Ever since I was in my teens and really got into photography, it wasn't about me or the "money". It was about creating memories and making others happy. As I've grown to be an award-winning wedding photographer, again, I'm still the same. I'm all about creating memories and telling a story.
About two years ago I started a very special addition to my business. I named it Forever Memories. I dedicated this to terminally ill family members, pets on their final days and children/babies. I do not charge for this. Why? Because everyone should be able to have memories of their loved one(s) even if they've been in their life forever or just a couple days. I often get asked how I put this into my cost of business, that would bore you honestly so I'll keep it short. The sessions are short because I don't want to put a burden on what is going on. A few unique snaps and a conversation of what is going on unless they have told me beforehand.
When I first started this, I started with pets. I will never forget it. When I moved down to Dallas, I knew nobody and had to live with my parents until I got my dream job. I lived next to a wonderful couple, they were just about my age. They had a dog, and the wife had had the dog since she was a puppy; her husband had surprised her with it. The dog's name was Izzy. She was the sweetest, most adorable dog in the world. I remember looking through the fence when I knew she was out, and I would say 'hi'. I could hear her crying so sometimes I would go over there and pet her. We let her come over a lot and "chill" in the pool, that was her favorite.
Years down the road, after they had moved, Izzy started acting a little different. She wasn't herself. She was almost 11. When I heard that they were going to have to put her down because she had cancer, I got off the phone and cried. This dog was there for my mom when I wasn't there, and they were best buds. At the time, I didn't have a dog and now I have two (which I'm terrified of when they will pass!! I've never wanted pets...only had a goldfish that was hard enough). This pup was family to us. I knew what I had to do, and that was start this up. I messaged her mom and told her what to do. I'd get some cheeseburgers and just make her day special. When I went over she was limping and smiling. I already had tears rolling down. I had to be strong though. After capturing some beautiful pictures with her brother, sister, mom & dad and just mom, it was all just her. Detailed pictures of that sweet sugar face, those beautiful eyes and that adorable face. The next day she was let go over to the rainbow bridge and at peace.
Now if you aren't crying already, this may make you cry. As I stated before I work with just about anyone when it comes to these devastating moments. This past December I had one of those moments. I reached out to a woman who said her father wasn't going to be around much longer. I felt awful and offered my services right away. She was blown away and didn't even know what to say. When we met, everyone was ready, and we got some awesome shots.
Boy, her dad was hilarious! Little did I know the cancer was all in his bones and he was hurting badly..but you'd never know because he had a smile on his face the whole time. Here he was standing up, tickling his 10 grandkids and acting like life was amazing. The last photo I took, I told him "look at your wife like the first day you did when you said I do". Immediately, the wife started to cry, and we finished the session. I was told later that he ended up crying saying he's never met someone who was so passionate and wanted to take a photo like that. Four days later, he was put in hospice...three days later he passed.
This was truly one of the hardest sessions that I have ever done. However, this is what makes it worth it to me, this is what makes my career worth it. Doing whatever I can to make people happy.
Coming up at the end of the month, I have a good friend who has been battling brain cancer. She has been kicking its butt... new tumors pop up...she gets them taken care of. I have never seen someone fight so hard. She was approached by Make A Wish. Now you know Make A Wish will truly do everything in their power to make your dreams come true. I come to find out that she asked Make A Wish to fly her down to Dallas so I could take her pictures. I didn't even know what to say, I just had a tear roll down my face because that was incredible. These will be memories her sons will always remember. I am beyond thrilled she is coming down here and cannot wait to show these when the time comes.
Now you know a little bit about why my business is so special to me and why I value what I do. You only live once, make it count.
Owner/Photographer HM Photography & Design