Monday, February 1, 2010

Why photography is important

This is an image that I believe sums up my mother's life at present and documents her current history. It was shot recently using an almost 50 year-old Rolleiflex, on the occasion of my Dad's 84th birthday.
Over the past few years my father has increasingly suffered spinal degeneration that has necessitated he walk with the aid of a "walker" and even that is a slow and difficult process. Thankfully his mind remains as sharp as a tack.
But his physical condition has dramatically increased the burden on my mother and means she pretty well must take care of my Dad constantly as he has, on occasion, fallen and injured himself.
She is reluctant to leave the house and leave him on his own even to go shopping or to church for a short while. Yet she remains cheerful.

A photo that tells a story

I wanted to take a picture that tells that story so future generations will know something about her and what sort of person she was.
In this image, the walker looms large and is overpowering, to show the influence it has on her life. The blinds on the widow look like prison bars yet she continues to smile.
It's not a "pretty" picture but to me it's important.
Over the years I have became acutely aware of how rapidly the world has changed and how personal and family history is simply fading into dim memories or disappearing competely.
But it is the images and stories of the ordinary man and woman that are most interesting. They are your vital legacy that must be kept for future generations because that is all that will tell your story in years to come.
Your lifestyle, environment, milestones, relationships, family and friends are patches in the quilt of who you are. It is your history and life and it is important.
This realisation has caused me to shift change focus and concentrate on documenting family histories, working with couples and families throughout South Africa.

My Dad

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