I just read a headline in my inbox stating that photography has been the key to the survival of America’s National Parks. How photographs have shaped the parks over their 100 year history, drawing crowds that have in turn brought money and the urge to save the land. It made me immediately think about the importance of documentary family photography in the modern family. If photographs can be touted as the save all for something so vast, how are we utilizing them in our own lives?
How can the simple family photograph save the American family?
The societal pressure on the family is tough right? For many years and much of our lives, we have strived to look like others in one way or another. For our house to be more perfect, for our kids to be smarter, for our dirty laundry to be hidden. Through real family photographs, this artificial pressure is finally starting to fall away. Consequently, having images of how we feel, look, react plus the voice of social media to show off these images is allowing us to finally talk openly and candidly. These photographs of what life is really like allow us to take some of that pressure off ourselves and just be. They give us breathing room.
Photos are about memories, right?
We talk about how photographs “save memories”. We think about them in reference to how we will react to them in a future time or space. We hold photographs in the abstract of time.
What about the here and now?
What about what photographs do for us at this moment?
You see, a special thing happens when we have family photos taken. In that exact moment we hear the click we are reminded that we are lucky, we are special, and we are loved. It’s like Pavlov’s dog salivating to a bell, that click reminds us what family really means to us.
Take all that pressure we talked about before and add in the insanely busy lives we lead and you get a forgetful family. A family that forgets that they really like each other deep down. That we do enjoy spending time together. That we don’t have to do things that are grandiose to be reminded that family is awesome.
Now is a great time to use photographs to shape the American family. To illustrate what is real in our lives. We are telling our daughters and sons that life is ok if we aren’t perfect. Life can be messy and loud or quiet and clean. It can be overwhelming and full of joy. It’s unpredictable and sometimes full of crap, but we just have to keep moving through it. Celebrate all the moments in your life, not just the highlight real of fun!