Earlier this summer, I got to document one of the most important photoshoots of one of the most special couples in my life: my grandparents.
These anniversary photos reaffirmed to me why photography is important, and I’m so excited to share this!
It reminded me of why I had fallen in love with photography in the first place. It’s also why I take my job so seriously. Photography is so important, because you’re capturing sweet moments that you can’t ever get back again.
My grandparents live far away from me in Korea. I hardly ever get to see them, except when they come to visit my family in California. My earliest memories is of living with them in Korea and being showered with love and care. Sadly, we’ve lived so far apart now, separated by distance and for a while, language.
They’re getting older now and I always worried that they’d pass too soon, before I’d have a chance to photograph beautiful memories of them. I also used to worry that I wouldn’t be able to fluently understand the advanced level of Korean they speak in order to understand their stories. Thankfully, I’ve gotten to a point where I can understand their level of Korean to ask deeper and more personal questions about their life.
I was determined that this would be the year that I’d surprise them with anniversary photos. They were so surprised and positively beaming to be the stars of the show.
It was a special and sweet time surprising them with a shoot. It was the full experience – we went shopping together and coordinated their outfits! I did everything from styling to photographing them. (If you need help coordinating outfits for your photo session, I have some ideas and inspiration on my Pinterest board here. I’m very hands-on in helping you plan your outfits!)
It was her first time wearing a long gown, so my grandma was super shy at first. My grandpa got to wear a bow tie for the first time and he loved it so much! He even refused to take it off during dinner after the shoot. They were both so cute and stylish!
When you know you look gooooood, it’s easy for me to channel that excitement and energy! I gave them fun prompts to get some genuine emotions going.
While shooting their anniversary photos, I got to ask more personal questions that I’ve never been able to ask before.
I heard new pieces of their life and story while I photographed them. My grandpa told me about how he won over my grandma in his youth. She had come from a rich family, and her parents disapproved of my grandfather. He was extremely hardworking, but in a very different social class.
Discouraged, he moved on and created a life with someone else. He and his love interest had decided to marry, but she passed away not long after. After this, my grandpa decided to give it his all in pursuing my grandma.
He didn’t want to lose her again.
He persisted until he finally won her hand in marriage. My grandpa made a name for himself in Korea’s educational department as a highly respected advocate. He rose higher than anyone had expected from a small-town school teacher.
He also told me about the time he was voted the nation’s top citizen. It was one of the proudest moments of his life. In front of a large crowd of people, he got to ring a huge bell 13 times.
After hearing my grandparent’s stories, I can see where I get a lot of my personality, tenacity, work ethic, dry humor – and low-key sassiness. It makes me even more proud to be their granddaughter.
After the photoshoot, I showed them the edited photos on a slideshow. I had music lined up, with their favorite oldies played in the background. My grandparents eagerly watched their images flit across the screen and laughed as they watched.
My grandpa was quiet for the most part, so absorbed in seeing both the anniversary shoot and family photos. He’s not a super expressive man. But towards the end, he said to himself so quietly that I almost couldn’t hear him, “This is art…”
I almost cried hearing him say those sweet words of affirmation.
Because I wanted them to have something tangible, I surprised my grandparents with good bye presents. There was a beautiful photo album I designed and some photo frames. I thought it would be nice for them to have something to take back home to Korea. They thanked me profusely as they looked through it in amazement.
Beaming at me, my grandpa said, “This is a treasure.” With twinkling eyes, my grandma looked at me and whispered, “You were meant to be a photographer. May you be a person who always bring blessings and joy onto others through your work.”
I came close to bawling my eyes out. I can’t describe hearing my grandparents approval and support of my photography pursuit. It means the world to me to be able to give those memories to my grandparents.
These anniversary photos were life-giving. My soul felt alive and rejuvenated.
It was one of the most special photoshoots I’ve ever done. Honestly, it will probably always be the one closest to my heart.
Photos trigger memories and nostalgia. It’s a hard pill to swallow but some day, my grandparents won’t be around to physically be with me. But I’ll always have photos to remember them by. I’ll also be able to share their stories with my future children as we look back through the album.
I want to always be a storyteller.
I’ll be telling stories about my grandparents so their legacy lives beyond them.
Having your memories in tangible form will really make you appreciate the photos and experience even more. Holding a physical album and seeing photos of you and your loved ones at home will always trigger happy memories. Photos enable people to live on in memories. No matter how old you are, you’re never too old to be the stars.
Anniversary shoots are so valuable and can bring you and your significant other closer together. Think of it as a fun date or bonding activity with lasting memories you get to hold on to forever.
If you’d like to gift your loved ones with this kind of experience to preserve a certain time in life, reach out to me. Don’t wait too long, let’s get all the happy moments preserved 🙂