There are times you do things that are uncomfortable for the sake of family and history. For my entire life I was always the photographer. I took the photographs because I always hated the way I looked in them. If I took the photograph I would never have to be in it – for me a win win.
A little over a month ago I decided that I needed to have a family portrait taken – for many, many reasons. I think everyone needs to do this, if for no other reason than a record for future generations. I have uncovered photographs in my attic clean up of my great grandparents weddings, or them with their siblings and mother. Photographs taken around 1900 – over 100 years ago – that give me a little glimpse of their lives. For me a gift. Having this portrait done was my gift to grandchildren and great-grandchildren yet to be born. A little piece of my life.
There was a lot involved with this whole plan on my part. First and foremost was the photographer. I messaged an old friend with the request. His work is something that I have admired for a long time and he was one of the very few I trusted with photographing me. (It’s all about me you understand, I knew everyone else would look great). I’ve known Joe since the early 80’s, there is no one I would trust more with this photograph.
It was also important to me to have Scott be photographed with us. Although he is a new-found member of our family he is one that has been fully embraced. It was also important to me as part of the record that he be involved. My only regret about it is I have to tell people who he is – over and over. In years to come he will just be my son and my daughters’ brother. He is one of us, he just came late to the party.
The appointed hour came and we met Joe of Josephs at the appointed hour at Forest Park in Springfield, MA. We have a history of photographs in this park and it seemed the perfect setting to me (even though Joe thought Fort Pelham Farm was where it should be – another time maybe). We had a great time. Joe was entertaining and comfortable in his work. He also did an amazing job and it was everything I hoped it would be.
I looked at 176 proofs today. What I was struck with is how old I am. In my head I will always be around 27 but in the photographs I am an older woman. I know it’s me but I’m shocked in a way at how old I really am. Having my adult children around me just brought it home. They all have lives quite separate from mine. I see little glimpses of them as children but my days of parenting children are sadly over and have been for quite some time. It’s all a little bittersweet. The record has been made, we all look like we still love one another. I know at this point that the likelihood of this happening again is pretty much nonexistent. That’s okay.
I can take these photographs and enjoy them for the moment that they captured. A beautiful fall afternoon, warm with a slight breeze, spent laughing with the people I care about the most. Maybe 100 years from now someone will find a few photographs in the attic and glean a little about the people in this little family group. I hope it just shows them how happy we were on this afternoon and that we care about one another.