December 28, 2013

Family Album.web

A family’s photograph album is generally about the extended family and, often, is all that remains of it.

-Susan Sontag

FOCUS:  Life Unscripted

Last night my family sat around for hours pouring over old family photographs that date back over a 100 years.  All of the people in the photographs were from my mother-in-law’s family, and throughout the evening she carefully pointed out the who, what, where and why of each photo.  It was so interesting to hear the stories, and to get a visual peek into all the family history.  Photography is truly amazing in its ability to connect one generation to the next.

Looking at the old family photos I was struck by the realization that the most important subject one could ever photograph is their own family.  So many of us only think of pulling out our camera to photograph a beautiful landscape, a travel destination, or some other ‘special’ event.  Even worse, we might rely on our camera phones to capture grainy, low resolution images of the mundane aspects of everyday life – a cup of Starbucks, a plate of food, or a fancy bar drink.  But when it comes to photographing family, everyone seems to shy away.  This is truly unfortunate.  Ten, twenty, fifty years from now which photos will really be important to us?  Most likely we will be drawn to those few, precious family photos that are scattered in among the scores of other photos we’ve taken during our lives.

Today, we spent some time with extended family at a local park.  The atmosphere was easy going, and there was nothing ‘special’ about the day, other than our spending time together as a family.  Fortunately, I had my camera with me and I took advantage of the opportunity to capture us all together.  Maybe someday many, many years from now, I will pull out this particular family portrait and will be telling my own grandchildren about the who, what, where and why of those captured in the image.  Maybe through photography, they too will gain insight into their own family history.