My good friend dropped by our house yesterday to catch up for a bit. As we were chatting, her eyes kept meandering to this framed piece I have in my house of my parents:

She apologized for getting distracted from our conversation and commented on how much she loved the piece. Always happy to talk about photography, I told her about how much it meant to me to get that shot.

My mother was told at the age of 18 that she shouldn’t smile for photographs, that it just didn’t look good. To this day, she rarely ever does. You lift a camera in her directions, and she automatically “blanks”, lifting her chin slightly and holding back on all the feeling you could see in her before you pointed a lens in her direction.

Because I know this, I will go to great lengths to elicit a natural smile from her. I felt triumphant when I captured this image a few months ago, and I was so taken with the feel of it that I framed a large portrait in my home and made additional prints for my brothers for Christmas.

It wasn’t until this morning, however, that I had another thought about that conversation I’d had with my friend. I saw her face so clearly in my mind when she was looking at the piece, and I realized that what I saw was wistfulness.

Then I remembered that her father had passed on and there is a very good chance that she does not an image of her parents like this. And I was struck by how I’d missed a great opportunity to ask a dear friend about the man she misses so much, an opportunity to talk about the memories she has of them together.

I am sorry that I missed that chance, but I will be reaching out today to hopefully get it back … or at least start a new conversation.