wedding albums and your personal history
Some of us are lucky enough to still have our parents wedding album lying around somewhere, or at least know where to locate it. I have had my parents book for MANY years, and had wrapped it in a saran-like shipping plastic to ‘keep it safe’. I was always very cautious as to where I stored it and rarely opened it to look at ( since I had it sealed like I was rocketing it into outer space or something ). What I was keeping it safe from i’m not even sure, but I always felt the need to protect it. It was huge, VERY heavy and smelled like an old basement. It was 59 years old. They were married in 1955.
When I look at their album and wedding images, I think all sorts of things. Did they get to choose their photos? Were they happy with them at the time? ( MY moms eyes are closed in one!) Did they often look at it to relive the day? I wonder if they ever thought I would end up with or care about it?
Perhaps I tried to safeguard the album as I always saw it as a tangible link to my parents, who had both passed away at relatively young ages. It was something of theirs I could actually hold on to. My mom died quickly over a 3 month period the summer I got out of high school. My Dad passed when I was about 30. Both were very different as one was sudden and one took many years. I’m not sure which way is easier, but both were pretty horrible and pivotal moments for me as you can imagine.
Flash forward some 60 years and would of thunk it, but here I AM having photographed zillions of weddings since I started some 20+ years ago. I’ve lost count to be honest, but it HAS to be somewhere over 600 if I had to guess. (As I often like to joke: that’s a LOT of matrimony and agitated brides) In that time I have created many albums, prints and image collections for couples. It’s really easy to get wrapped up in the technical and timing aspects of a wedding day and forget the core reason you are there, until you’re given a small reminder. I’ll spot an engagement photo framed and placed in a location of prominence in the brides Mothers living room. I’ve seen my photos attached to the fridge. I have seen spots on the wall left ‘open’ awaiting the new couples framed wedding image to add to the family history. I’ve seen them turned into profile pix on Facebook.
Every now and then I would unwrap my parents book and go through it, and the last time I decided to keep it unwrapped, as having it sealed just seemed silly at this point. What was I saving it for anyway? After thinking long and hard I made a somewhat harsh decision recently to completely disassemble it, scan all the photos and create a new version of it for myself. There was a high degree of guilt to be certain, in ripping apart and discarding something that had lasted all these years, but I wanted to make something that I would actually look at, hold and appreciate.
I actually really enjoy making albums, and when I design one for my couples, I always think about my parents book. I think about what it will mean to them now when they receive it, but what it will eventually mean to their kids, parents, great-grand kids—who knows. I don’t take the process lightly.
I know there is some discussion about whether a physical album is a dated concept, as some people argue that digital versions are adequate, or simply having photos in an iPad would suffice. I really do not want to go into that here , although I love the example of running to a burning home and deciding whether to take a photo album or flash drive—but that’s another blog post…
Remember this one thing if you are a photographer: YOU are now the person taking the photos that will eventually – to SOMEONE – end up having a meaning and importance beyond anything you can fathom when you click that shutter button. Details and environment are important and fun, but like me and my parents photos, there is far more meaning and love in a singular classic image that you can hold on to.
Who knows how we will be preserving our images in the future. Perhaps it will be in a traditional album or something we cannot even imagine at this point in time: some new digital format not yet dreamed into reality. Yet regardless of the final format, content and meaning will always stay the same.
Time and formats will change and pass, but emotions will always stay the same.
So with that, I wanted to share my scans here! The first set of color ones are some slide I scanned and repaired, the remaining B&W are all the 8×10 prints I removed from their original book
Nothing too stagey here!!
You’ll note its her DAD and not a limo driver in the photo–-hint-hint, limo people…..
My dad looks a bit zoned out here!
That’s IT! I’m bringing drapes with me to weddings from now on!!
I always look at this and see the empty chairs thinking–was anybody invited??!!
look at that: an early version of the ‘farmhouse’ family style table!
thank GOD this was pre-Brandy Glass, as this shot is teetering on that edge!!!
by the way–obviously I did not take these, but just slapped my logo them for this post–think i’ll get sued?