Julie Lindstrom got her first camera in fifth grade and she’s been passionate about photos ever since. “My father died when he was just 35,” she explains. “Not having many photos of him has always made me really aware of how important it is to take, keep and celebrate those pictures.”
She’s always loved taking pictures … she’s just never been all that great at it. “I’m not terrible,” laughs Julie. “Just nothing special. I point. I shoot.”
So a few years ago when her nephew Wiley started showing her some of his photos, she had a wake-up moment. “Wiley had taken all these exciting, engaging, amazing pictures. So much more dramatic than mine. And when I questioned him about it, he told me something I’ll never forget. He said, ‘You’ve gotta get off of that green square.’ ”
Now, what Wiley meant was that she needed to switch her camera off the auto setting and start experimenting. And, to a degree, she did. “He inspired me to take a photography class and I learned a lot. Though I’m still not great.”
But beyond that, Wiley’s advice has reminded her how important it is to take control and live a life with meaning, with excitement and with purpose.
As Julie tells it, “Wiley’s an inspiration. Top 3 percent of his class, wrestling, marching band, swimming, playing drums, active in church… He’s the kind of kid who would smuggle a 10-pound bag of suckers into his bag for a church mission trip. Then he’d pull it out with a smile and say, ‘Let’s go make some kids happy.’ ”
He travelled the world with his family. He was well on his way toward his pilot’s license. He was accepted to Arizona State University… And he died last summer in a tragic fall, taking a picture of a waterfall in Hawaii while vacationing with his father.
Eighteen years is a very short life. But Wiley packed a lot into that time. And he had an aunt who understood the importance of capturing and celebrating the time we have. Julie had already prepared a big, beautiful StoryBook photo book project for Wiley’s high school graduation. After he died, she was able to quickly revise it and add even more pages before printing the StoryBook as a gift for Wiley’s father.
“When I made the book for Wiley, it was supposed to be for him to enjoy, not be part of his funeral,” says Julie. “But I’m so glad I did it, because it was able to tell the all-too-short story of his life.”
“And when I look at it, I see all the places he went and the things he did and the people he touched.” And none of those things happened on the green square.
What's YOUR story? Email us at MyStory@creativememories.com.