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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

When I was born October 16, 2002, there was one camera from a family member in the hospital. It belonged to my grandpa.

Those photos now live on disks and in an era where most computers no longer have a disk player, they hardly exist. Technology has changed drastically in the past twenty years and I feel like that’s a privilege we do not always think about.

I grew up with a camera in my face. My mom got a camera shortly after I was born, desperate to be able to hold on to the memory of what I looked like for the rest of her life.

Because of this, I have countless books filled to the brim with photographs from when I was born until about the age of seven.

I have photos with relatives I do not even remember meeting because I was so young when they passed. It’s an absurd privilege that I’ll be able to show my children photos of their great-great grandfather, even though he passed when I was about two years old.

Original photo by Madeline Haller

One of my biggest regrets in my short 20 years of life is not taking more photos with my family members growing up. My grandpa passed when I was 16 years old, and as I was going through photos, I was heartbroken over the fact I didn’t have many recent photos with him.

At 16, my plan was to go to college in New Jersey, where he lived, so I could be closer to him. I wanted to bridge that physical distance, but I didn’t expect to lose him so young.

I would be older, I would be wiser, we would get lots of photos together. I would record his voice, the way my grandma has a record of her father’s voice.

But life laughed at my plans. I always assumed there would be more time, another time, and then I was hit with the hard reality of how limited time can be.

Since that moment, I wanted to be more intentional with taking photos. My mom has the same tendency that my grandpa did to stand behind the camera and take the photos. I bought a tripod so my mom and I could get nice photos of us together.

I used that same tripod to get family photos for my high school graduation. Any time we go out as a family, if I don’t have my tripod, a selfie is being taken.

I didn’t realize the importance of getting family out from behind the camera and into photos until it was too late.

Madeline and family
Original photo by Madeline Haller

In addition to taking more photos of my own family, I’ve become a lot more forward in public too.

This past spring, a mom was taking photos of her daughter in a cap and gown. I asked if they wanted a photo together, and after a minute of assuring that it was no problem, I took some of the mom and daughter together.

They were both so thankful, and that is absolutely something that will mean the world to them later down the line.

Any time I see a mom behind a camera and her husband posing with their kids, I make sure to ask if the mom wants me to take some photos. Most of the time it’s a yes, and I know those are going to be photos that are treasured.

This summer a mom and daughter were taking selfies in front of the Barbie display at the movies. I asked if they wanted some together, and after a few seconds, they agreed and thanked me profusely.

Taking photos of others is such a small act of kindness, but when no day is promised, it could end up meaning so much.

Photos are a privilege. Time is a privilege. Unlimited opportunities to take photos of things that are meaningful to you should not be wasted.

No matter how many photos you have, I promise one day you’ll wish you had more.

Madeline (she/her) is a second-year at Penn State studying Psychology and Labor and Human Resources from Bangor, Pennsylvania. In her spare time, she’s either reading or taking photos.