Photography’s role in preserving legacy

I am going to start this post with a somewhat sad story, but I will show you how God used that season of life to deepen a beautiful resolve.

Both of my parents passed away when I was in my early twenties. They were literally the best parents ever.  My dad died in an accident and mom shortly thereafter of cancer.  They were too young to move on, being just in their 60s, but we grieved well and have peace about their passing. The part about it that hangs on tight is the realization that my kids will never get to know them.  My daughter, who loves painting, sewing, and everything else my mom loved, will never get to sit with mom to paint, or learn how to quilt.  My other daughter, who is a truly natural musician, will never get to sit with my dad at the piano for a sing-along, or experience adventure with him or go horse-back riding.

I have also come to realize that _I_ was too young for them to have gone.  I was too new at life to realize how important it was to get to know them, appreciate them, learn their stories of childhood, hear about their struggles, hear about their relationships with their parents, with God, with each other…  I was too immersed in selfish living – not out of a place of rebellion or anger – I simply didn’t realize that life wasn’t all about me.  I woke up, tended to my newborn, taught piano lessons, cleaned the house, cooked for my husband, and repeated the whole scenario the next day – completely surrounded by self.  And my parents, in their patience, wisdom, and perspective, never pushed me beyond where I was at.  They simply loved me where I was at.

I learned a lot and grew up fast after they died.  I realized with great pain that I had wasted much of the time I had with them. I never made a point to write down their stories to pass on to MY children and hopefully on and on.  I have a few photos of them, and they are beautiful to me as they preserve who they were, but oh, how I would love to have a purposeful, beautiful, timeless capture of who they were in their last few years.  A photo that captured the joy, peace, and sometimes fun mischief in my dad’s eyes.  A portrait that spoke to the deep, intensely motivated and talented personality of my mom. Pictures are important.  Pictures single-handedly help memories become far more rooted and tangible than you might get regularly.  Pictures represent story – and my parents’ stories were worth knowing and passing down. After all, their story is also part of MY story, which is party of my CHILDRENS’ stories…

Something I have been wrestling with, considering again and again, trying to push down (unsuccessfully) for the past many months is the idea of helping families in need capture a stunning, story-telling portrait of the elders in their lives. The grandmas, grandpas, moms and dads who have children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, that need to remember them with joy, as they are now. I feel I have been challenged, possibly by God (who seems very interested in preserving story), to use what I have learned about photography to help protect and uphold the beautiful identities of their loved ones. I am very interested in preventing others from making the same mistakes that I did.  I want to encourage others to learn, know, and remember the most important people in their lives. I want to help others guard those memories in order to pass them down. I want to help preserve legacy.

The identity of family in today’s American culture seems backward.  Our elders deserve honor, esteem, to be known and cared for, not considered a burden, too difficult, or sometimes irrelevant. Our culture seems to promote such self-oriented purpose that we forget what, and who, is most important. I want to fight this cultural direction, and though I know the impact of just one person will be small.  …maybe it will be big – make a difference – to someone.

What I would like to do to help solve this issue that resonates so deeply with my heart is set up portrait sessions.  I would like to listen to stories and hear your nominations for those in your life (or the life of someone you know) who would richly benefit from a portrait session like this, and who might not otherwise be able to afford a service like this.

If you would like your loved one to be considered, or if you would love to share your portrait and legacy with your children and grandchildren, please email me with your story.  Send a snapshot and story to:

Please note: while family portraits are very important and should be taken regularly, this is not an offer for family portraits, multi-generation portraits, or even couple portraits – even husband and wife.  My passion and sole speciality is to capture the singular expression, depth, and beauty of your loved one or loved ones individually.

I have a studio set-up in my home in Erie, CO, where the portraits will take place, unless your loved one is not very mobile, or can’t go up and down stairs. I am willing to travel, but in some cases, may require a travel fee to help me cover the costs of travel.

I likely won’t be able to accept every request – photography is my form of income and I need room in my schedule for shoots that help me afford my financial responsibilities – but I do want to begin to help how I can.

Thank you for listening to my story and passion. I hope I have stirred something in you, as I wish someone had stirred in me before my parents’ passing.  I look forward to hearing your stories, about your loved ones, and hopefully meeting you soon.

~Eldeen   |

Here is a photo of my mom and dad with my daughter, Aria – I miss them.

These two beautiful souls are the grandparents of my husband, Judd.  I’m so grateful I was about to take these pictures after I began to realize how important this is.  Grandma Munk is still around and kicking!  Grandpa moved on to Heaven about two years after these portraits were taken.

Portraits of elderly


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