Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What do you VALUE???

I’d like to talk about value, particularly the value of an art that I
hold near and dear to my heart: the art of photography. Yes, there is
the old adage that art is priceless, but when you’re running a
business like I am, one can’t help but having to place a value on the
finished product—or else what I do would merely be a hobby and nothing
more. Fortunately, I love what I do and every day I am thankful that I
get to spend my days photographing beautiful children, lovely
brides and happy families, but still, the question remains: what is
all of that worth?

I guess the real question is what is that photograph on your wall
really worth? What does that album tucked away in a safe place
really worth to you? And your wedding album? Is it something you’d like
to pass on to your children someday? Or maybe you have a box full of
old photos passed on to you like I do that sit in an old shoe box and
from time to time you can’t help but sit down and reflect on the
memories that all of those photos hold. For me, it’s real simple. I
ask myself this question: If there was a fire in my house, and I had
the chance to grab some valuable possessions (assuming my family was already safe),
what would it be?: My box full of albums, family videos and family photos. It’s
really a no-brainer for me.

Yes, I’m a photographer. Yes, this is what
I do for a living, but before I’m a photographer, I’m a mother and
wife and a daughter to my mother, and so on. In that box, is a
lifetime of memories, some of family members that have passed, and
some of memories I want to cherish for the rest of my life, because
let’s face it, as we grow older, our minds grow a little further away
from those memories with each passing year. It’s just the way that
life works, but I know that twenty or thirty years from now, I will
have my albums and endless photographs of my family, ones that I
will pass on to my daughter and my son. And so glad I did put myself in those photos... I doubt Madeleine will ever say." Gosh, Mom.. I wish you were 10 pounds lighter when we took that picture together when I was 4 years old" Highly unlikely.... ones that I’ll be able to sit
back with Chris and glance at the pictures from Tahiti and recall the
time we swam with the sharks in Tahiti or I’ll be able to revisit
Madeleine’s early years when she tasted her first orange and scrunched
up her face, or maybe I’ll be taken back to the time I took Ryder on a
mini-photo shoot around the block and all he could do was flash those
boyish dimples for me every ten steps. It’s all memories for me,
memories preserved in a album or on a wall or in a box. Memories,
that yes, are priceless to me and only to me. Memories that I wouldn’t
trade for the world.

So when we talk about the value of photography, I
often think of it in terms of a product that simply never decreases in
value. It’s the only true thing that I can think of that NEVER
depreciates in value. In fact, its value only increases as the years
pass, because in the end, the further we grow from past memories, the
more dependent we become on those things such as photographs to take
us back and help us to relive the special moments in our lives. I like
to think of photographs as the memories of our lives, and that’s why
I treasure (no, I value my job) so much, because I get to help others
preserve their own special memories.

So, I come back to my original question, and
it’s one that can only be answered by each individual. How much value
do you place on the beautiful moments of your own lives?

let me know your thoughts or comments below. I would like to hear what your most valuable possesions are..The latest ipod, your new coach purse, your plasma TV, the photo of you with your great grandmother or you holding your baby for the first time? Let me know...



jo said...

Gina....perfectly said. The other night as I was driving and listening to this country song about kids growing up...you know...blubbering away at the lyrics and I thought about my kids and how I don't want them to grow up. I want to freeze time! Ok...now I am crying. The only thing I could think of was all the photographs I will have of them to remind me of these precious days. Those photos are priceless! Again...I am a photographer so of course I value the art just like you but I think any mother, grandmother, father...how can they not view those photographs as priceless!

Letti said...

For me the thing that I most value is time. It seems that the older I get the faster it goes. When I was younger it seemed like my birthday took forever to come around and now it comes too fast. I wish I could just slow time down. My youngest is almost 2 but it feels like I just had him. I value the time we spend together as a family. I love being a Mom to 5 kids and nobody can take that away from me. I also think that photos are priceless. I love looking at photos of my childhood. There are so many things that I would have forgotten if someone would have not snapped a picture of teh moment. What you are doing Gina is not just taking photographs but you are making peoples memories.

Daniel, Emily, Olivia, and the critters said...

