Earlier this year, mum mum showed me some photos of her dad / my granddad. I’d only ever seen one photo of him before – at my mum and dad’s wedding – but this one was of him as a young man. He looked like a movie star staring just off camera and when I looked closely at it, I see that the photographer had enhanced his eyelashes. This proved to me two things – firstly, airbrushing folk in photos is no new thing. Secondly that I cared enough ab out a man I never met (he died long before I was born) to study his photo that intently.
Afterwards, I wondered why and I guess it just comes down to the fact that we’re always curious about where we come from, about our families, whether we ever got to meet them or not.
Photography has been capturing people for around 200 years or so, from the early stiff portraits where people sat still for minutes for a single exposure, to now when we are flooded with photos via our Facebook timelines. They might look a bit different nowadays but the fact that we’ve stuck with photos all these years just goes to show that they do still matter to us.
The problem is that photography is so easy now that we don’t necessarily think about what we take. I’m always taking pictures on my mobile (not in the studio I hasten to add) but if you asked me to find a picture of me with my husband and son together, I could lay hands on about three. If you asked for one of me with my mum and dad, and didn’t want me in my graduation cap and gown more than 20 years ago, I would have precisely zero. So I guess that’s my long-winded way of saying family photos do matter. They matter that you enjoy them on your wall but they’ll matter even more to your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren. A photo of a seemingly insignificant period in your life will be fascinating for them just like my granddad’s picture was for me.
So that’s it. No advert, no ‘call to action’ to rush to the studio for a family portrait (though great if you do of course). Just know that your photos matter.