capturing a moment

Today, as I'm taking steps forward in my pursuit of my passion I am thinking fondly upon my grandfather, Vilem Sokol.  This post is personal but perhaps the most revealing and honest thing I can write about myself as a photographer.  I am one of many grandchildren - all talented and special in so many ways.  For me, my gramps is literally spurring me on right now and I have no idea where it's coming from.  I've known him my whole life.  His stature and personality could be felt from miles away - he was a man who believed that anyone could do anything no matter their age.  In the last couple years of his life we suddenly began to bond over photography.  He was an avid shooter and had hundreds of thousands of images to prove it.  As he was nearing the end he gave me all of his cameras and talked to me so sweetly about getting his ever-so-special Leica during trying times in his family's homeland: Czechoslovakia.  It was WWII.  Nothing was taken lightly.  When I first held the Leica in my hands, I confess I didn't know what to do with it. I scoured the internet for manuals and any sort of tips I could accrue.  It clearly needed a cleaning but I couldn't afford it.  Months later a friend prompted me to clean it as best as I could myself.  With Q-tips and alcohol I meticulously wiped away the years of grime and batina'ed metal until it seemed ready to shoot with.  After a great deal of trial and error I landed on a series of photos along Steven's pass in Washington.  I printed them and eagerly awaited an opportunity to share them with him.  The day came all too fast when I received a phone call from my mother saying he had Cancer.  He was in his mid-90s and tired.  The end was certain.  Only months earlier he had shared these photos shown here of my grandmother and cats playing in the light.  He had urged me to take some photos of a family friend's daughter and with great eagerness on the phone explained that you never know when you capture a moment that it may in fact be the one moment that a person remembers for the rest of their life.  For him, this was that moment, of my peaceful sleepy grandmother.  His wisdom hit me in a way that only a 90+ year old can offer.  Our journey is shorter than we could possibly imagine and as we look back, images of moments are what we treasure.  When I proudly approached him with the images I had taken with his Leica at Stevens pass a mere week or so before his passing I couldn't help but feel so much gratitude and love.  He was so overwhelmed to see the photos and so pleased that his camera had been passed on to me.  The last words he spoke to me were "your pictures will be with me in heaven" and "I'll see you soon" with a wink.  It was the most magical moment of connection I've ever experienced in my life.  Each day as I push through the normal day to day I try to remember that our moments are all special and if I can capture that moment for someone it's the best thing I can do.  It is with great humility and honor that I shoot photos and I owe that understanding of my duty to a very special person.  I love and miss you Gramps.

Gram 1-.jpg

Danielle Elliott

Seattle, WA, USA

I'm a photographer, brand manager, and creative living in Seattle. I'm a travel enthusiast with a passion for storytelling and digging into as many creative endeavors as I can.