You've made me think, G - and it is way past my bed time! My thoughts: a Coach purse is simply that...a Coach purse. It may contain your keys, your wallet, a cell phone...but in terms of true value, it is as empty as it was on the shelf when you bought it. Somewhat like a house...take out the people, the laughter, the memories made every day inside those walls; although a house is a material possession with great financial value, it is also empty in terms of true, deep value. Things like purses and houses can come and go, can be replaced, but there is no replacing the people you have in your life that make your heart skip a beat, that bring a smile to your face even when they are being a little Miss Cranky Pants, that make this thing called life worth living. So although I have a Coach purse, and a decent house, and frankly a lot of other "stuff," that's all it is...just plain stuff. But at the end of the day, what I value most is the love that I am able to share with the two most precious beings that are irreplaceable and complete me in so many ways - my husband and my daughter. They literally breathe life into me, and every moment I am able to spend with them is something I treasure. Which is why we have chosen to come to you...each moment we have with one another, especially our young daughter, is so special and unique. Therefore, we feel the need to preserve her image and capture the beauty of the course of her life in a means that can withstand the tests of time...and there is no better way to document this for generations to come than through photos. Every morning, as Olivia lies sleeping, I see the images you have taken of her hanging on the wall before I head out the door and off to work...and the feeling I have when I look at them is priceless. Then I work, and until I see her actual smiling little face again that afternoon, there is nothing during my day that can even remotely come close to creating the same reaction, the same blissful feelings I had when I looked at her little face that morning in her pictures. So, to make a long story short, there is no placing a price on something you value, which I think to most is ultimately their family. And there is no better way to keepskae each period of time you have with your loved ones than through the art of photography...and there is no one better to do it than you because you capture what we hold dear in our hearts with all of your heart and energy and passion. Okay...going to bed now! Sorry it was so wordy...but you know me... :P

gina lee ~ said...

can I get a wow, wow... I am glad I opened the door up to this topic and I see many view points here, Okay, maybe just three, But three very important points... I am glad all of you see that the most important value in life is.. and that is family, time, and memories...along with all that love...
Jo, I am so glad I met you, you actually inspired me to write on the important topic. When we were talking after our long road trip sitting in the starbucks parking lot, I saw how important those moments were to you with your daughter when she was ill. you touched me, and I remember you telling me about the pictures you will always cherish.. Thank you for that...
Letti, Yes, I agree as well. Time is just as important.. I wish we had more of it, but time goes by so fast, there are not enough hours in the day to do everything that I want to do.. I see in every one of your post how important your children are and it reflects in your pictures and in your writings, so thank you for sharing all of that with us...
Emily, my new dear friend( and walking buddy)... Yes, I must admit, i do have a coach purse, many at that. i just wish I had enough money in it everyday to account on how much i paid for them( well, my husband paid for it) Ha!
But you are right, it is just "stuff". Thank you for embracing the art of photography, because I know you do cherish your photos and know how valuable they are to you and Daniel and how much more valuable they will be when she is all grown up. Your litte girl will soon be not so little and I am so glad I get to be the one to document her big spirit and those beautiful glass marble eyes..:) and she grows. ( hopefully, I do) ;)
Thanks for all your comments, I wanted to open the converstaion up to see what all of your thoughts would be..
Thanks ladies...
anyone else want to share in this topic????

MiCHeLLe said...

Well, I value my Coach purses - both of them. And my Kate Spade purses. And my Fossil purse.

They mean something to me and to the people who put so much thought into picking them out and giving them to me.

I will never forget the joy on my mom and dad's faces when I opened their gift. We struggled a lot as a young family and they worked really hard to get to the point where they could give me something that meant so much to them to give. And, everytime they see me with it, they smile. So, I definitely value my Coach purse...not because it is a Coach purse, but because it was given to me.

I'm not trying to de-value time or photos, because those are definitely MUCH MORE valuable to me than my Coach purse. But, I think it is important to remember that there are other "things" that represent memories, and that those memories are important too.

My grandparents only recently finished rebuilding their home after they lost the one they'd lived in for 25 years in the Old Fire. They lost a lot of "things", but those "things" had meaning beyond their retail value. And it was still hard, even though they were "things".

marie said...

Hi Gina,

It was great finally meeting you and getting to know you better:-) I don't know if I shared this with the group or not, but I actually did have a house fire and aside from our file cabinet (it was small in those days!) , I grabbed my photo albums. Other than our wedding album, most of the pictures were taken by "non-professionals" but I love them just the same. They are like old friends and serve as witness to my life. I can't tell you how many times I look at them and recall a moment that would have otherwise been lost in the business of life...moments you swear you would never forget, but do anyway. When people cry when they see our images (hopefully a happy cry!), that is the moment that I think I live for as far as my photography goes, to bring someone joy that will last a lifetime....how cool is that?? Well said, my dear. Can't wait to see get to know you better:-)


Daniel, Emily, Olivia, and the critters said...

In response to Michelle's comment...

I agree with you in saying that "things" have special value as well. My Coach purses symbolize the hard work my husband and I put into going to and paying our way through school. Therefore, upon completing college, we were able to attain good jobs. We are able to buy me Coach purses, etc. because we have persevered through adversity and challenges that come with being a young couple that is now a family making it financially work in southern California...so yes, my Coach purses do have a value. However, I think value can be such an ambiguous term, because it is not to say that I don't value the fact that I am able to afford and have these things...they just aren't what I hold most dear to my heart. In the back of my mind, I know I can always buy a new purse if it gets dirty or lost or whatever. I guess I just don't look at what I value most as a material possession.
- E

MiCHeLLe said...


