I have decided to do a three part series on printing images and why you should do it! I often feel like I have to justify my reasoning for including prints and print credits in each of my collections, and so I decided a photo series/blog would explain why I want people to have photos, why I print my photos.
Here is the first part of the series on why you should Print That Photo.
Bear with me, this is a long post.
AUGUST 20th. Happy Birthday, Dad.
For me, birthdays of my family are always fun. I spend hours planning their day. I decorate with all the balloons and streamers and banners I can find, including the same hideous and shiny one with HAPPY BIRTHDAY in balloon rainbow letters that I use every birthday. I make breakfast. I stuff the same, half burned, pastel colored candle I use year after year into that same breakfast (usually waffles or pancakes), and rush to wake them up singing Happy Birthday. I video record my awful singing and their excited and confused looks as I wake them up. Then I throw the breakfast aside and usher them, in all their bed-head glory, to the living room where they see the decorations and their gifts. I spend hours planning their day and how to make them feel special. Flowers or balloons and favorite candy for the girls. Small gift and candy for my son. I take coffee and my husbands favorite candy to his work. I make them their favorite dinner. I bake them a two layered cake and decorate it, every year. Birthdays are special and they are special. (and yes, I capture it all in photographs)
But, there's always one birthday that I just can't bring myself to enjoy. August 20th, my dad's birthday. Today is always a tough day for me... granted it tends to be easier than the anniversary date of his death, but it doesn't feel like any other birthday I celebrate. Today, my dad would have been 61. He was a Pilot Captain for Zantop / Kitty Hawk. He was in the US Army, where he enjoyed paratrooping. He was patient, confident, straight-forward, and compassionate. He was outrageously tall and thin-- so much so that he used to duck when going through different rooms at home. He loved to dance and make silly faces. He was my best friend; when I'd get off the bus after school, I'd often find him downstairs working on the biplane he was building. He'd let me talk for hours about my life and was incredibly patient with me as I blabbered on about my worries and feelings as an eleven and twelve year old girl. He had this incredible ability to bring calmness, confidence and happiness to any situation.
My dad was the king of duck tape, just as he was the king of making do with what he had. During his memorial service, duck tape and that one time he tried to make our pool a heated one had the entire church (filled with hundreds of people) laughing. Curious? Well, so we had an above ground pool that he installed when I was a kid, probably 9 or 10. Apparently one summer day he thought it was too cold to swim comfortably in. SO, he decided to run a tube of water from the pool filter, through the grill, and then back into the pool once it was heated. I'm not really sure on the details, nor am I really sure if it worked, but our pool was still standing until the late 2000's so I know it didn't end too poorly.
My father was strict with my sister and I, often having us do pushup and sit-ups as consequences for bad behavior. We respected our elders and we were taught to Never Give Up. He taught me to be observant, to stand up for whats right, and to always put family first. He taught me that two lies (one to deny a mistake, and two being the lie to cover it up) is always worse than just telling the truth the first time. He taught me so many things that have shaped my character still today, even though he's been gone longer than he was here at this point.
One thing he did not teach me though, was how to live without him. My dad passed away in 1999 when I was only twelve years old. It was a whirlwind week in February. He went from having a stomach ache, to terminal lung cancer, to his passing in all of a weeks time. It was the most devastating event of my entire life and losing someone so important in my life has left me with so much pain even to this day.
There is a reason I am sharing all of this with you. I want you to feel this with me and to see photographs as I do. I want you to understand the importance, as someone who is on the other side of death and grief. I want you to recognize how much these photographs bring me peace.
Today, is the eighteenth birthday that I haven't been able to enjoy with him. I don't have my father here, and this day is just another reminder of that. It sucks. The only thing tangible I have of my dad are his jean jacket, his favorite blanket (or remnants of it), and photographs. They all bring me comfort on days like today, but its the photos that keep my heart from sinking into the dark sea of grief and despair. These photographs are proof that the moments and memories are still here after all this time. He is not, but these sweet moments from my birth to before his passing, they have given me so much hope and peace throughout life. Year after year, and birthday after birthday, these photographs remain as my most prized possessions he ever left for me.
I have so many photographs that my grandmother has given me over the years. Some from when my dad was a child; I have all of his school photos! I have photos of him in his Army uniform and from the early days of his young adult life. I have photos of him and my mom before kids and then even more with two little blondes added into the mix.
The photos of him before me, I love to look at and wonder about who he was then-- luckily my Aunt and my grandma have helped with a lot of that. Was he into politics or fashion trends? What was his favorite type of music? Did he have a lot of friends and what did he do for fun? These photographs have been conversation starters and lifeboats full of memories and laughter through this sometimes endless sea of grief.
The photos of my family; my dad, my mom, my sister and I at our home in Dexter. There are some that were captured before I can remember like of me as a baby and young tot. Then there are those photos that have seemed to stop so many fun memories in time. It's these that are my favorite because they are proof that my dad was just as amazing as I remember him to be. Just as shooting a flare while lost at sea brings hope to those in a lifeboat waiting to be found, these photographs bring hope and peace throughout this sometimes tumultuous sea of grief.
It is imperative for me to note that there is something so calming and connecting when you hold photographs that hold memories of your loved ones. It's incredibly special to be able to sit in your grandmothers living room and flip through a huge stack of photographs she has given you. So many times, photographs have brought me to tears or made me laugh. Sometimes they have left me with questions or reminded me of how I was feeling in that moment.
Technology has gotten us so many great things in today's world, but it has also left us with a huge barrier in human interaction, and in family traditions. Oftentimes these moments get stored on some hard drive, or posted on social media for people to see for a moment. Social media may not be here forever, and hard drives crash. You are doing yourself and your family a disservice in leaving these images in the digital world.
All of the photos both of my dad as a child, and myself as a child, I can now share them with my children. I can show them who their grandpa was and show my youngest how she has her grandpas chin. I can show them what it looked like when my dad grew up, and when I grew up. I can show them the memories and I can save them until I am ready to pass them down, just as my grandmother has done for me. I can hang them in a frame or leave them in my grandmothers vintage frame and place it on a shelf for anyone who visits my home to see. Can your hard drive do that?
Photographs capture the spirit of its subject. Photographs preserve a memory. Photographs can be handed down throughout generations. Photographs can bring your loved ones peace when that's all they have left of you.
Professional, or candid...PRINT YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS. PRINT AND SHARE YOUR MEMORIES.