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October 30, 2011

The Importance of a Photo

Posted in Family
With respect to the Greff family, the accompanying photo has been removed from the website. I would also like to note that the photo of the Greff family has not been sold to the media and it never will be. Please read the story for what it is. I simply wanted to share my story, as it can serve a very important message for all of us.
Tuesday October 25th was the first day with my intern, Laura. We had a newborn photo session lined up late morning in Morinville to start us off. When we arrived we were welcomed at the door by Lindsay and the casually dressed Byron, sporting a ball cap and crested polo shirt. It made sense because Lindsay had invited us over after I searched for a newborn to photograph for my intern, so I just figured that Byron would just sit out while we photographed baby Brielle. I got to work right away getting Brielle comfortable and attempting to ease her into a nice restful sleep while sports highlights could be heard in the background coming from the TV as Byron sat back and relaxed during his well deserved break from his mission in Afghanistan. 
After having some trouble getting Brielle to sleep I said to Lindsay, "I hate to be rude and have to ask this, but would you be able to ask Byron to turn off the television for us?". Byron obliged as he turned the television off and went up stairs to continue watching his program. 
After what seemed to be a good 45 minutes just photographing Brielle, I decided we should go up to the nursery and do a few shots with just mom and her daughter and then call it a wrap. After spending some time photographing mom and Brielle, I don't know why, but I thought to myself that since I have come all the way out here we might as well get dad in the room for one shot. Again - interrupting him from his sports highlights and last moments of relaxation as he was scheduled to be back in Afghanistan in a few days - he agreed and joined his wife and came into the nursery. It didn't help my cause that I asked him to remove his ball cap, and then bluntly telling him that he'll need to go fix his hat hair in the bathroom. He came back, and I rushed through a few shots as quickly as possible to keep the peace between us. Immediately after those final shots Brielle started to cry, and cry loudly! We left Brielle with Dad to take care of business as I packed up my gear and Lindsay saw us to the door. 
A simple newborn shoot turned into a simple family shoot - minus their one other child who was in school that morning. It was a good start. 
Today, Saturday, I was heading out the door and in typical Erik fashion, I was checking my Facebook at the same time. There was a surprising and shocking message waiting for me from the cousin of Lindsay, Julianne. Julianne had passed on the info that I was looking for a newborn to photograph. The instant I began replying to the message, Julianne had called me, and in tears, told me what I had just read in her Facebook message: Byron was killed in a suicide attack in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Just four days after I last saw him. 
I can't even begin to imagine the pain that Lindsay must be going through. It is incomprehensible to me. There are no words. 
This is the first time I have ever fully realized the power of our minds, instincts, and gut feelings. As disinterested as Byron was in having his photo taken, something made me go through the uncomfortable efforts of interrupting him from his sports, taking off his cap, and fixing his hair for just three clicks of the shutter.  
I hope this photo will help - in even just the smallest amount - with the healing process for Lindsay, her two children, and Family.  
My heartfelt condolences go out to Lindsey and her entire family. I do not know them well, I only know them once, but this is one of the saddest moments of my career as a photographer. Let this story teach us all a lesson. 
You can view the full story of the attack here: CTV New Story 
In Remembrance of Byron Greff