Will’s first hair cut

January 17, 2007

As a photographer I sometimes take for granted the impact that a photograph or series of photographs can have on a person or a family.  The following photo shoot took place some time ago, but it wasn’t until recently that these images went from being part of a few thousand others of our son to priceless treasures.  The past few months have changed the way I look at photographing families and children.

A few months ago I was talking with a photographer who specializes in family portraiture.  He believes that a family portrait displayed in the home reinforces to children that they are in a secure and loving home.  I have to admit that I thought that was the sappiest thing I had heard in a while and thought what an interesting marketing angle.  (call me cynical)  Since that time, my tune has changed.

When it was time to take our son for his first hair cut I planned for it to be an event.  It was going to be a guys only thing and Meridith was nervous that he would come back with less hair than she would like, and my Grandmother was distraught that we would cut any hair on his head, and wanted every strand delivered to her in a bag.  I wanted my Grandfather to take Will to his barber shop.  The one he had gone to for years and I wanted to photograph the whole thing.

Will did great and I could tell that my Grandfather had a great deal of pride in showing him off to the old guys at the barber shop, and being part of his first hair cut.  I was really happy with the photos we got and didn’t think much more about them at that point.  This past October 21st, Will celebrated his third birthday and my Grandfather passed away the next day.  It was truly sad, but not unexpected.  It was a blessing that most all of the family was near at that time.

I’m not sure how much Will is going to remember from this time in his life.  I still struggle to remember family members who I knew when I was very young.  Looking through all the photographs I had taken over the last three years it became very apparent that when he looks at these photos in ten, twenty or more years, he will know that he was loved very much by the people close to him and for that, these photographs are now priceless pieces of history.

So often I see photos of kids and families and everyone is well dressed and looking at the camera and of course smiling.  While those are nice and sometimes necessary photographs, to me nice is all they have to offer.  While those photos have their place, it seems to be the photographs of people interacting in ordinary situations that to me provides meaningful insight to who those people are and tells a more compelling story.  Sometimes however, you don’t realize that until later in life.

5 Responses to “Will’s first hair cut”

  1. Tina said

    James,
    He is the cutest thing ever! That is such a gift to be able to capture all of these small events that ultimately are the things he will remember and cherish about his life…

    Great job!
    Tina

  2. amber said

    This is an incredibly touching story! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Amazing images.

    amber

  3. lindsey said

    these photos are so special. your son will cherish them.

  4. Nikki said

    Those are such amazing and special images! Thanks for sharing your thoughts;I really enjoyed reading the story.

  5. Debbie said

    These images brought a tear to my eye. Not just because of the precious memories (my son is about to turn 19 and I remember the day he got his first hair-cut) but also because your photography makes mine look so amateurish. I think I’ll go and sell all my camera gear now.
    Seriously though, thanks for the inspiration.

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