I photographed a birthday this summer. It wasn’t a smash-the-cake toddler style party, but there were streamers and balloons. My client is a 90 year old man named Roy and his whole family joined from across two provinces to celebrate with him. Some hadn’t seen each other in years, as is known to happen with families. There were three generations who toasted him as he blew out his candles sitting in a cozy lawn chair on a 30+ degree day.
Some of his friends stopped by too, a few nearly as old as Roy. The littlest children did gymnastic cartwheels on the green grass while the oldest spoke of travel and work from years ago. One man told the story of how he worked in South America in his 60’s building bridges. He said he didn’t feel old then. Another spoke of how they’ve been friends with Roy for decades. Imagine maintaining a relationship for decades! Who in your life right now will be showing up for your 90th birthday? Assuming some of us even see our 90th. Some of us may not even strive for that achievement. Living longer means a longer amount of living. There are joys with the birth of every new grandchild, and there is heartache with each passing funeral. And a bit of a roller coaster in between. Roy’s wife died many years ago, there were family members that hadn’t seen him since her funeral. At 90 years old, everyone knew there might not be another birthday. Perhaps even Roy himself knows, although I didn’t ask. That thought didn’t stop the party from being joyous. The food prepared was extensive and delicious, the hot day forced people to huddle in shady areas together.
Roy and one of his daughters decided they wanted to have a photographer there who could capture the significance of that family reunion. Although the rest of the family wasn’t aware at the time, the real objective was for me to take photos meant for albums that would be gifted to everyone at Christmas. The kindness of that gesture alone is already special. Further yet though, what has stuck with me most, is that by commissioning custom photographic albums, Roy is giving his children and grandchildren the gift of memories. And for a man who is losing his own to Alzeimers, the beauty of his birthday did not go unnoticed by me. I took great pleasure is making albums for Roy’s family and hope these photos maintain his legacy with tears in your eyes and great big smile to go with it.