I read a memoir recently, by a well known photographer. She said that she believes that photos steal memories. That by looking at them, we re-create that time and place, until the memory becomes something different than it was originally. I have been thinking about this passage since reading it a few months ago. I thought about her words as I went through the thousands of photos left behind after my grandparents passed. My grandfather you see, fashioned himself as a photographer of sorts. Did he announce his gift, no. Did he lack education and for sure composition, absolutely. Most of the photos were of drab landscapes with no particular focal point. What others miss when they look at these stacks and stacks of photos is that they are what remain of him. They are pieces of how he saw the world. Some over exposed and some under, but a glimpse into his mind nonetheless. He captured the smiles around him, the landscape and his pets and family. He loved and he lived and in the collection of photos, what remains is an overwhelming sense of happiness and joy.
I will cherish these photographs, even if they alter my memory of the events as they took place. I will look upon the old chair sitting in the woods and remember that he saw that every single day he sat in his hunting shack. I will hear his voice chuckle as he watched his dog running around. More over, I will remember to take more photos, so that I can leave pieces of myself for my children, and my children's children.