Never Underestimate The Importance Of A Picture

I’ve done a lot of thinking over the past several days about photography.   Not so much the technical aspects of how to take a better outdoors picture, just simply the importance of taking more, everyday pictures while spending time outdoors with family and friends.

One of the truly great photographers and teachers I admire posted a blog several days ago that I encourage you to read.   His name is Scott Bourne and the subject he wrote about was Indycar driver, Dan Wheldon, who as you might know lost his life in a tragic accident last Sunday at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.   Just minutes before Wheldon stepped into his race car Bourne snapped one of the last images ever to be taken of the young 33 y/o driver.   It’s a moving blog piece…read it HERE.

Now, you might say, Jim…that’s tragic and sad, but race car drivers have danger and death as an inherent part of what they do.   How is all this important to those of us who are sportsmen?

Well, I’m here to tell you that those pictures you take in deer camp or at the fishing lodge have very much the same importance and power as any other picture.   The fact is nobody cheats death forever and the older you become the more you begin to realize how pictures have a very powerful and profound meaning that enhances your past memories.

I’ll give you a few examples.


Both of the guys holding their respective bucks in this picture have passed on to higher hunting grounds.   Howard (L) passed away from Leukemia about 15 years ago and Gary (R) lost his battle to Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) back in 2005.   This picture shows a happy memory of deer they shot just minutes apart a hundred yards or so away from each other.


Here’s a picture of Dave holding a nice walleye.   This picture was snapped almost 7 years to the day before he passed away from cancer earlier this spring.


Here’s a picture of Greg taking a nap after an early morning deer hunt…several years after this photo Greg would die tragically in an ATV accident.


In this light-hearted moment back in 1992, both Rich (L) and Bill (R) struggle over an antelope they both claim is theirs due to the fact they both shot simultaneously.   About a decade later, Bill suffered a massive heart attack and passed away.

As I peruse my albums of photos I see pictures of Jack who shared my passion for the outdoors, images of Cousin Jim who taught me how to shoot, as well as Uncle Herman who taught me to appreciate our natural world and give back through conservation—each of whom are no longer living.

I could go on an on, in fact, it’s not even just about the people.   I look back and see many pictures of canine hunting partners that are sorely missed.   Even these pictures are priceless.

The point is pictures play a vital role in our memory making process.   Some of the pictures I’ve posted here are up to 30 years old and were taken as slides then eventually scanned for digital purposes.   Sure, I wish the quality was up to today’s standards, but even today when I look at the picture of Rich and Bill above I can still smell the pungent, distinct odor of sagebrush and fondly remember that day.   It’s funny how the mind works.

As you’re out and about this fall I hope you remember to take your camera with and to take plenty of photos—even if they seem insignificant at the moment.   Truth is, you never know when that otherwise uninspiring photo of Pete sitting in the duck blind takes on a whole different meaning after his passing.

©2011 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.