“Photographs are often looked at, but rarely looked into." -Ansel Adams Sometimes I am discouraged when people don’t see what I see in a photograph I took. An image is enhanced by a personal experience attached to it, and I’m realizing that I’m going to be the only one with that perspective. That’s also why no one will have the same reaction to my family photo albums as I do.
Growing up, my mother took pictures of “everything”. I remember when I got chicken pox and how she felt it was absolutely necessary to document my spotted, naked body. All appropriate parts covered, but still, not my finest moment. My mom had dated our 50 photo albums and kept our memories very organized. She used to think it was so funny when I would flip through old photos and find clothes that I used to love and was torn up when I realized they were gone. She laughed because I obviously just grew out of them. I’m so lucky to have documentation of my M.C. Hammer pants that my mom made for me, or the red flannel that I used to tuck into my red sweat pants. Yes, even my custom made inhaler pouch that hung around my neck so that I would never misplace it.
Growing up, I never seemed to remember anything. My mom would get so upset when I couldn’t remember something I wrote or sang or read about my grandfather after he passed away. See, I still can’t remember. So for me, photographs help me to stay grounded in where I came from and the events that have shaped who I am today. Unfortunately, whatever I did in honor of my grandfather at church one day, there is no photographic proof that it happened. That saddens me.
My mother’s influence rubbed off on me, making it hard for me to just enjoy moments without documenting their existence. I can’t handle the thought of forgetting something quirky my child did, or fishing with my best friend, my daughter’s wedding, or even my grandmother’s love for cards and bubbly.
There is only one way to tangibly hold onto the people and experiences that touch our lives. Photographs. I can get lost for hours in the internet vortex, looking at other people’s images and memories, wondering how rich and full their lives are or were. I’m sucked in by any image saturated in emotion and stories. I can’t help but hope that people will one day look back at my photographs, mesmerized by the beauty of the people and places in them. I want to leave a historically creative footprint behind, and stories will ignite from my images.
Ansel Adams said “Some photographers take reality…and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation." I like images that tell a person or place’s story for that time, but I definitely like to tell it from my perspective. People are hard on themselves and if we always photographed them where they were right at that moment and time, we would probably have a lot of depressing reality. If I get the opportunity to tell their story the way I see them, maybe, just maybe they’ll start to see themselves that way too. Unique, beautiful and important.