Thursday, 25 October 2018

6 and 7 out of 100 - Photos as Family History

6 and 7 - those are my numbers. Years ago my parents separated our family photos and created albums for my sister, my brother and I. They are photos of our childhood. I did a little experiment this morning and looked through to see how many photos I had of myself with my parents. Out of the entire album of around 100 photos, I found 6 photos of me and my mom and 7 with my dad and I. There were none (in my album at least) of all 5 of us and only one of both my parents and I. My dad took a good amount of photos - we are lucky that we have our family history in photos at all. But like most parents when photographing our families, the kids are the focus. Especially now, we take so many photos of our kids as babies, toddlers, and then slowly as they age it becomes less and less and with it goes the opportunity to be part of that documented history with our kids.

I remember one year when I was around 8 or 9 we had a Sears portrait done as a family. That was the only time we had a professional photo taken of the 5 of us. It was a big deal at the time. It currently hangs in my parents basement and it's the source of much laughter and teasing as my siblings and I point the finger at who had the worst 80s hair and outfit. While I like that photo for that reason alone, it doesn't feel like how I remember our childhood.

It makes me think about what it would have been like if at the time we had someone come into our home and our lives to capture the 5 of us with a photo session. The details of our day, the interactions, our little home, what that place and time felt like.

I think my own kids would have loved to see that. To see with their own eyes how my life was, how their grandparents were and what it felt like to grow up in my family's home. That green shag carpet in our basement or the little garden of lily of the valley we had in our little yard.

I think about this idea of photos as family history when I take photos for clients because the photos we take aren't just for us right now but for our kids and for their kids later in life.

Don't wait to preserve your family's history and don't forget to be a part of it. My mom reminds me of this every time she sees me taking photos of my kids - she wrestles me for my camera so that I can be in the frame too. I resist at first but then realize she's right, I want my kids to see me too. Sometimes I remember this on my own and attempt to get a photo of me with the kids. Often this is the result but I love it cause this is who they are - funny, silly, and hamming it up so that I get frustrated and stop taking photos and play with them instead.

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Ottawa photographer - Melanie Mathieu