In addition to being the focus of this month’s issue, what do kids, families, seniors and pets have in common? If you’re anything like me, you take (lots!) of photos of them all.
In Emily John Photography Documents Generations, I write about an interesting interview I had with local photographer Emily John. The article covers several topics when it comes to photography, and they all resonated with me in one way or another. One of the discussion points circulated around what photos of late loved ones can tell us about our familial histories, and it got me thinking—and looking around my home.
My home office includes several photographs. Among them is a black and white image of my maternal grandparents. Grandma’s billowy white blouse is neatly tucked into a high-waisted skirt. Some of her hair escapes from a tidy bun at the nape of her neck. (This is an unfamiliar look as I never recall seeing her finger-waved hair ever out of place.) Grandpa—a proud Dutchman in soul and stance—stands next to her with both arms tucked behind his back, hands resting on his lower back—similar to how I often catch sight of my own sons. (Posture can certainly be inherited!)
From what I can tell, the photo is from early in their relationship. They look carefree, in love and at ease in each other’s presence. It offers me a little glimpse into their relationship that I would never have seen without this picture. It’s the “before.” Before World War II called for them to plant a victory garden and endure financial sacrifices. Before a train on a foggy morning claimed one of their children’s lives. Before joy and other sorrows conspired to create their destinies in smalltown Minnesota. Before I was born and old enough to begin developing my own tender impressions of them. And it’s important to see those “befores” captured in images.
The article also highlights photographing loved ones engaging in something they love or enjoy. Last Christmas, one of our children asked me for copies of my Christmas cookie recipes. (To say I make hundreds of Christmas cookies is not an overstatement.) I will send the recipes off, certainly, but it won’t be through an email. I’ll write them out. There’s something worth treasuring when reading a recipe penned in a loved one’s handwriting.
A few of my family’s favorite Christmas cookies are a bit labor intensive, and I want someone to photograph me and my husband (my baking sous-chef of sorts), rolling out the layered ingredients, creating tight spirals of dough and decorating tiny holiday wreaths. I hope our children, grandchildren and beyond treasure photos of our floured hands—stained with food coloring, our wedding rings caked in dough and our faces decorated in joy.
What photo memories are important to you?
Until next month,