My fascination with cameras has never been just with their ability to freeze snapshots in time. Rather, the reason I love photography is because it allows me to grab hold of a moment, to make a memory tangible, and then hang it on the wall so that I can cherish it forever.

These past few months have been full of ups and downs for our family. And these recent events have underscored for me the importance of photography in all of our lives.

In early September we lost our 10 year-old dog, Cookie, to cancer. It was sudden. The news was unexpected. And it broke our hearts.

Cookie meant the world to me.  Aside from my wife she was my best friend in all the world. And in many ways, Cookie’s presence defined the first decade of our marriage.  We went everywhere together—whether it was a trip to the store or a lengthy backpacking trip in the mountains.  She loved life, and we loved her.  She was our baby girl before my wife and I ever thought we would have a baby girl.

But now my beloved pup is gone. And while today I can still remember vividly what it was like to rub her soft ears through my fingers, the feeling of her licking my face in the morning, and her warmth as she snuggled with me under the covers; Tomorrow those memories will begin to fade.

And what will be left are the photographs I took while she was still by my side. These images will be with me forever.

Then, about a week after Cookie left us, our daughter Kiana had her first birthday. This filled the latter part of the month with an entirely different set of emotions. Our baby girl has brought more joy to my life than I ever thought possible.  And while it was about a year ago that I officially became a father, it was somewhere later along the journey of these past twelve months that I truly discovered what it means to be a “Dad.”

And like with Cookie, I have found that my memories are fleeting. As Kiana grows, it’s easy to forget how small she was that first day we brought her home. How much she loved that stuffed giraffe. The look on her face when she took that first spoon full of yogurt. And all the moments in between.

Suffice it to say, I have taken A LOT of photographs of Kiana. Some were taken with deliberate intent in my studio; Many others with my cell phone in a haphazard effort to capture some special moment.  Some have been printed on canvas; Others hang framed in the baby’s nursery. And hundreds more have found homes, printed in books or placed in the albums that decorate our living room.

I have—with neither shame nor regret—enthusiatically accepted the responsibility of documenting Kiana’s first years in a fashion that is as complete and tangible as possible. And for this, someday, I believe that my grandchildren will be immeasurably grateful.