A Family History in Photographs
I love history. Especially family history. I also adore looking through old albums and boxes of photos. I enjoy hearing the stories that come along with these images and being able to picture what was happening. History is shared through oral story telling, the written word, and art since the beginning of time. Only in the past 200 years have we been able to create true images of people, of memories, through photography, to enhance our story telling. Photographs are a huge part of history. They are someone’s history. They are an entire family’s legacy as they tell our stories from generation to generation.
I may have a ton of albums and boxes of photos but there are only a few that are priceless. I believe it’s because we don’t have as many photos to choose from prior to the early 2000’s. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having less photos. As long as they mean something to you. Or as Marie Kondo would say, as long as they spark joy.
Some of my most cherished photos are those of my parents when they were babies. Above, my mom is sporting a sleek, baby mohawk while my dad is thoroughly enjoying his bucket bath on the porch. Is anyone else feeling that spark?
Of course I have more photos of them as babes but these are my absolute favorites. Do you have a handful of favorites of your parents? Or your own childhood photos? How many photos are on your phone right now? Do all of those photos spark joy? If I were to guess, you probably have a lot that weren’t quite right so you took them over. And over and over again. Are those photos still special to you once you’ve posted them on social media? Or have you moved on to the next one?
The picture above is the only photo we have of my dad with his father. My dad is only 13 months old and my grandfather is leaving to fight in WWII. Shortly after he arrived in England, he was killed during Operation Tiger, a top secret exercise in preparation for the Normandy invasion.
This photo gets me every time. I feel a sense of sadness that my dad never got to know this man. And yet I feel so much joy knowing that he had this photo. This image represents, not only a family built, but a family broken apart. It’s a symbol of the sacrifice so many families made during that time and a reminder of just how precious our time with loved ones really is.
My parents divorced when I was 21. They were both passionate and creative humans. I know the love they had for one another was deep and true. I also know that, no matter how things ended, they always spoke of the beginning fondly. They each remembered my birth, my younger sister’s birth, and the years to follow with kindness and love toward the other parent. They looked at family photos, not with bitterness in their hearts, but with the knowledge that these were precious moments in their life stories.
I look at these images of my grandparents and parents and can’t help but think of the lyrics from The Avett Brother’s song Murder in the City // “Always remember, there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name.” The families that my sister and I are building today, were born from the love between Ruby and Bill Cunningham and Elsie and Alton Haskins decades ago. My heart right now is so full as I think about this.
I met Adam almost five years ago. We were both working as wedding photographers sharing the same office space. At the time, I wasn’t looking to date anyone but I thought he was such a great guy so of course I tried to set him up with a few of my friends. I laugh so hard thinking about this now.
Two years ago, to this very day that I am writing this, I said yes when Adam asked me to marry him. He disguised the event (because it was an event!) as a family session with my sister and her family. He popped the questions shortly after the photo below was taken. And a bottle of bubbles. Cheers!
Melissa and her husband, Kenny, began growing their little family of two in 2010 when they married. Three years later, their son, Maddox, was born — Wide-eyed, curious, and generally very serious. Hazel, a tiny hurricane of curls, sass, and a love so aggressive it knocks you down, entered our world only two short years later.
I see my dad in Maddox’s eyes and smile. The fiery independence that both our parents have is seen in Hazel’s live-out-loud personality. They are deeply woven into each other’s story regardless of the fact that these two babes will never meet their Pop. He is a part of them, just like our dad’s father was a part of him. Through stories and photos, our family history, they will learn about the man he was, the life he lived, and the legacy he left behind.
Schedule a consultation with Leanne today to document your family history today.
Photographs speak to all of us in different ways and in different times. What we document reflects our collective heritage. I capture images of the families I serve so their stories will live on long after the moment has passed.