I agree.

I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. I can value my things, and I can value my photos. And, ultimately, the intrinsic value of each is the same. I value both for the memories they hold and the times they represent. But, a purse is much easier to replace than a photo, and a photo may bring back a memory more vividly. So, the photos are definitely higher on the list.

And, yes, if you take away the context, the purse is just an empty bag. But, if you take away the context, the picture is just a blank sheet of paper.

In both cases, the context is the whole point, right? So, Gina, I guess that is what I value...CONTEXT.

Michelle said...

Wow Gina, you sure did start a discussion here didn't you.I would have to agree with most of the comments here I think. What is valuable to one person may not be as to another.For me it's the event of the memory or I guess you could call it the feeling of the memory. And I think that's why we love pictures so much is because we can remember the feelings that we had at that moment.The pics of family vacations for example are great , but it was the actual vacation with family that made it so great.So I guess that may be a bit of time like Letti mentioned too. Well I hope I made at least a little sense to someone. :) Love you girl!!

gina lee ~ said...

wow, I sure did, and I love it.. I am so glad that there are so many different points on this subject.. I need to do this more often. and thanks for taking the time to view my blog and my journal. I want to say thanks to all who have commented. I am happy to live in this world that gives us choices and as women to make the choices we make....I brought up the topic of valuable possesions and I can see every person holds value to a different degree...
I wanted to speak on this topic more so just to say that there is value to my work and to the photographs I take and you take. Truth is, I love my handbags (and who knows, maybe one day, I'll even pass one down to Madeleine), and I love taking vacations too, and I love to splurge, but in the end, all I will have are the memories, and I want my children and my children's children and their children to know what kind of life I have lead. For me, it's through my art: photographs.

How about I throw out another question: I'm curious, how do you want your kids to remember you? Or how will they remember you?
I wish I had more documentation of my past years, and regret and always will regret not taking more photos of my immediate family
together. My three brothers and I. My youngest brother died at the ripe age of 18. 18... One day I gave him a ride to work and the next day, he was gone... I will of course cherish those memories we shared together and treasure the times we laughed, but I will also tell my children about their uncle they never had the chance to meet, and as I share my countless memories with them, I can't help but wish I had more pictures of him to share.

I never thought he would die so young. I thought he would be in my wedding. I thought he would take his nephew and niece out and let Uncle spoil them. I thought we had plenty of time to take pictures in the years to come...

With that said... Yes, material possessions are great and financialy rewarding, but I do not hold them to the highest value I do as memories and photos...


Daniel, Emily, Olivia, and the critters said...

One of the most poignant things I have ever seen on television was on Oprah...a story of a little girl whose mother had died from cancer. But this mother, upon being diagnosed, decided to video tape herself as much as she could talking to her daughter on film, sharing family stories with her daughter, talking about "girl stuff" with her daughter that way the little girl, in her teen years, would have be equipped with some motherly wisdom when the time came...it was really touching. When the show aired, the mom had since passed and the father was remarried, but that little girl had grown into a teenager had all these tapes of her mom that she would watch...and be able to see her mother talking, laughing, and at times crying...all very real, very visible emotions for this daughter to hang on to forever. So, in response to the new question of how I want my daughter to remember me...obviously photographs - my daughter at certain ages professionally done by Ms. Gina :) and the home versions of all us doing all sorts of things. Aside from hard copies of photos, we now do home video, we blog (and found out you can turn your blog into a book - COOL!), and another thing I do is I write a lot to my daughter. I take the time to get cards, write her little letters, or jot a note inside the front cover of her books...I tell her things about our life now that I want her to know when she gets older. She has a baby book in which I feverishly record every little feat and every first, and I scrapbook...I guess I am just all about taking memories and creating tangible records for her to hold onto. Reflecting upon my own life, I wish the generations before my own had recorded more; now that I am an adult and can appreciate my heritage/ancestry, the people that came before me cause a sense of wonder since they are a part of my identity and I know very little about them. So, like you Gina, I've decided to take matters into my own hands and change it for our descendants to come, beginning by keepsaking memories from my marriage and the relationship I share with my husband (my best friend), my daughter's life, and what I know of our extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) and friends. I feel as though I am just doing my part in preserving our part of history...and hopefully when my daughter is grown, she appreciates knowing where she's coming from and a bit about the people/things that have shaped her life.

And I too, will probably pass down purses. LOL.

- E :)

gina lee ~ said...

Miss E-
Video is so important as well, I promise to myself that I will be pulling out the video camera much more often. There are times I say to myself, gosh! I wish I had video of this, because those moments are going to be so cool when we look back years from now. Thanks for sharing...
and like yourself, i will be putting my blog in a book as well.
cool stuff