It’s that time of year when the much anticipated John Lewis Christmas advert has been unveiled and personally I love all this stuff. What has this got to do with me as a photographer and more importantly, what has it got to do with you as a mum, or dad, a family, a business owner, or a bride or groom to be?
So here is the advert:
The message at the end is the bit for me.
“Some gifts are more than just a gift”
The whole concept of what you may become in life and what may influence that is intriguing isn’t it. I’ve photographed many a little wannabe footballer, or dancer. Captured many children with their favourite toys and t shirts of the bands they love. Some of the children I see grow up and some I wonder about who they may have turned out to be.
There is so much pressure now on what toys to buy children. Should they be pink and blue? Should they be gender orientated? For me, I remember the toys that allowed me to use my imagination and be creative and either that was always in me, or it influenced all my careers in life. Lego allowed me to use my imagination. Fashion wheel allowed me to create a newspaper with stories. Who knows if this led me down a path or not. I mean I remember being delighted by a keyboard and also a Commodore 64, but I ain’t exactly musical, or running Apple.
The link with this advert and photography for me is, (yes I say it a lot) the memories and capturing those. You never know when you might need to dig out that photo of your kids playing the drums, or a sneaky phone pic of them colouring in quietly. Childhood photos always appear at weddings pegged on string as decorations. The same goes for when you look back at photos of your grandparents and think, “Wow they were young and trendy once and had really cool hobbies!” So why do we stop photographing them as adults? They’re the same cool people inside. Just imagine if your LinkedIn profile picture, even if just for a short while, was a childhood photo that showed you were always destined to be that lady engineer. How brilliant would that be. Business profiles like this would be way more fun.
I know people get tetchy about Christmas marketing and the whole concept, but for me this advert holds more than that. As we see Elton John at the age he is now and then take a look back at his career, I am reminded that what we term as ‘old people’, used to be young and energetic enough to leap on to a piano once. I see photos of my mum all dressed up in London and am reminded that’s who I get my love of fashion off. I see in the advert, the Christmas house party and am reminded of parties with my family and would love photos of those now. Photos of us doing the conga in the street near my Aunty Edna’s. We have a photo of dad eating Christmas trifle that makes us smile at the memories of him. I see in the advert the pride of a mother at a school concert. Imagine if that had been captured as you watched your children doing things that make you proud. Priceless! Most of all I see that giddy excitement of a child running down the stairs after Father Christmas has been. For many, many kids, it is not about the big expensive present, it is about the magic of the surprise.
So do capture all the memories along the way. The smile of dad as he lets go of the bike your child is riding for the first time. The hugs that grandma gives. Even the mess of the play dough they have smeared across your dining table – because one day, you may just be digging out that photo as they win the Turner Prize for conceptual art.
Finally remember the lyrics of the song to this advert for those you love.
“How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.”