiful little moments that could easily escape my long term memory.

I realized how important it was for me to have photographs of my loved ones. To remember the sparkle in their eyes, the smile lines, the freckles.... to capture who they are this very moment in time. To leave a legacy that can be held onto for generations to come. 

And really, it is not the photograph itself. It's what the photograph represents. A beautiful being that has lived a life to remember, a father, a mother, a best friend, someone who sings in the shower, or snorts when they laugh, or the little tot that refuses to eat vegetables, but knows how to make your heart skip a beat.
The people who make us who we are, and who we want to be.
The ones we'll never forget. 

This. This is the importance of a portrait.

And this is why I do what I do.  


The story behind the image:

This photo was taken of my (then, 5 year old) sister over 11 years ago in the back seat of my dads old '57 VW bug. The widows were down, the wind was blowing, and it's safe to say the sunshine state didn't disappoint that day. I was sitting in the front seat while my sisters were in the back. The light was good, so I turned around and snapped a couple shots of my littlest sister looking out the window. 

The quality of this photo is not the greatest, as it was shot with my first ever digital camera. It had a whopping 3.2 megapixels... yes, your iPhone has almost 4x that amount. I also had to scan it into my computer, because all I have of this picture is an old and slightly wrinkled 5x7 print. But, despite the low quality of this image, it's one of my favorites because it reminds me of a bright, happy summer day as a young teen. And also because it reminds me of how cute my baby sis was. A sweet, beautiful, quirky little girl who loved life.

If you see a beautiful moment happening in front of you, a moment that you want to remember, whip out a camera and capture it. And if you're a little hung up on "what kind of camera" you have. Try to remember this wonderful piece of advice that has stuck with me from the moment I had heard it...

"The Camera is the Least Important Element in Photography".
-Julius Shulman

Because the truth is, if you find the right light and the right composition you'll find a beautiful photograph.