I’ve been a photographer since college. First, as a hobbyist, taking photos of my friends on my point-and-shoot Canon camera, to remember the memories we were making.

It wasn’t until about seven years later that I bought my first DSLR. And this opened up a whole new world for me, leading to my first professional DSLR, photographing for clients part-time, and eventually making the jump full-time as a professional photographer.

It’s important to realize your purpose as a photographer. I’ve written about the importance of looking back, and this goes right along with that.

As photographers, it’s our responsibility to remember. Remember the people closest to us, the adventures we have together and the lasting memories — good or bad.

The photographs you take of someone can literally be remembered for a lifetime.

In my case, last month, one of our friends tragically passed away. From the media coverage to the Facebook posts on his wall, there were so many lasting memories of this individual. There were a ton of photographs, courtesy of his friends and family.

As news came out of Jon’s death, I was reminded by a close friend of mine about a simple photograph I took of him — one that was quickly spread to the news stories and was used to remember his life.

I took the photograph at a friend’s wedding. I don’t consider myself a wedding photographer, but this was one of a handful of weddings that I have photographed.

I thought nothing of the photo at the time — it was of Jon taking over for the DJ for a few brief moments — but now, that photograph is so much more powerful. It summarized Jon’s life in a way that was special to his friends and family. And it might very well have been the last professional photograph taken of him.

Photographs Become Others’ Memories

Why do I mention this? As I stated above, it’s our job as photographers to capture the moment. To remember for people.

You might think the photograph you capture at a reunion, corporate event, wedding or otherwise might not be important. After all, in my case, weddings are supposed to be about the bride and groom, right?

But what you might not realize is that regardless of the person, that photograph is a part of their story. It’s because of this that we should try our best to capture everything as if it was the important part of their story — their lasting memory.