Mr. Branch Photography
To Cultivate. To Engage. To Become.


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Twas a long November back in '17

No this is not the date of the entry.  Well ok it does happen to be written in that month and year.  That is the title.  Just a very factual title.  This is a long and life changing month.  For me it has been a personal month and a photographic month.  As both areas of my life have changed.

October left with a crazy series of health issues.  I was out of work for a few weeks.  It took me out until the very end and just a tad into November.  I was at the urologists office having a stent removed on the 1st.   That marked the end of the saga from a physical standpoint.  It changed into a time to heal.

What I did not know is that it was about the first or second that a model whom I just recently photographed just weeks ago had taken her own life.  But I did not find out until well after the fact. 

Just days prior I heard news that another person I knew of just got married and returned form his honeymoon.  He was walking home with this wife and was mugged by kids.  Three 15 year olds and one 13-year-old.  He was shot and killed. In front of his wife.

Then not long ago I found that the bridesmaid from a wedding I photographed a few months back, she died of a heart attack.  The wedding day was the last time that the bride got to see her friend.

That is three deaths in one month.  In November of 2017.

A murder, a suicide, and a heart attack.  Three people who were just there and in a blink of an eye was gone.  I was still getting better on the physical side of things when these events started going down.  That is an emotional drain.  It is saddening.

The gentleman who was gunned down the wedding photographer still had the photos.  I know if that had been me, I would have been messed up and may have needed counseling.   That is a hard situation here it is a client’s life just ended and you have some of the last known photos of them.  On the happiest day of their lives.  Just 9 days before it came to an end.

So what does this all teach me?  So much.  It’s overwhelming emotionally if I am honest about it.  But life is not guaranteed.  It can come and go.  The Lord does indeed give and take away.  What changes is how we engage life behind the camera.

I have held my firm belief that photography is a way to cultivate and engage the person on the other side of the lens, and invite them into our lives and work together.  From the wedding I shot I had no idea it was going to be the last day that the bride would ever get to see her dear friend.    When I was shooting the models at the workshop, I had no idea that she would soon be dead.  What more could have been done? 

Just being the photographer does not mean getting the shot right.  It does but does it really matter?  At the end of the day I can look at these photos and realize that I captured some memories.  Both for me and the clients and models. 

These sad moments of life that came up this month is teaching me to really get out there and to cultivate and engage them. Each moment.  Each person.

Now the crazy lesson here is during the very workshop with the model who took her life, the photographer instructed everyone to not be bossy.  He was telling us that they may be model but they are people too.  Real human beings.  Each with feelings and emotions.  He was going to make sure that no one abused anyone.

And little did we know that one model, was full of heart and life and emotion like everyone else.

With the competition the way it is in the photography market we get so deeply involved with being the best ad cutting out our competition that we forget to be there, present, in the moments for the model and client sitting before us.  We get lost in perfection and product that we forget to be ourselves.

When the shutter stops clicking life still goes on.  I want my work to be great yes.  To be technically accurate.  To be aesthetically pleasing.  To be visually inspiring and a source of encouragement. 

We are connected to each other in ways we can’t imagine.  This is what I want to be show in my work.  It’s not about our “image” of self but being there to cultivate and engage with each other in life and memories that keep on spreading to the next generation and person.

So maybe we should stop being what we want to be (it’s selfish) and stop being nice to one another and start living and be a blessing to each other. 

Sometimes we have to put the camera down and be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Thomas Branch