It is through photography that we can re-connect our present with our past. It is often said that “A picture is worth a thousand words.” The act of taking a photo provides us the ability to freeze a moment in time and hold that moment in our hands. I have pulled out photos to look at and through the simple act of viewing them I am magically transported back through time and suddenly, my memories come to life as I recall the scene in greater detail and even the voices of those pictured.
It is only through photos that I know what my grandfather looked like. Sadly, it is only through photographs and memories shared by we who knew and loved her that my youngest child will ever know her Nana, Jeannene. A photo can reveal a lot about one…about a family. One can see the daughter who has her father’s eyes, the son with his mother’s nose, or the granddaughter with her grandfather’s smile. Through a photograph, one can observe the love between a couple or the playfulness within a family. Photos provide not only a sense of place, but also a visual, historical record that can answer a child’s questions such as “Do I look like anyone in my family tree?” Or, satisfy person’s longing to see a departed loved one as memories grow hazy. Through moments captured, our departed loved ones live on in a tangible way. We can still touch them, and they us, if only through a photograph. Photographs tell stories; they spark our memories reminding us of the shape of one’s mouth, the curve of their smile, or the textures of a person’s hands after a life of toil.
We as people are constantly seeking a sense of connectedness to others and the world around us. We connect to others through shared activities, blood, faith, and the stories of our lives. It is this desire for connectedness that compels us to record those fleeting, yet precious, moments with those we love, preserving our stories one frame at a time.
These days with so many individuals at great distances from their family’s as well as the unexpected ravages of disease, photos fill an important role. Our family has lived most of my children’s lives flung far and away from their grandparents and extended relatives. I had photos of family hung in our house and pointed them out to my younger children so that when we visited my children could readily recognize and name the relatives which translated into my children being more at ease in an otherwise unfamiliar environment.
I have many precious photos of my dearly departed mother-in-law with my older children in various situations- the usual birthdays and such, but also in quiet moments as she was snuggling a sleeping newborn baby or helping a child with a task, or rather letting a child ‘help’ her. ~smile~ I have never been so grateful for my penchant for photography than when the memories call me back in time and the photos vividly bring back those special moments.
I wish we’d had the opportunity for professional portraits with my mother-in-law. Some were attempted, but fell far short in execution due to the inexperience of the photographer. I’m still really sad about that but remain forever grateful that I had used my own camera liberally over the years. We are gifted this life. We are not promised another breath. Make and record memories.
**Always make certain that any photographer you choose for your precious memories has more than just a fancy camera but also the knowledge of how to use it – view their portfolio!**
Read a poignant blog post by photographer Jeanine Thurston (used with permission).