get as many snapshots as you canI sat down last night and wanted to make some updates to the blog. I get stuck, like I often do, writing about myself and my philosophy. In fact, I haven’t changed the bio part of my site in years. I get myself all stuck on how seriously I take my job. After all, I know I’m not curing cancer or running the Large Electron-Positron Collider or anything. I take your pictures. That’s what I do. No biggie.

Then I want to tell you.

Then I think to myself that it’s too much information. It’s too sad. It’s weird to share on a public blog and I’m somehow trying to profit off of something tragic. It’s Gracie’s story so much more than mine and I need to be very careful about what I tell and how I tell it.

Then I find a way to write about it and instead of horribly depressing, it sounds flip. I have a wickedly dark sense of humor with a healthy streak of sarcasm. I worry how you will read it. I don’t want to come off like a cold heartless witch. I don’t want to hurt people I love.

So I wait. And I write. And I save unpublished. And I delete. And so goes this cycle.

But today I woke up and realized it was his birthday. It would be his 43rd birthday if he were still with us. And I feel compelled to write about it. Not so that you will feel sorry for us. Not even so that you will find yourself in a mad rush to hire a photographer. But so that you understand a little why I talk about the things I talk about and why sometimes I probably take this job way too seriously.

7 years ago this coming July, I was in Seattle when I got the call that nobody wants to get. David’s car was in an accident and the driver had perished. I didn’t need to wait for a positive I.D.. I knew. I still want to say so badly that he was my husband. But the truth is that our divorce was final about 10 days prior to the call. Our split was (at least on my end) not for a lack of love. Sometimes love just isn’t enough and this was the case with us.

One more disclaimer. I don’t want to sound like the only person who has lost someone they love. If you’re my age, you’ve probably experienced an untimely death. My grief was no easier or more difficult than anyone else’s But it is a unique kind of grief to lose the father of your young child. It’s crazy making to feel like a widow when you officially are not. Grief is a solo trip. No matter how much love and support you have around you, you’re on your own shitty grief train by your lonesome. It doesn’t hurt worse, it just hurts different.

In the interest of keeping Gracie’s story her own, I won’t go into all of the details of how everything went down in the following days. Other than suffice to say, having to break that news to her was by far the most difficult thing I have ever done. I planned to tell her in the morning and yet, I found myself avoiding her. I watched her play with her cousins and be happy and joyful. Seeing her happy all the while knowing that I was about to tell her something that would completely reshape the rest of her little life in the most painful way. It was horrible and I never wish that conversation on anybody.

Gracie and I had taken the trip to Seattle for my dear friend, Elizabeth’s wedding. Elizabeth and I have this weird symbiotic relationship. It seems when one of us is up, the other is down. I can’t think of a more extreme instance than this one. We take care of each other that way. This photograph was taken on the night before we left. He brought over pizza and those weird pizza dough cinnamon rolls for dinner. He read Gracie books, and for whatever reason the light was beautiful and I pulled out my camera. In Gracie’s arms, her “pinky” (pink blanket) and her Papa.

I took a lot of photographs of David in my life. But even with the skill and the equipment at my disposal, I shudder thinking of all of the images I missed out on. Many because I was too much of a snob to take a snapshot. If the light wasn’t perfect, I didn’t want to bother. I hardly have any shots of us as a family. I was always the shooter.

I shouldn’t complain, but even with all of the photos I have, they will never be enough. When I look at them, I smile but there is always this lingering pain in my gut knowing I won’t get anymore. There won’t be any new ones. Gracie is almost 11 now and in all of the photos I have of her with her Papa, she will never be older than 4. Every once in a while someone will post a photo of him on Facebook, or show me one I haven’t seen before and it seriously feels like Christmas morning. Those random snapshots are a gift that I can’t even explain.

So now maybe you can forgive me for all of the “you’re gonna die” posts I offer up here and on Facebook. Because this experience has changed me in that way. I don’t do this for the Christmas cards. I do my work always with a small notion in my head that life is short. That your children love you and adore you. I look at the portraits I take of you with your kids and I ask myself if they are going to love it when they’re 75. If the answer is no, then I move on to the next. All of the cliches apply. Life is short, time flies, they grow up too fast, etc. The only guarantee you have is right now. Right now in this moment you can think differently. You can create a new memory with your family. You can photograph it.

If my work ever inspires anybody to do anything, I hope it is to take the time to document all of the pieces of your life. If not for you, for your kids.

To David, wherever you are. We love you and we miss you every day.
Debbie downer, over and out.


  • steffi - …… this post really touched my soul…..something similar happened to my son and me only a year ago…. I had been separated from my partner ….and then you get this call….I didn’t think there could be a pain like this…grief….is a whole different thing….my own grief….but worst of all the grief for my son and the fact that he lost his dad…..a physical experience a mental restart and a time to rethink your life and the riches we already possess ….but there is life and that never stops…it keeps going and it always changes. It’s a process and it heals and it moves in all kinds of directions. So pleased you have found love and happiness ….. I know it’s just around the corner for us!

    I just happened to stumble across your Blog today and it is truly inspiring, emotional and full of life and love.

    Thanks for sharing.


