On photography and memories

As I have been scanning and backing up photos over the past few days, I have found some photos that really start the memories flowing.
Many photos are of grandparents, great grandparents, their siblings or other relatives that are important for the knowledge of my roots however I didn’t really know too many of these people well. Some I have never met but know only through photos, notes scribbled on the back and the stories of my relatives. I can look at them and see  my children, cousins, nieces and nephews (and even myself) in these faces from long ago.
Then there are the photos of people that I have known, loved …. and lost.
My little brother was the King of the Selfies (long before selfies became popular amongst the young of today). I recall having photos from my camera developed and finding one or two photos of a familiar face amongst them upon picking them up from the chemist (or other photo lab).
As I have been going through photos my mother gave me a few months ago, I have spent time laughing at the number of ‘selfies’ of my baby brother and the silly faces that he is pulling in many of the photos.
Mingled with the laughter is sadness that I now have only photos and memories of him to recall his antics. I am blessed that the photos I have are not all posed but show him as he truly was. I guess if there is one good thing about the selfie, it is that it shows the person being themselves. (Chalk one up for the selfie).

Of course I have found many other selfies taken by my children amongst my digital files also. These have caused me to smile as well.
Many would say that I created a monster with my Tween because she grew up with the camera always in her face or around her. It is true that she likes to pose for the camera but I am so pleased that she is now so comfortable around them that she can be herself when one is pointed in her direction. I spent a lot of time laughing at a disk of photos I found (that were taken by my sister in law) of the Tween and her cousins. With her lens, she has captured perfectly the crazy, quirky character that is my little girl.

Then there are the photos I have found of my beloved grandmother that show the Granny that I grew up with and loved dearly. There she is posing for the camera with a bottle of champagne in her hand, or dressed in her apron and hanging the washing on the line. The photos taken in the last year of her life are heartbreaking to me as gone are the sparkling eyes and mischievous smile I remember. However these photos show the progression of her journey through the years. Although they make me sad, I am pleased that I have them.

I found my baby brother’s birth notice and photo in a bundle of photos that had been given to me several months ago and recalled that we didn’t even know we had a baby brother until he was three months old.
As I scanned the image my mind took me back to that day.
It was a Sunday, and my younger brother and I were out with our father visiting an aunt and uncle at the new house they had built upon acreage on the banks of the Logan River. We ran down to the river and played along its banks (as only children aged 10 and 11 know how to) whilst the adults engaged in adult talk back up at the house. Afterwards, we found a spot in the grass and lay looking at the sky trying to outdo each other with what shapes we could see in the clouds above. My brother then said quietly “Sis, wouldn’t it be great if we got back to Granny’s house and Mum was there?” I replied that I thought it would be wonderful but that there was no point in dreaming things like that because our mother lived in Sydney and we only communicated through letters and phone calls. The last time we had seen her was nearly two years previously.
I don’t recall any of the conversation after that or what the rest of the day held but I do remember arriving home at my grandmother’s house. After saying our farewells to our father, Granny told us to put our things in our room. Imagine our shock and surprise to find our mother sitting on my brother’s bed nursing a little baby! I can still see it in my mind. So much to take in. My mother was there!
And I had a brother! Really?
The biggest shock of all came when my mother told us that we were going to be returning to Sydney with her.
So much shock. So much pain and upheaval. So much joy.

Isn’t it funny the impact that photos can have upon us?

I have been horrified of photos of myself (also taken by my sister in law) at a birthday party earlier this year. Upon finding these, I immediately got up from my computer, went to my walk in robe and pulled the top I was wearing in the photos off the hanger and put it into the charity bag! I was devastated at how large I looked, how wrong that colour was on me and I was saddened.

So many emotions from a photo!

I am so pleased that I find joy behind the lens of a camera. I am of the opinion that cameras hold so much power over our lives. They capture moments in time that allow us to recall and relive memories and feelings.
Photos are a snapshot of our lives. Upon gazing at them, they allow us to recall homes, pets, fashion, past loves, old cars etc.  and the love we have for others.
When I see a beautiful photo, I am uplifted.
When I see a candid (or selfie) photo of someone I love/d, I am blessed.

Life is a collection of moments and cameras capture those moments.

What a privilege it is to be able to record those moments with a camera myself and by doing so allow someone else to experience the same kind of joy that I have felt this week in my walk down memory lane.
I am truly blessed.

19 thoughts on “On photography and memories

  1. You didn’t need a photograph of walking in on your mother, returned to you with a baby brother — I can see it clear as day. Made me cry, Sue. Granted, I was already mourning the grandmother bit, but that was a fabulous image. Bittersweet. Too complex for a child’s mind, let alone a camera.
    Great post. Evocative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I don’t need a photo of that day but the photo of my little brother bought those memories back.
      I’m sorry I made you cry. Seeing the photos of my grandmother in her last year of life, I see an old woman and not the grandmother that my younger self knew. Whilst it is sad, I am still pleased I have those photos.
      I agree that there is much in my childhood that I am pleased wasn’t captured by camera but the good times were and that is what is important. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely words Sue. Without a photograph you have given us a snapshot of different parts of your life through your words. Snapshots come in different forms, not just by a photo. Thanks for the glimpse into your journey through your memories!


  3. I love your post Suz!! And yes it brought tears to my eyes!! these little moments in time that are gone but still bring up so much emotion!! The first nations people here in N. America never wanted their photos taken because they thought it captured their souls!! And if we are imprinted on time then indeed there is a part of us left in each moment. Photographs are the reflections of these moments in time!! Beautiful post Suz!!


    1. I know that the indigenous peoples here in Australia also held similar beliefs. I know that there are warnings on some television documentaries if the show contains and indigenous person who has since passed on.
      Maybe the First Nations were onto something because I truly believe that photos capture a person (and not always in their best light either lol).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I especially loved the scene you created of walking in and finding your mother and a little brother.
    That memory is worth a thousand photographs, every photo tells a story, if we try to understand the times it was taken in, the hardships , the pleasures and turmoils, the upheavals and celebrations, all combined make a story that would accompany any family tree.


  5. I just came across some photos in my genealogy files of my dad during WWII, and later. Lots of memories flooded my mind. After the few tears that fell, I was so thankful for the memories they brought up.


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