This was the image that started it all. Not one I randomly came across in a photography book, or Steve McCurry's iconic image on the cover of National Geographic of the Afghani girl. No, this was THE image.
I was used to seeing it sitting on a shelf in our family room in the house I grew up in. It was not a landscape, a picture of a historical monument or even of a beach. It wasn't a standard 5×7 or 8×10. It was black and white, and it didn't even fit perfectly in the frame. The frame held this picture in such a way as if it knew what the future held of those featured in the image. The picture was one I saw probably thousands of times as I sat in the family room with my family watching Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, or 60 Minutes on Sunday evenings. This was the room where my family gathered, and there it would sit on the shelf, watching us as a family, growing. It witnessed my hours upon hours of practicing the piano, having sleepovers with my childhood friends, and even as I napped if I was home sick from school.
There weren't other pictures in that same room. There were art pieces, wood sculptures, and during the holidays, our Christmas tree. But there it was, regal, and sitting on the shelf. With this in the room, everything else would have paled.
This is THE image that started it all for me. It explained my legacy, gave me a sense of ancestry, and was the start of a new branch on the family tree. The pictures shows innocence, grace, and beauty. And not with Photoshop actions, fancy effects or textures, it is simply a poised and beautiful image.
Other than the one that sat on the shelf, there is only one other copy of this image in existence. When I went away to college, I took it with me and it was the first picture I put up on my cork board. I was careful though, not to puncture the image, so I used more that one tack to hold it into place at the corners. Friends and acquaintances would stop and ask me who was in the picture, and when I told them, they were shocked. Shocked not because of the people in the picture, but because of the beauty they had never seen before. It looked like royalty, is what I was often told.
It wasn't until later in my college years did I ask to get it framed, and now 15 years later it sits on a shelf in my office where I have come and gone thousands of times too. I don't look at it every day, but I know it's there watching over me. It's my most prized possession, and one that is completely irreplaceable. And though I'll never know who took that picture and be able to thank them in person, I want to thank them in spirit for capturing something that is completely priceless.
As I've ventured into the field of photography, this image is alway at the forefront of my mind. Not just because of who is in it, but because I want to create for my clients, something so precious and timeless, that it will withstand the tests of time. And so here it is, my mother and father's wedding portrait.