  • Santa Monica Photographer | Newborn Photography - […] remember being in HER shoes. I remember Gracie’s Papa spraying everybody down with Lysol when they walked through our front door. I remember how I felt […]ReplyCancel

  • Guy Ready - Amazing! Wish I could express myself as well!ReplyCancel

  • Tracy - Trish, your words are as inspiring as your photos. We are so lucky to have your work to document our lives since the kids were born. I just ordered another album to display all the gorgeous photos you’ve taken over the last 8 years. I cherish each photo and am thankful for you!ReplyCancel

  • Jen - HI Trish – when I first became a photographer, you and your shots of Gracie were an inspiration to me. I was just learning – and you, you were capturing images that spoke to my heart. Thank you. I want to say something profound about how much this has touched my heart – but I have no words. At a time when photography has become kind of a *pain* to me, a *chore*, something I do to make money, thank you for the reminder that it is a gift. I’m so happy you found love again – and I’m so thankful that you wrote this post. Happy birthday to David – and lots of love to you and your family…ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Greenway - Hi, a sorority sister of mine, Buffy, posted your blog. I loved the picture so I decided to read your posting. I lost my husband almost 4 years ago. I had to tell my then 6 year old son about his daddy. I also had a 10 week old baby. I totally get your feelings about the picture. We always took a lot of pictures. I am rarely in any of them.

    I have a blog dedicated to the way of life of my husband, Doug. He was awesome. Not always sweet, sometimes selfish. But awesome nonetheless.

    Keep taking the photos with your heart girl. Maybe you can photograph my family someday. I remarried too. Not going so great, but I know life does move on for all us. It sucks sometimes, but the pictures I have always make me happy.

    Thanks for sharing. -JenniferReplyCancel

  • trish - I wish there were little thumbs up signs on your names so I could click on them. I really appreciate your feedback. Not what I expected at all, but a very nice surprise after crying over my keyboard all morning.ReplyCancel

  • Chris thiel - Oh, Trish. Joe talks so often of the great times they had and what a special guy Dave was. He lost his brother just a few months ago, and all those emotions came flooding back. He is still with all of you.ReplyCancel

  • Cheri Reda Gray - What can I say? I first saw this when one the instructors here was in my office. We read it together and we were both in tears. You managed to tell it with such eloquence.

    Happy Birthday, David Lee Reda. Take peace in knowing that your two loves have never forgotten you or the love that you shared. Love, MomReplyCancel

  • kathy wolfe - YOu have no idea how much i can relate to this post. Losing my son’s father/my ex a few years ago has left me with an emptiness that cant be explained. My son, like your daughter, called him papa. and his name was david. The coincidences are all so real and close and … well, you know. wishing you peace from one heart to another. xoReplyCancel

  • Trisha C. - Trish, this made me cry!! I was at the airport in North Carolina when my mom told me the news…people stared at me as I sobbed out loud…if they only knew the loss. I’m still so sad for the pain that you and Gracie have had to/ still have to go through. She is like my own (minus the pain of birth πŸ™‚ )! Having Gracie here was so much fun…she is so creative, fun, loving, smart, caring, and just wonderful….you have done a great job! You are a great lady and I love you!! Well said….
    Happy Birthday Dave Reda πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Pete - that was very touching. thanks for sharing that. i will remember your story whenever i have those same thoughts about taking a snapshot or not having perfect lighting. i find myself falling into that same trap.ReplyCancel

  • dena robles - Truly at a loss for words, but truly touched at the same time. It is tragic that most times it takes grieving a great loss to gain this perspective. Those of us who know it should never apologize for sharing it. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Hickey - WOW Trish! Beautiful in every single way! On my bucket list somewhere (I’m not kidding): Hire Trish Reda to photograph our family! Love to you and Gracie – Always! LisaReplyCancel

  • joy prouty - you always make me see life in a new, refreshing, humbled way. thank you for spilling it all out here. whenever you do, i listen, i tear up, i remember the reason why we not only do what we do but why we are given those in our lives, even whey we may not understand the why or the struggle. you are a blessing to me and so many others.ReplyCancel

  • marmalade - Trish, I don’t know you just your beautiful, soulful work and I have to say that your words simply stopped me in my tracks, caused me to stand up and go to my bedroom where my husband lay napping and give him a big kiss. I’m so sorry you and your beautiful Gracie experienced this loss – I can only imagine it was as difficult (if not more so) than as if you & he were still married.

    Thank you for sharing this, I can only imagine how difficult any of this was to write out. Happy birthday David, I am certain he is out there, watching his beautiful girl grow up and touched by your post here.

    Love + peace. MareReplyCancel

  • jill - I love your pictures, your story, your philosophy & your beautiful girl! I know he’s watching you guys and I know he must be so proud of all that you’ve accomplished. I know my family is grateful for your god-given talent @ being able to shoot like no other photographer I know. All our memories and our laughters, Trish caught them for us! Every year, year after year. Thank you, darling!ReplyCancel

  • Wabisabimami - Absolutely beautiful Trish! I am so touched, and happy that you gathered the courage to share πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Dina marie - thank you.
    thank you for this post.
    i love you.ReplyCancel