Guest Post & Photo by Skip CohenFollow Skip on Twitter

It was a little over a year ago my wife and I made the decision to move to Sarasota and almost exactly a year since the actual move. We moved down here because we were at a point in our lives when we could. At my age there aren’t many people who still have their parents around, let alone like them. My wife was able to leave her job and supported the idea of being closer to my folks to give them a hand. Dad’s coming up on 90 and my mother’s Alzheimer’s is a lot to deal with. The housing market was soft down here and we were renting in Ohio. It was easy to make the change. Like so many of you as full time photographers, my “gear” could go anywhere as long as I had access to cyber space.

Over the past year we’ve shot thousands of “neurochromes”. I’ve had priceless moments of just hanging out with my Dad. We’ve had smiles, tears, laughter – every emotion and not a camera around. Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease, but every now and then we get these moments of brilliance and the sun peeks from behind the clouds. My mother smiles, looks at us and shares something incredibly poignant. There’s no camera to capture the memories, so I shoot “neurochromes” and file them in my “special moments” folder in my brain.

We’re coming up to holiday time, and no matter what you believe in or what holidays you celebrate, over the next few months will be a time of family, a time for creating memories. There will be moments you’ll need to appreciate rather than photograph. You might be tempted to grab a camera, but even with a camera in your hand, you’ll miss the shot. My only point today is, don’t worry about it.

As photographers you’re the master story-tellers. As buddy Scott Bourne put it, you’re the High Priests of Memory Protection. Remember to take the time over the next few months to smell the roses in your own yard. Take the time to really appreciate everything in your life. Take the time to shoot a few “neurochromes”!

April, 2011: 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 neurochromeand 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!

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