Elijah Bates: A Tribute

It was almost a year ago that we first talked about it.

At a birthday party for a friend, Tamara approached me and asked if I did Photoshop work on pictures that someone else had taken. I told her that I did, depending on the circumstance. Then she asked if I did photo slideshows. I responded yes to that as well.

That’s when she asked me. Would I on work on pictures and produce a slideshow of her son Elijah, wh0 had been stillborn almost a year before? At the time, I didn’t give it a second thought. Of course I would. I was honored (and still am) that she would ask me to take on a project that was obviously so precious to their entire family.

For those that don’t know the background, Tamara shared the story of the past two years or so of their life on the blog a while back. It has been a difficult time for them to say the least and as Tamara and I talked that night, she said that she and Gary felt like enough time had passed they were ready for this project to be done. We agreed to talk more soon.

Several months passed, and when we had our mini-session day at UT Gardens in the spring, Tamara and Gary decided to have shots done of the family, the first since Elijah’s passing. At that point, we began to map out Elijah’s slideshow and met again not long after to make the final plans.

When the time came for me to begin work, though, it was much more difficult than I thought it would be. Every photo of  Elijah that I opened to edit was yet another emotional punch in the gut. This was not my child, but I could not help putting myself into the place of Gary and Tamara and getting a taste, however small, of their grief. I imagined what it would have been like had we experienced this tragedy with our son Grant, and, quite frankly, it rocked my world.

Most of the slideshows that I do for shoots are not done by hand. There are a couple of companies that I use which have automated systems that produce them. I can tweak the shows if I need to, but it’s much more efficient for me to outsource the shows to them than it is for me to do them myself.

I knew that I would not be able to do that with this one. It was too important. So I custom designed the background and the type; inserted,  arranged and rearranged every image; hand coded every movement and transition. I rendered it at least a half a dozen times in order to get everything timed as closely to the music as I could.

Which, incidentally, is by the Christian group Selah. One of the members of the group lost a baby girl and the group produced the song as a tribute to her. But words to the song refer to her gender and even though a boy version had been cut, we had trouble finding it at first, so I produced everything to the original girl version. The boy version, once we got it, was just slightly different, so I had to re-edit it again to make everything work. It consumed so much of me that it was a big part of the reason that I went almost two weeks without blogging.

It was labor, for sure, but it was a labor of love. I probably spent much more time on it than I should have, but it was cathartic for me, in a way. I was reminded that even though I have never lost a child and never want to, that God is in control. We don’t understand why things happen they way they do sometimes, but Isaiah 55:8 tells us “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.” There is great comfort that we can take from that.

So, thanks, again, Gary and Tamara, for allowing me the honor of producing this video of your precious son. May it help keep the memory of him in your hearts always.

Filled Under : Babies , Personal , Philosophy , Photography

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