Blog History Life

The Immense Value of the Snapshot

April 13, 2017

For the past month, I have gone through every photograph I can find in my grandfather’s stores of photos.  I have searched through every digital photo taken since 2009 (when I got my first digital camera, I was a bit late to the game).  I have even gotten my mom, 1,000 miles away, to dig through my belongings and find the small tub of photographs I have saved through all my moves.  In so much searching, I could not find what I was so looking and longing for.  I could not for the life of me find a photograph of my grandfather and I where I am any older than 8 years old.  My cousin is putting together the slideshow for his memorial service this month and AHHH!

And then this.  This treasure.  My aunt sent it to me via another cousin from their wedding about 11 years ago.

You know why I’m smiling here?  It’s because Grandpa was in the middle of saying “I don’t care where you decide to get married, I’ll fly anywhere in the world to be able to dance with you at your wedding someday.”  This was just after I had returned from YWAM, or perhaps in between trips–home from Thailand, headed to Spain? One way or the other, I was in full-on travel mode, and that spoke to my heart profoundly at that moment.  I am so grateful this photograph was found.  I had never seen it before a few weeks ago.


In the immense task of searching through all the photographs, I have come to a new, profound respect for the snapshot.  For the mom who documents life and special moments and trips.  I have a new respect for the everyday moments documented.  I think somewhere in my world of being a professional photographer, I have gotten either stuck-up or lazy about snapshots.  I only like to carry my camera with me for “real” things.  What a terrible thing!  What about the phone though?  Here’s the catch–as I scoured every photo I have ever taken since getting my first iPhone in 2011, and they are mostly photos of scenes/places, people’s dogs, and flowers. Photos of the PEOPLE I love?  So few.  Photos of the moments I want to remember, memorable because of the PEOPLE I love?  Hardly any in comparison to all the other things.

When people are gone, or when I am far away from them, photographs take on immeasurable value.  I know there is balance.  Sometimes people DO need to put down the camera or iPhone and just participate in the moments.  I think I have gone too far in the other direction though, and need to document a bit more of the everyday.  At least get a few photos of important moments for posterity.

There is immense value in both professional portraits and the everyday captures.  Professional portraits were a huge part of my education and my income for the past 7 years.  There is so much importance in having some quality photographs of your family through the years!  Looking back, though?  There is also immense value in memorable moments, like Grandpa teaching me to ski at age 3 or 4 by putting me in between his skis.  Or the birthday parties, graduations, learning to ride a bike, time spent with visiting grandparents, family vacations…all the small things that make up your history and the stories told later on.

I’m struggling to put this into words.  What are your thoughts on snapshots?

Here’s a few of my favorites from when we were little and didn’t live near the Grandparents.  It was so much easier to find photos like these than anything recent!  Still…smaller versions of my sister and I are pretty cute.



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  • Reply Cheri April 13, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Thank you for writing and posting this Kathryn. You totally nailed it. And those photos…just shot on the fly…truly warm my heart and make me teary-eyed because you can see, not only the tremendous love in what may have seemed slightly mundane at the time, but you can also feel love lived out in the day to day. Those are the moments that slip away perhaps unnoticed if not for the “snapshot”. Those are the moments that show us over and over the joy in the journey of a life well lived and the love that is eternal.

    • Reply Kathryn April 19, 2017 at 11:15 am

      Cheri! Thank you so much for sharing. This was so beautiful to read, and I am always so grateful for feedback. I hope to hug you soon!

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