Photographs and Memories: Old and New

Posted: under Photography, Travel.
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Bill and Dell

After my father proposed to my mother, he took a job in Austria working for the State Department.  A year later she flew to Austria and married him.  That was quite an adventure for a farmgirl from Tennessee!  The year was 1956.

My parents took every opportunity to explore Europe.  My father bought a VW bus and most weekends they would travel, sometimes in one direction until they spent half their money, then head home.

They would ask farmers if they could camp in their fields, and often were invited in for a meal.  My father was an honest-to-goodness polyglot.  He knew so much of so many languages, he seemed able to communicate with anyone anywhere.  I wish I had inherited his gift for languages.  It was a tremendous comfort to him during his retirement when he suffered from chronic insomnia.  He would listen to foreign radio broadcasts on his short-wave radio for hours on end.

My parents saw a Europe that was rapidly passing away.

Austrian parade










My father captured great images with a camera, taking more than 2000 slides.  He photographed not only the tourist highlights, but also street scenes and landscapes.

From the Tower of Pisa

Austrian border








Unfortunately these wonderful images were stored in carousels, and  packed away, where the slides were deteriorating and the images fading fast.  Spots were developing and everything was turning yellow.

San Marino elections

My dad, looking mysterious








Dad and his VW bus

Looking oh-so European










I love how the photographer is captured in the mirror!

After twelves months, my parents returned to the United States.  Because of family obligations and health problems, they never again traveled to Europe.

Dad's VW lowered onto American soil. The first one in the state of Tennessee!


I wanted to rescue these family heirlooms from ruin.  I sent the slides off to a company called Fotobridge and had them scanned, saved as jpegs, and transfered to DVDs.  I was so please with the results.  They not only took care of the originals, but also white-balanced the images.







So why I am telling you this?  Because few things seem to glue memories into our mind as well as photographs.  Even though I was not with my parents in Europe, their photographs recall to me the stories they told me of the places they traveled and the things they saw.  It seems like every parent owes it to their children to document those memories.


Even if “shutter speed” and “f-stop” are like foreign words to you, there is almost no excuse for not taking good photographs of your children.  Decent digital cameras can be easily acquired, and there is an abundance of tutorials available to guide anyone to better results.  But the next important step is to keep the camera available and readily USE IT.  You may snap a hundred exposures before achieving one fabulous shot, but it will be so worth it.  Our children grow so quickly and change everyday.  The experiences that are fresh and new to them today may seem uninterestingly familiar tomorrow.


This was brought home to me this past Sunday, on Mother’s Day.  My goal was to tidy up the kitchen and then dress for morning worship.  My baby girl was determined to twart me.


Caught in the act - again!

My children had given me two bouquets of apricot-colored roses.  My favorite.  My husband had given me a bouquet of spring flowers, which he had delivered  and had waiting for me at the Pink House Restaurant when he took me there for dinner on Friday night.  Very classy.

Touching the flowers

Smelling the flowers

Sharing her bagel









Every time I turned my back, my baby girl was up on the table, messing with the flowers.  Touching them.  Smelling them.  Feeding her bagel to them.  She was delighting in them, and I could not keep her away.  I had to set aside my frustration and instead take pleasure in the moment. I grabbed the nearest camera and tried to capture her joy.

Acting so innocent

She is already a bigger girl than she was a few days ago.  And the flowers have lost their magic for her.  How thankful I am that I captured a few snapshots of her delight. When I am an old lady, I should like to remember that day.




Comments (2) May 11 2011