I suppose you've noticed that Joy and I tend to take a few snapshots of each other every time we hike. We don't do it just to play pranks on each other . (although we aren't above that sort of thing), And we don't do it because we are covert narcissists' who cannot get enough of our own images. Nope.
Both Joy and I are now the official family photographers. I think Joy has been in her family for a Very Long Time. Tim was the shutterbug in our family for quite awhile. But I have noticed that once cell phone cameras starting improving, my picture taking starting picking up. And once I started taking lots of photos, Tim began taking fewer. So I guess it's just my turn now. And that's fine with me. Absolutely fair ;)
But the thing about being the family photographer is that the person with the camera is usually behind the camera, not in front of it so in general, there aren't a many pictures of that person. And honestly, it's not that I need to be front and center 100% of the time. Or even 50%. Or even 10%! But I'm learning, as I get older, how important having photos of people and places and events become. Everyone (at least everyone I've ever known) enjoys looking through old photographs and reliving moments and memories.
My dad was the family photographer when I was a kid. And he took that role very seriously. But that consequence is that there are very few photographs of him. There aren't many of my mother either, but that was by her choice. She despised having her picture taken and managed to avoid it most of the time. It's a shame because when I look through old photographs, I mean the really old ones when I was a kid, those two very important people are missing even though I know that they were actually there.
I am not especially comfortable having my picture taken either, but I understand the importance of allowing it now. I want to be present in my own story. If in the future other generations are going through piles of pictures, I will be represented.
While my photography skills are improving, I'm still not very good at taking pictures of people. It's a special skill set. One that I am lacking, sadly. But Joy is game and a good sport and never takes offense when I mess up and take a truly terrible photo. So when we are hiking, it's a terrific opportunity to get some practice in. Some of the pictures even turn out okay.
And then Joy returns the favour by snapping shots of me.
(As an aside yes, I am aware that I wear nearly the exact same thing every time I hike. Those are my official hiking clothes)
And all of these kind of silly pictures that we take of each other say, we were there, we were part of life, we existed in this time. We aren't just a name and some dates in our family history, we were real people. And nothing makes history come to life quite like a photograph.
My dad was very interested in genealogy and spent years writing up his own family history. And while, yes, I enjoyed reading the names of people from years gone by, every once in awhile my dad would also find a photograph. And then that person became real. My own Father's great (or perhaps great great, I'm not absolutely certain) Aunt Victoria for example. She was referred to as Queen Victoria. Well excuse me! But it made perfect sense when I saw the old daguerrotype of an imperious looking woman all gussied up with her fancy hat and fur muff, looking quite elegant and directly into the camera. Yup that woman is Queen Victoria Hurley. You Betcha.
I was surprised to find a particular photo of my own maternal grandmother, Ethel Howard, better known as Nana to her many kids and grand kids and great grand kids and honestly anyone in the vicinity. In my memory she wore dresses every single day. I never saw her dressed in anything except a dress, most of them some shade of blue. Going through some very old slides one day, I found a photograph of Nana wearing shorts. There was nothing wrong with the shorts, they were perfectly respectable looking. I wear shorts, my own mother wore shorts, but I had never seen Nana wear anything but a dress. I couldn't get over it! That slide of Nana wearing shorts I will never ever forget. And if someone had told me that Nana ever wore shorts without the benefit of that photographic evidence, I would not have believed them.
Other wonderful snapshots come to mind immediately: All three of my boys at various ages, pictures of our beautiful daughters in law, my dad in a cowboy hat, my sister in a dance costume, various weddings, holidays, parties, babies, vacations, pets! Moments frozen in time, supposedly forever. But without the pictures, sometimes the memories fade.
Joy and I hiking is nothing like a big event where there are lots of cameras and now cell phone cameras with so many people snapping away that there are bound to be pictures of everyone. Hiking is just an ordinary thing. We aren't dressed up fancy, we aren't looking our best, but twenty years from now, it will be a wonderful memory. And we will have the photographic evidence to back it up.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.