Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Remembering and Photo Advice

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had started taking Ali Edwards' new class Yesterday + Today at Big Picture Scrapbooking. Week five starts tomorrow (it's a twelve week class), and I'm so far behind. I've actually been out of town for the majority of October (I had a lot of posts in draft that I scheduled to post while I was gone) and while I've been reading the handouts, a lot of the first part of the class involved going through old photos and scanning them for later layouts.

Needless to say, I haven't had a chance to do much scanning (or am I the only person without a portable scanner?). I did have the opportunity at my aunt and uncle's (Mama's brother) house to look through ALL of their photo albums (although I suspect I missed a box). I really wish I'd had a scanner with me.

They live eight hours from where I grew up and while we were always close emotionally, we usually only saw each other once a year. When we did get together, my uncle managed to get some great shots of all the cousins together (I'm one of fifteen cousins spread out over twenty-four years). It was so exciting to see photos of myself and my memories that I hadn't seen before.

The real treasure though was photos of my grandparents that I hadn't seen before. Most of them were taken when they visited my uncle, so they looked the way I remember them. I lost both my grandparents when I was twenty years old and I just can't help thinking at times that I just don't have enough photos of them.

While looking through pictures of my PawPaw, I can smell his aftershave. The memory is so powerful and poignant. He was a difficult man at times, but I know he loved me and I miss him. I can almost feel the way his skin was leathery and a little scratchy when I'd kiss him. He's been gone fifteen years, and I fear that some memories have faded and I hold onto what I have.

I have one photo of my Grandma where she's laughing hysterically and I can almost hear her. She had an infectious, almost cackling laugh. Kind of a cross between a cackle and a giggle, if that makes sense.

I don't remember Grandma liking to have her photo taken. I think there are only two pictures of us alone together (I'm one of fifteen, remember). One is from when I'm a tiny baby. The other is from three months before she passed away. We didn't even know she was sick until a week later. We were leaving her house on Christmas Day and I suddenly had this urge to get my picture in my Grandma's lap (I was very small when I was twenty). There are two pictures: one of me stepping on her foot while sitting down and one of us hugging. I have no idea why I got it into my head to get this shot. I think it's the only picture anyone took of her that day, and it was a fairly large family gathering. The other pictures were of the two toddlers at the time - it was Christmas, after all.

I have a reputation now for being a shutterbug. People hide when they see me coming. They want to fix their hair or their face or lose a few pounds or a few years before I get that shot. I've had it suggested to me that I superimpose an old photo of someone so they don't have to have their picture taken when they're "old". The ages of those suggesting that varies.

I understand the sentiment. I have photos of myself that I despise. The thing is, though, I'm not taking the pictures of myself for ME. The pictures are for the people I love. The people who see me each day and will remember the everyday me. Dressed-up, made-up photos are great, and I love formal family portraits. But the next time you try to duck from a camera, think of your grandma or your mom or your dad or someone else you love and how you remember the way they look. And then maybe get over yourself a little.

Feel free to remind me of this when I try to hide from your camera.

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