As a photographer, I have met and captured numerous people in different facets of their lives. From a simple headshot, to graduation photos, annual family photos, weddings, holidays and events, ads and creative work. I was asked if I have taken a million photos throughout my career as a photographer. Yes, I have gone over for sure.

John Rak trained me to photograph them as if it were their last professional photo. “The photograph you take might be their last.” Make it count. You only need one good photo.

In the last 3 years, I have photographed 3 people who have passed away. All 3 left a mark in me personally. 

2017: The first one was John Davidson, an Abbotsford Police Officer who was shot 4 days after I photographed him. It was a 10-minute session but I was able to connect with him in the 6-month span of me being in the Department photographing other officers. 

2018: 'Santa Larry’, Larry Tamkin has been New Westminster’s Santa for 45 years at Royal City. The reason why I took the project was to experience what he sees in giving the Christmas vibe to the children. I kept on photographing him and his wife as they sincerely endured the holiday spirit of giving. I went to his Celebration of Life and very much in awe with how much love he has shared to his community.

2020: Seema Sehra, she was the one most dear to me. I enjoyed capturing every laughter and love that she radiates. From all their engagement shoots, to the Wedding Week and some personal shoots after, the connection we've had during our sessions were like such an empowering moment. It filled my heart knowing that I made her feel better about herself - that she is beautiful inside and out. "That laugh, I will miss it my Monkey Model." On July 2nd she posted, “I had never been at peace with my own reflection... until I saw it in your eyes.” - Ranata Suzuki

There were a few more from the events, when I met them in passing. 

Every life that passes… I have these thoughts I’ve shared with John Rak when John Davidson passed…

”It is about the experience and, being able to recreate the person’s image and likeness in a more lasting tangible piece.

I’m fortunate to be able to have met such a great person and honoured that I was able to photograph him when he was at his best. But I think I am luckier to have a mentor who’s taught me what portraiture is all about. I hope I am able to pass this on to the team and encourage them to not only be better but to be more passionate with what we do here. I am aware that yes, this is a business and that we need to keep moving forward, but I’d like to keep the foundation solid as what all this is about, it’s about capturing those moments and giving everyone a good lasting experience.”

And his response:

"I do understand why.

As photographers we do have a very special bond with our portraiture. When something like this happens you are the fortunate one who has been able to share his legacy with all of the viewers.

All of them.

Keep up the great work. 

This is a very rewarding profession."

Thank you, John Rak. I may not be sadly working for you anymore but I have embraced this gift and skill you've honed in me.

Two years later: Remembering Const. John Davidson Beloved Abbotsford Police Department officer’s memory lives on Nov. 6, 2019

Larry Tamkin Larry Tamkin, known to many as Santa Larry, is being mourned by many community members after passing away on March 4. Along with wife Susan (aka Mrs. Claus), he brought joy and happiness to children during the holiday season as Santa.