Your Photos: Just How Important Are They?

A Kite String

This photo is of Dad, me, Kathy, and Mom at the Bridgeport General Store in 1970, watching the Fourth of July parade. Though I'd just turned three, I remember that day; the gray sky filled with billowing thunder caps, the horse-drawn wagon I struggled to see, and the photographer that frustrated me by being in the way of my view. Best of all, I remember feeling safe because my Dad was so strong as he put me up on those bricks.

This photo is one of the threads in the kite string between us. All photos of my dad are like a kite string that ties me to him—my kite—as it's carried away by the wind; a metaphor for his passing. The memories full of light, color, and life inspired by each picture soothe the pain of loss.

Which makes me wonder: What would I do if I lost my photos?

If You Lost Your Photos, What Would You Do?

Would you start over, creating new images and stories? Would you write down the old stories and share them, even if there weren't photographs to bring these stories home visually?

If all my photographs disappeared tomorrow, I'd be upset, confused, and ready for a fight. But, I wonder if I wouldn't be a little relieved, too; the burden of managing and organizing them, gone.

Yet, how many times have I forgotten an experience or moment that was important to me? How many times has my photo collection, or revisiting it on a regular basis, helped me recall things I care about that have been usurped by things I must care about (like, remembering how to solve and graph systems of equations so that I can help Duncan do the same). My photos matter a great deal to me.

Still, photographs are just things. They're not people. So how much of a loss would it really be?

As I think about that slideshow we made for Dad's Celebration of Life, I know the answer.  I'd be crushed. Then, I'd pick up my camera and go to work to capture as many memories—weave as much kite string—as I could.

 

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