Thursday, September 13, 2012

Say Cheese!

My maternal family comes from Argentina.  My grandfather came from a very small mountain village called Cosquin and had solid Native American blood, there were many children and very little money.  My grandmother's family were Spaniards who made their way south, they were very average middle class, which means that  they were far whiter and more affected, the money situation wasn't all that different.  Once they became engaged, married and eventually had my mother, they carved out a decent life for themselves.  My grandfather made sure that they never wanted for anything, oftentimes working sixteen hours a day without one bit of complaint, but money never became bountiful.

You'd never be able to tell this fact by the plethora of photos I have from those days.  See for yourself.  This is their engagement picture.  They were always impeccably dressed and carried themselves impressively.

You see, I have what I'd estimate at a couple of hundred beautiful photographs very similar to this one, many of them professionally taken, others are incredibly amusing candids which displayed every subject's personality in ways stories could not.  Fact is, someone thought it was very important to do this, and I'm eternally glad that they did.  Anyone that knows me understands that I have close to no solid connection to blood family anymore, most of my maternal family is dead and unfortunately I have little contact with my paternal family.   If I did not have these tangible images, I would feel lost.  I'm absolutely sure of it.  

Which leads me to the here and now.   My parents did a darn good job of documenting my childhood in photos until approximately the age of twelve, which is when I turned into a nasty beast that staunchly refused to pose for a picture.  If I did, it sure looks like I was trying to break the camera with the death lasers that you could practically see shooting out of my eyeballs at the offending photographer.  I continued to avoid cameras until I had kids of my own.  Almost every parent I know feels the need to document the evolvement and growth of their offspring, and I'm no different.  It's just what we do. 

It wasn't until quite a bit of time had gone by before I realized that there were virtually no photographs of me for a block of years.  Some of it was surely the fact that I felt uncomfortable being photographed, the other has to admittedly be that there was no one in my life that felt at all inclined to take my picture.  As a mother, you find yourself taking endless images of your babies, your husband, your friends…. you're like the ghost in the background.  You know you were there, but there is no real evidence of it.  That may not be everyone's experience, but it's definitely how it was for me.  

The moment that I realized this, it must have been around 2006, I started making a concerted effort to take photographs of myself. I knew that if I didn't start, no one else would.  Do not confuse this with the modern day duck-faced teenagers riddling the internet with vain attempts to get attention by taking angled bathroom shots.   I literally panicked at the realization that I probably wouldn't remember what I really looked like at thirty….. shit, I can barely tell you what I ate for dinner last night.   I'd hope that one day someone related to me would care to know as well, just like I hold all of my family photographs dear, so I sucked up the feeling of being a fool taking self images and started snapping away.

Now we are in the age of Facebook, Instagram, smart phones, ect.  It's so easy to grab my iPhone, turn my camera self facing and snap a shot of me at the zoo with my kid, being pissed off in traffic, or giddy at the delight of my day being brightened by a visiting friend.  The world we live in has made it easy to provide a 'my life in pictures' story, and I'm not ashamed to say I do just that.  Why?  It's not because I think I'm beautiful and love taking my own photograph so that I can stare at myself.  That couldn't be further from the truth, believe me on that one.  I do it because I don't want to forget.  I want to remember as much as I can. The important things are critical, the mundane things are just extras that could one day make me smile, laugh or frown, but hopefully trigger a memory that would otherwise be lost forever.  I don't want to disappear completely after I'm gone, either.  That's just raw truth.

So y'all can keep on shaking your heads at my endless stream of photos.  Whether you enjoy them or roll your eyes is not exactly at the forefront of my mind, but I honestly don't mean to be intentionally tiresome.  Promise.   Trust me, I realize that taking pictures and slapping filters on them is an extremely far cry from the artistic and beautifully authentic vintage images that I have in my possession, but I do what I can.   Hopefully someday, someone will be glad that I tried.  


  1. you, my friend, have talent. I enjoy reading your blog, relating to your confessions, laughing at your's human experience and it's timeless. keep taking those candids, I personally, smile at each and every one.

    1. Thank you so much for writing that, dearest friend. I have thirty two followers, and I estimate that about half of them actually keep up with this when I'm regular…. so I don't have illusions that myriads are reading anything I have to say. That's not why I do it, but I'd be a real liar if I said it didn't thrill me to know that someone enjoys what I put out there.

  2. Nicely written :-)

    I always wonder where all the photos and writing we (mine, yours, everyone's) put on the internet will end up. Permanence on the internet is fleeting. All mine were and are on the various sites that have come and gone from myspace to facebook to flickr to instagram. I try to save them off in folders on hard drives and stuff like that. But there's no album I can pull out and show friends and family. I miss that. My photo albums seem to all end when the first digital cameras started getting popular. I wonder if someone will ever come behind me in a hundred years and find a dusty folder on some computer disk that has everything in it. Me, digitally.

    1. Thanks!

      I wonder the same thing. I still have a box of regular photos that are in a closet that never made their way into albums, it coincides with everything going digital, so I can absolutely relate. I used to have grand illusions of doing a Shutterfly album at the end of every year to highlight it and have something tangible, but I admittedly never get around to it. I should probably do that….

  3. Ditto to all of this; literally. ♥