I gave portraits to my parents and my grandparents for Christmas. They graciously put up with me parading them around and giving them orders. In the end I was pleased as this photography thing is still in it’s learning stages. I didn’t post either of their actual portraits, but I thought I would post this one which was actually one of my favorite gifts I gave this year. This portrait was an afterthought. I took these pictures of my parents holding hands walking out their wooded lane. It would have been quite funny to watch, them walking along, me running up behind them, squatting and shooting. In the end the black and white version was too poignant not to frame as well. I ran out two days before Christmas to get a frame. In the end, this as much as the picture I took of them head on, sums them up for me.
The Oxford Project, Peter Feldstein, Photographer, Stephen G Bloom, Author
This book my mother gave me for Christmas, said she couldn’t wait to give it to me. I list the photographer first because it is the photos that make up the project. Peter went to to this town in 1984, to photograph all 676 residents. Then of his own volition he returned 20 years later to photograph them again. In this photo you can catch a bit of the boy and the man together. The book shows them side by side. The photos are true, real people, small town folks as they are or were so to speak. The words are those of the people themselves, their words about accomplishments, failures, loss, love, life.
“In 1940, Harry and I were working at a bee factory in Harlan, and when I came back from lunch one day, he was filling my jars. That night we met at the county fair and had our picture taken, and that was that”.
“There used to be a hat store in town. I wish it still was here. I love hats.”
Really though what touched me even more was that my Mom found this for me. That she knew how much I love the lens of a camera, that she knew how much I would love these stories and that she has encouraged me in my passion. I feel sometimes as if I have never really succeeded in anything. I am not an expert or a scholar in anything. There has never really been anything in my life that anyone could say, you are really good at this, you should continue…
My mother said to me Christmas day, “You take pictures of people that are real. They aren’t dressed up or glamourized, but somehow you bring out the best parts of them. You capture them”.
Can anyone explain that feeling you get when your mother compliments you? My camera and I have a long way to go. We have no formal training together, but we have an easy partnership. We are learning to complement each other. There are many amazing photographers out there, making amazing pictures. But my camera and I, we are documenting this bit of life and it may seem boring, it may seem mundane, but there are beautiful moments in there. A drop of rain, a blooming flower, a smile, a frown, a pair of hands. It is in these things, that I have found beauty in life, sometimes where I never noticed it before.