Monday, September 19, 2016

Photographs Are Memories: Smile for the Camera

Old photographs are magical. In an instant, they transport you back in time -- to a time when you were a child or young adult. Some old photos even have the power to take you to times in your parents' or grandparents' lives you didn't see.

Singer and songwriter Jim Croce said it well in an early 1970s hit song titled "Photographs and Memories" -- the lyrics of the first verse speak of a love long gone, but not forgotten,

"Photographs and memories
Christmas cards you sent to me
All that I have are these to remember you
Memories that come at night
Take me to another time
Back to a happier day, when I called you mine."

The lyrics of Croce's song are equally poignant to those mourning the loss of a loved one. Although no photograph can replace your mom, dad, sibling or child, each picture of the person you love serves as a reminder that they lived and loved.

In every family, there's at least one camera-shy person. In our family, my Mom was that person. Mom used every trick in the book to hide from the camera. Hiding behind a child was probably the trick she used the most. With eight kids, there was always someone available to serve as a shield from the camera's prying eye.

Turning away from the camera at just the right moment was another hiding from the camera ploy Mom used.

Which came first -- Mom's dislike of being photographed or Dad's love of photography? Who knows since there's nobody to ask anymore.

Side views of Mom may have been snapped without her knowledge or consent or maybe she just didn't mind this pose as much as a full frontal 'smile for the camera' posed photo.

Hiding from the camera was still a very real thing when my kids and their older cousins were young. As soon as Mom spotted a camera, she turned away. It became almost a game for her.

Getting lots of people to all look at the camera at the same time is challenging. It was even more difficult back before the digital age. When you took a photo back in the old days, you found out how it turned out after the film was developed -- too late for a retake.

It's also challenging to get a baby to look at the camera, but even more difficult if you can't get the grown-up in the photo to look your way. Reserved, private, aloof, or unwilling to pose for reasons unknown -- the end result is the same.

Sometimes "just say no" was Mom's motto when a camera came out. Refusing to look at the camera worked for her!

Other times, Mom looked at the camera as she yelled at the photographer, suggesting in her own unique way to put the camera down.

Taking a drink of Coke was another way Mom avoided photos. Mom had a Coke in her hand most of the time when we were younger.

After the younger grandkids arrived, sometimes you'd catch Mom in the mood for a photo...

But not always. Same photographer, different year, much different results!

Is there a camera phobic person in your family? Maybe it's your mom or dad, a sister or brother or maybe even you.

Should you beg and plead for photos or just shoot a lot and hope for the best? If you're lucky, you may capture the perfect photo.

Different things work for different personality types. Sometimes candid shots work well. The camera-shy person may not even know you're taking the photo.

Sometimes it works to ask the person to be in a photograph, but don't push your luck by snapping too many photos.

When you're taking a group photo, try to get the others in the photo to stay focused so when that smile comes, you're ready.

Ask others if their photos came out better than yours. We came across this photo from my daughter's wedding reception years later -- months after Mom and Dad's deaths. Ironically, we found it in one of my mother-in-law's boxes while scanning photos after her death.

Sometimes you'll have better luck when there are multiple photographers all taking the same picture. One of them is bound to come out good.

Telling the person how important the photo is to you may work. Sometime after the younger grandkids were born, I told Mom that I was going to take photos with her in them and that they'd look better if she smiled. Who knew that would work! It also helps if you choose a favorite location, like this one taken on Mom's front porch.

Use a photographer the person loves. We all cherish the series of photos with Mom and Dad with three of their five daughters, taken by my brother-in-law the summer before his death.

Sometimes you can get a little smile when taking photos at a special event, like this one taken when my younger daughter graduated from high school.

As Mom's memory faded, I think she forgot she didn't like having her photo taken. I know she smiled more for the camera and didn't hide her face as often.

This photo of Mom smiling down at her youngest great-grandchild will always be a favorite of mine. The image perfectly captured the love Mom always felt for each of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Many of us who are the family photographer are often absent from the photographs that are tomorrow's memories. Thanks to fellow photographer Robert Copelan for snapping this shot of me.

Whether you're the photographer or the person being photographed, a good photographer can work with the quirks of nature just as they can with the human quirks of unwilling subjects. Use all your photography tricks. In the end, the memories are worth the effort it takes to get the shot.

Look back through your old photographs. Yesterday's photos are today's memories.

If you're the photographer, hand your camera off to someone else to snap a few photos with you in them. One day, your family will thank you.

As a grandmother, I take lots of photos of my grandkids and include myself in some of them. But it's also important to remember that your kids will always be your babies, even when they're grown. So snap a few photos from time to time with them.

Take the time to pose for some photos with your spouse or significant other too. You'll treasure the memories now and later.

One day, the photographs will be the memories someone you love treasures. So turn that frown upside down and smile for the camera. Photographs are memories.

No comments:

Post a Comment