by Skip Cohen
My post yesterday about giving back outside of photography deserves a further explanation. Actually it doesn't require anything at all, but as my readers you've all become a BIG extension of my family. You give me suggestions on new posts and you inspire so many us to keep looking for new projects and ways to raise the bar on the quality, not just of the images being produced, but of our businesses and lives.
So, while I don't owe anybody a further explanation, it seems like this post, which is an encore, hits a little more direct on the personal challenge of Alzheimer's in my family. I first ran this post almost three years ago. At that time I was living in Ohio and coming down to Sarasota 3-4 times a year to visit my folks.
Today my Dad is 90 and has been married to his "best girl" for 66 years. While Alzheimer's has robbed my folks of so many memories, there are still moments to be cherished and this was one of them.
So often a scene unfolds in front of us and we’re caught without a camera. So, what do you do? You can’t just walk away. The only thing you can shoot is a neurochrome.
Neurochromes are pure memories occupying every little corner of your brain. They’re permanent memory “chips” not affected by any manufacturer. They have unlimited capacity. They’re never on back-order and they’re always free. You’ve got unlimited inventory, but you have to stay alert or, just like a wedding photographer who’s not paying attention, you’ll miss the moment.
I spent three days with my folks last week. They’re in their eighties and my mother has fairly advanced Alzheimer’s. The moments when the “sun peaks out from behind the clouds” so you can have a conversation, are happening less and less. My mom and dad have been married for almost 64 years and through that entire time, they’ve been each other’s very best friends.
The other night we watched a little TV and like so many previous trips I had fun “tucking them in”. As I shut off the light I noticed they were holding hands. It wasn’t just a couple holding hands, it was my dad saying, “Don’t worry I’m here!” as my mother replied, “I know. If you let go I’m lost!” There were no words spoken between them, they just held hands, smiling and said good night.
No camera, no film – I could only shoot a neurochrome. But the image of the two of them, like a Hollywood scene of a lifeboat on rocky seas, hanging on and supporting each other without a single word ever spoken, left an image for me to cherish. The image was so strong, that in spite of people who will tell me this is an inappropriate post for a photography blog, I wanted to share it with you anyway.
As photographers you’re trained to capture memories. Your entire business model is about seeing those moments your clients might miss. Everything you do with a camera in your hands is about being somebody else’s eyes. It’s an incredible responsibility because neurochromes, while some have been known to stay vivid forever, most eventually fade. However, as photographers your images don’t need to disappear as long as you never compromise on the quality and effort you put into capturing and producing them.
I’ve got this wonderful vision of dad and mom holding hands and the expressions on both their faces. It’s a neurochrome and only mine to view. Do I wish I had a photograph of them holding hands? Absolutely, but there isn’t a camera on the planet that could have captured what I witnessed!