Reflecting back on what I have loved most about my life and photography, I find it’s not really just about the photographs. Rather, it has been the experiences that went along with those moments with my camera, family activities, the wonderful people I have met, new friendships made, the sights I have seen and the places I have experienced, and the memories that were made along the way. The value of the photographs, for me, really is to serve as a reminder of the blessings I have experienced in my life.
Every photograph is a two-dimensional snapshot of a moment in time, but there is a rich and deep story behind each image. What was happening at that moment? Who is in the photograph? What were we saying to each other? What compelled me to take that photo? Where was I? What was I doing there? Why was I sitting on the side of that mountain waiting for the sun to rise? Who was with me? How did I feel at the moment when I clicked the shutter? All that remains from that moment is this image I created and the memories I carry with me.
Then, over time, the memories fade, the deeper stories are lost, and we hand over this set of photographs to our next generation. And yet, the photographs still matter. They become like a keyhole in a door we can peer through, into another world, a world in the past. We can’t step through that door to go into the past, but we can at least peer through the keyhole.
Several years ago, I scanned some old black & white photos of my family, from way back, before I was born. My brother, Ken, said they were photos from a family reunion in Grand Lake, Colorado. I couldn’t ask my mom or dad since they passed away years ago. We weren’t quite sure of the specific location of those photos, and I certainly had no memory of the time since I was not born yet.
After a lot of detective work, I found a clue in one of the photos that had a blurry out-of-focus sign in the background. That led me to some Google searches that ultimately led me to some answers. I then went to Google “street view” and was able to explore further. I found with absolute certainty where the cabins were located! I was so excited to piece together these parts of the puzzle that were long lost.
When I was in Grand Lake recently, I was able to visit those very cabins! Although I’ve been to Grand Lake many times, I had no clue that my family stayed there around 65(ish) years ago. It was so exciting to find the cabins! I now had established a connection to a specific place where my family had enjoyed the mountains of Colorado and swam in the beautiful lake. Knowing a precise spot where my mom and dad and brother had been so many years ago changed how I saw the area. I almost felt like I was stepping into another dimension when I stood in the very spot where my dad stood over six decades ago. It was like a sacred moment for me. I am deeply grateful for this gift the photographs gave me.
You just never know how much someone in your family, many years later, may cherish a photograph you create today. The person who might appreciate it the most might not even be born yet… perhaps a son, or daughter, or grandchild, or brother, or nephew…
OR, it might not be a family member who is grateful for the photographs you take. When I was photographing the cabin there in Grand Lake, I spoke with someone there who knew the owner. He asked me to text him the old black & white photo of the cabin, to share with the owner. The owner was so excited to see the photo!
Ah the gift of photography.
Then and Now