Photo Project for Young Families
Written by: steve
By Steve Russell
This article falls within the “I wish I had done that” category. After my children were grown and off to college or on their own, a woman I knew showed me a photo album that really made me wish I had done the same thing with my family. The reason I didn’t was I never thought of it and no one ever suggested the idea. I wanted to share the concept so that others might decide to do the same thing.
We all take family snapshots/photos and most of them get stuffed in a box and forgotten until we run across the box while cleaning out our closet or some other place that attracts stuff we’re not using. The result of rediscovering the box is usually an hour or two of sitting in the middle of the floor rummaging through old photographs. Sometimes the organized mother will put the photos in an album but the album frequently enjoys the same fate as the loose photos. In today’s digital age, the family photos, organized or not, usually find their way to a CD or DVD and put in a cabinet or on a shelf and again forgetten for long periods of time.
The album I was shown that day was a series of pictures of the woman and her parents. An uninteresting approach to all but the immediate family, at least on the surface. But as I turned the pages of the album I realized that it was far more than just a bunch of family photos. A single photo taken by itself was unremarkable — a mother and father with their daughter standing in front of their house, but because of what they did and how they did it the album had a flavor of family and social history.
What made the photos and the album special was that each photo had been taken on the daughter’s birthday, one for each year. Looking through the album I could watch the infant become a toddler, then a pre-schooler, then a grade-schooler, a teenager and a young adult. I could see the landscaping in the front of the house mature, the house change colors when they repainted, the new house when they moved. The woman was born in the early 60′s so she grew up during some very interesting “fashion” times. The changing appearance of her parents told much of the story - hairstyles, a period when her father had sideburns and a bushy moustache, the clothes changing from very conservative in the early to 60′s to nothing short of outrageous in the late 60′s and early 70′s and then back to a level of normalcy by the 80′s all talked to the changes through time.
Fortunately, the woman knew the value of the treasure she possessed and continued the tradition with her children. Unfortunately, I’ve lost contact with the woman and have no pictures from her to include with the article. However, imagine being able to look back through your life on the same day of each year. Many of us would have at least one photo like this one.
And, in a different year, maybe one like this.
It doesn’t have to be professional level photography – the chronicle is what’s important. This photo was taken when my oldest son was 6 months old. While we took hundreds of photos over the years, I don’t think we ever took one just like this and we never did anything like this on the same day every year.
While it isn’t important that the photos be taken on a birthday, I encourage you to consider creating a family treasure of this sort in addition to your other photography pursuits. And, although the title refers to young families, even if you’re not in that category, there’s nothing wrong with starting today and following the same protocol.
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