Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bringing The Past And Present Together In A Photograph

This week I am challenged to photograph my family in a unique way.  The timing of this project couldn't be more perfect.  As I blogged about it earlier, I am going through all of the boxes in my garage to either donate or sell.  This also means going through boxes and boxes of old photographs.  Many of these photos I haven't seen since I packed them away...whenever that was.

I read an entry on the Lenscratch blog about another site called, Dear Photograph.  This site posts photographs of photographs taken in the past into the present.  I loved the idea and decided to go through the box of photographs I collected to see if I had any from my childhood home taken outside.  I sorted through what I had and found a few taken in the front of the house and in the backyard.  I decided to take a trip to my childhood home to see if I could line up the photographs I had.

I haven't been to this house in over twenty years.  Even though it's only thirty minutes from where I live today, there hasn't been a reason to be in that area.  As I drove near, my instincts took over and directed me to my old home.  Needless to say, it was quite the experience.  Everything seemed so big as a child.  The neighborhood was the same but different at the same time.  I must have been driving about 10MPH in the neighborhood recalling experiences as a child as I approached the house.  I parked, gathered some photos and knocked on the door, not knowing what to expect.

A soft voice behind the door asked, "who is it? who's there?" What do you say to that?  I just said, "hi, I used to live here." She opened the door slowly to see who I was and what I wanted.  I extended the photos and said that I used to live there and wanted permission to take photographs around the house.  I don't think she really understood what I was trying to do but once she saw photos of her home and what it looked like in the 70's and early 80's she smiled and greeted me.  She wanted to see everything I had.  I showed her the photos, identifying myself, neighbors, my mom, grandparents and told her what it was like living there as a child.  She took me out to the backyard to show me what it looked like. I haven't seen that backyard since I was 14.  My father built a koi pond that is still there today.  She said that birds would eat all of the big fish so it's filled with smaller fish.  My dad also loved to take care of his bonsai and all of the plants on the property.  She said that she loves the flowers in the front and loves the koi pond.  She told me to tell him thank you.  He has since passed, but it was sweet to hear.

She saw a photograph of my mother standing next to the olive tree in the front and kept looking at it saying how beautiful my mother is.  I asked her if I could take he photograph and she said yes.  As I snapped it, I noticed her standing in the same way as my mother stood, as well as wearing stripes and jeans (see above).  We chatted for a long time and she even moved her car out of the driveway so I could take photographs and she also let me walk in the backyard to take more pictures.  She even came out with a bag of apples for me to take home.  I am very fortunate to have had this experience.  I will remember it forever.

Letting go of my things gave me much more than I expected.  I am grateful for the fifteen years I had in this home and for the experience I had yesterday.  Even though my father and grandparents are not longer with me physically, I feel them coming back to life through these photographs.  Below are a few I found and recreated.

How did I do it?  There really isn't a trick but just try to line up the photograph with the scene.  It's not as easy as it looks, especially if you are the person holding it and shooting it.  They aren't all perfect, but as perfect as I could get it. These are all straight out of the camera taken with my iphone and point and click.  I would highly recommend this experience to everyone.

One thing I know for goes by too fast.  Not to get all preachy on you or anything, but try to enjoy all of the moments you have now with your loved ones.  Listen to what your parents and grandparents say, take photographs, appreciate what you have and don't obsess about the things you don't have.

Me and my grandmother, "Mama Lois" in the backyard

With all of the kids on the block on our first day of school

All of us on our way to school

Being silly in front of the camera
Leaving on our family road trip.  That's my mother, me, my brother, grandmother "Mama Lois", and grandfather "Big John."  My dad took the photo.  Yes, we all got in that car and drove from Los Angeles to Vancover, B.C.

The backyard, then and now

My brother and I
My close neighbors, Carrie, Sandy and Chris the first day of school.

Riding a pony on the front lawn.  A guy with a pony would walk around the neighborhood asking if you wanted to take a photograph on it.

Me with my really sweet haircut in my extra cool swim sweats

My mom, haming it up in her satin pants

Me holding our family cat, colors

First day of school (seems like the only time we took photographs in the front)

And finally, on my big wheel.  I loved this thing...jumped on it right when I got home from school every day.


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