Thursday, July 28, 2016

Memory Now!

I took these photos a couple days ago, as I was backing out of our driveway to go erranding. The shots aren't great, but the moment held the quality of a vivid dream: a memory in the making. At first, Oyo was grave, but then she waved vigorously, moments before I got my phone in hand. Later on, I was simultaneously dismayed and satisfied by their blurry faces. Two of the most central figures in my life, clearly defined from a distance, surrounded in all directions by light and shadow, at the center of the path. And so tiny, that little being! Next to her father, letting her set the pace; and the three of us together, connected by our gaze.

inevitably twigs and stones win out
In her great memoir Hold Still, photographer Sally Mann charged photography with "impoverish[ing] your memory...sort of take[s] away all other senses"; elsewhere, she positioned her medium as untrustworthy, capable of rewriting the experience. Is it inevitable that great art is equally capable of capturing the essence of people/events in a given moment in time and of manipulation, rewriting? Photography does seem especially suited. Her sentiment certainly goes deeper than the snapshots above, but the odd sensation of...feeling nostalgic for something as it's happening? left me grasping at straws.

On the other end of the spectrum from our continual, casual documentation (/rewriting) with our phones, I hereby offer you some of my recent favorite vintage photos. I picked these up on my first visit to the glorious King's Books in Detroit. The photos were jumbled into boxes, as such items usually are, and it can feel a little depressing that their images have come to this -- did their family branches die off? Or just knowledge of them? My own family history is relatively hazy even a couple generations back, though my sister did a wonderful job researching our genealogy a few years back -- life just continues on, so full, so quickly -- how is their space to keep it all alive? But maybe it's exactly the mystery of these images that is so appealing, paired with the fact that family photography was such a special event.
The first one to suck me into the jumbled boxes:

Proper but spirited! Wry sense of humor?
Award for sweetest baby goes to...

Flouffy collars!
A rarity: name on back -- Billy Galbraith
Actually a postcard. Even if staged, I love it.

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