Capturing images and moments in time for years to come

  • Written by Claudia Parker


The Dr. Seuss book, ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’ rang loudly in my head this weekend. Friday, my Nikon placed me in the heart of Chicago to capture a senior prom sendoff. The eyes at the door danced with delight every time the prom princess pushed it open for her guests. Their astonishment at her transformation was evident by their dropped jaws and misty eyes. No longer the little girl they once knew, before them stood a beautiful woman.  

Saturday, I traveled to Lake Forest to shoot a surprise birthday party for a woman I believed to be 70 years old. I learned of my ignorance after hearing her spouse gush about their 67 years of marriage. My estimation was way off -- she’s 88!

I fogged up my camera eyecup a few times as I listened to the various voices express the impact she’s had on their lives. The room was filled to capacity. Her loved ones went through great lengths to make the occasion memorable. Their attention to detail was unmatched. Her family’s attire was color coordinated with hers and the party décor. Each table had floral centerpieces made of framed photo vases with pictures of her at numerous stages. I especially loved the two-foot, inedible cake, filled with rolled currency. Technology allowed those unable to attend the festivities to join via video.

Her grateful heart made it difficult for her to remain composed, “I know my time is short. I’m grateful for this day where I can look at each one of you, and tell you how much I love and appreciate you,” she tearfully expressed.

The only part of that gig I wasn’t fond of was the distance it took to get home. My Sunday venue wasn’t close either. It was a Charis Bible College graduation ceremony in Schererville, Ind. Thank goodness I arrived early. I had to skitter into a Walmart nearby to replace my tripod that I’d left in Lake Forest the day before.

The event crisis on that day was realizing my Speedlight flash batteries were dead, just moments before the surprised birthday recipient was about to enter the dark banquet hall. Being that she was walking up the sidewalk didn’t exactly provide time to run out and buy any. Graciously, the restaurant owner produced the four AA batteries needed. My blood pressure deescalated at the sight of Duracell. I’d been given a specific instruction. “Feel free to use your creativity. However, my MUST HAVE is the element of surprise on her face when she walks through the door,” requested the party host.  

The banquet hall in Schererville had plenty of light, but to keep a photograph of a large group crisp, a steady hand is needed. I was actually a little excited about having left my tripod in Lake Forest once I realized my new one was a 2-in-1 Tripod/Monopod to be used for recording video as well. “Sweet,” I exclaimed as I played around with the panning feature.

I don’t know how other Bible colleges do things but there wasn’t anything normal about this Charis Bible College graduation. We’re talking about some high praise unto God going on. At one point, I forgot I was the hired help. I put my camera on the tripod and started getting my praise on right along with the rest of them. I am not ashamed of the Gospel and I dare not ever let a rock cry out for me. As long as I have breath, I will give honor to God, wherever I am, especially among other believers. It was a glorious celebration to be a part of. A great end to an exciting weekend of photography.

The family I took photos for on Friday were people I’d never met. The woman explained, “A friend gave me your card.”

I recalled the name and realized that this particular client hadn’t even viewed her proofs yet. “Oh yes, I know exactly who you’re speaking of. I’m honored she referred me without having seen the quality of my work,” I told her.

“Yes, she mentioned that,” said the woman. “She told me, ‘I haven’t seen her work, but she’s very professional.”

“Wow,” I thought. “That’s such a great thing to hear.”

How many opportunities are lost to extremely skilled individuals who lacked professionalism? We must be mindful of our interactions with people at all times. This particular new client is highly affluent and personally connected to the most powerful people in the United States. An opportunity I gained by a decision to reflect a positive countenance.

I’m happy to serve in the areas God has gifted me. Photography allows me the opportunity to freeze experiences for generations to come and it brings me great joy.

As we approach Memorial Day, many of us have plans to acknowledge those who’ve passed on before us. We either honor or dishonor the legacy of our lost loved ones with the lives that we lead. Many of us still have an open wound from their Heavenly ascent. Nothing brings me more satisfaction than knowing that because God sent His Son, we’ll be granted access to them again. So, until then, let’s impress them with our lifestyle. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, which is in heaven.”

I don't need Dr. Seuss to tell me where we might end up. If we don’t know, there's a Bible for that!

Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author and runner whose columns appear in The Reporter the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.