It's a beautiful Saturday and I'm going through every photo album and digital photo I own. What started out as me looking for a specific picture of a memory that feels like yesterday has turned into an extensive walk down memory lane. These pictures hold the memories of a life well lived. Of one where more moments have been enjoyed than wasted. I'm looking at the faces of the people who mean the most to me in this world. The faces of friends who have turned to family and been by my side for the better part of 20 years. The faces of friends who have come and gone from my life but played a pivotal role for the time they were there. These photos--these simple snapshots--are the story of my life. Chapters filled with tales that bring tears to my eyes and a smile to my face all at the same time.

I tell you this because it's why I love photography. At least part of it. Pictures bring the past back to life and remind us of the path we have walked. Some of it is good, some of it is not, but it all makes us who we are. Pictures evoke all sorts of emotions. They can make you laugh and cry all at the same time.

I've taken pictures my whole life. Maybe not as obsessively as I do now (digital makes photography a little too easy), but I have albums of my own photos dating back to 1989. I was 9 and had a Kodak Disc camera. I can't say they were masterpieces and the lighting wasn't always ideal, but they were mine and of the things that mattered most to me then.

My senior year of high school is really when you can tell I knew photos mattered. From spirit week to senior week, from homecoming to senior prom, every "last" is there telling the story of my senior year of high school from beginning to end. Senior year does feel like a million years ago. But opening up those albums immediately takes me back. I'm reminded of the high school boyfriend I was nuts about--and our epic breakup; the high of qualifying for the Atlantic Coast Marching Band champions--a first in school history; and the rush of taking the stage for the fall play and spring musical. All the things that mattered; that made me me back then.

Once Upon a Mattress cast - Spring 1998

Of course, the pictures didn't stop there--and they haven't stopped.

The pictures allow me to watch my girls grow again and again. The pictures let me remember my father and tell my girls stories about him even though they aren't able to make their own with him. The pictures let me laugh with my friends when we're together (and apart).

The pictures matter.