As a former stockbroker, stay-at-home Dad, and husband to a wonderful, courageous, and generous wife, you can say it took me a little longer than most to find myself. I remember a short time after 9/11, I was sitting on my parents’ couch, still in shock over what had happened. It was hard not to think about the people we knew who were no longer with us, and how precious life is. I went into my parents’ basement to dig up some old photos. I pulled an old box from a shelf and started combing through the dusty, faded photographs one by one. There were photos of my grandparents, my parents, cousins, and of the hundreds of pictures I looked through, only a few of me. There was one baby photo of me, a classic muscle pose when I was about 6, and one of me going off to summer camp for the first time. I remember thinking that if I wasn’t here on earth anymore, how would people remember me? The few photos left behind certainly wouldn’t accomplish that. In that moment, I knew that I needed to start documenting my life and photography would be my medium of choice.
I quickly became obsessed with taking pictures, and I didn’t want to take just any pictures; I wanted to take great pictures. I went back to school, took a few classes on the basics, and soon immersed myself in the art of taking photographs in my everyday life, taking photos of everything I saw. I gained an appreciation for life that I’d never experienced before. Living right in the center of the hustle and bustle of New York City, I began to see life in slow motion and could capture the beauty in the smallest things. And I couldn’t wait for the next sunrise or the next rainbow. I was never without a camera around my neck, spending hours taking pictures of our four Labrador retrievers, taking the same photo over and over until I got it just right. The birth of my daughter Samantha gave me even more reason to snap away and seven years later I have thousands of photographs of her. I find a deep satisfaction in knowing that when she is older, we will share great memories, sitting together looking at old photographs, reflecting on how wonderful life is.
Some people never have that aha moment, when everything suddenly makes sense and we know exactly what we want to do and where we are going. It took me 47 years, but this past year, I finally had mine. I was on a call with my health coach, Jennifer. I had just shared my photographs with her for the first time and she told me I had a gift and that my gifts were meant to be shared and not kept to myself. I had never even considered doing photography professionally. I had always been content with sharing my photographs with friends and family, never thinking beyond that. But during this conversation, it was in that moment I knew I would begin using my gift to help make the world a better place. Eric Yagoda Photography was born. Profits from my business are donated to the charities of your choice. What better way to share my gift?