I have loved photography my entire life. I remember my first camera. It was hot pink. And I mean HOT pink (none of this pastel pink business). I would wind the little dial, take a picture, and quickly wind the dial again, getting it ready for the next picture. I have a little stack of pictures from that camera, and when I come across them they always make me smile. Most of them are out of focus. They are random snapshots from a seven-year old’s perspective: pictures of my sister and brother; my best friend; my brother and sister with my best friend (you get the point). Our family car. The cat. My young life with photography didn’t end there. Back in high school I was on the yearbook committee. Every year possible, photography was my elective. I still remember that specific smell of the chemicals we used to develop our film (yes, film). Ah, so many hours in the dark room getting things just right.
I wasn’t alone in my love of photography. My sister is a photographer. She captures the most beautiful images, and she has an amazing eye. She took it beyond a hobby and made it a business. Amazing. But, we didn’t develop this love of photography out of nowhere. Our whole lives, our father had a camera in his hands. Taking pictures. Harassing people to smile. If you’ve met him, you know. You may or may not have been accosted by his camera. It used to drive me crazy. Who am I kidding…sometimes it still does.
Today I found some pictures that he took. The printed date read 1959, so he was about twenty-one years old, give or take. I didn’t recognize any of the faces — memories from a distant past — but of course he does. He wasn’t in any of the pictures, except for one: a small shot of him taking a picture of himself in a mirror, with a small, silly smile. It made me smile too. As I sorted through the stack, there was one I just couldn’t leave behind, and I took it home to find it a frame and a place to live in my home. It is a picture of a dock on a lake, a towel and shoes cast aside, indicating the swimmer had left them behind. Staged or not — I’m not sure. I love it regardless. I put in on my dresser along with some of the other black and white pictures I have in a row. I looked across my dresser. I noticed it was directly across from a picture my sister took when she was just about the same age. It is a black and white picture of my bouquet from my wedding. It made me smile that I have a picture from each of them at the same time in their lives, although more than forty years apart.
I am thankful for my father and his love of photography. I love the way it rubbed off on all of us. Even my mom, who was never a fan of the obsession, eventually picked up a camera and caught the photography bug. I’m glad it was contagious. And, although I hate to admit it, I’m sure I am guilty of harassing my own children to smile on occasion, just the way that my dad harassed my siblings and me. I get the bigger picture now. I see why it was so important to him. Now it is important to me.
I love the way that photography gives us the opportunity to capture a memory. I think part of the reason Allison Tate’s article touched me so much yesterday is because I very much believe the way that she does. I don’t get in pictures only when I feel put together and fancy. I try to take pictures of regular life because, honestly, the regular life is the one that I live more often than not. I love how when I look at a picture, I can so easily be brought right back to the moment when it was taken. I love that. I love to have just a piece of that moment in time. I am so thankful to be able to flip back to moments that may have been forgotten, and remember, if only for a minute, what they were like.
Here is a link to my own favorite “Mom Stays in the Picture” picture. https://thecourseofalife.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/just-mom/