The Importance of Photographs

Not long ago, I met up with a lovely friend of mine for dinner and a chinwag.  The food and company was fab as always, but a part of our conversation left me a little bit sad.  Someone in her family was getting married but wasn’t bothered about photographs in the slightest – she hadn’t arranged anything and thought maybe guests might take photos throughout the day.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect people to be as bonkers about photography as I am, but to not really want any record of your wedding at all?  That made me a little sad for her.

One thing I’ve started to understand is that photos are important.  Really, really important. You might not realise now, because they might not matter to you so much.  But your photos will matter to someone.

I went to visit my parents a couple of years ago and one evening my Dad unearthed what I thought was absolute treasure – family photos I’d never seen before, going back a few generations.  He’d recently been given them by another member of the family for safekeeping.  There were lots of photos – of my family, of my dad when he was young, of people we couldn’t recognise, of serious faces, of laughing faces, of family pets, of houses, of holidays.  The most precious ones to me though were ones of my paternal grandparents, both of whom passed away when I was relatively young and who I never got to know.  I remember fragments of them – dancing in the living room with my grandad, or making marzipan with my nan.  But it’s all a bit sketchy and it really breaks my heart that I never knew them properly.

At least now I have this:

I make no apologies for the fact that my grandad would appear to be THE coolest guy in the world 🙂  Gotta love that pipe!  And how happy does my nan look?

And then there’s these two photos which my nan and grandad sent to each other during the second world war when my grandad was posted to the middle east.  The best thing about these photos? The declarations of love written on the back (which I won’t write out, you guys don’t need to hear that 😉 ).

And just to complete the picture, here they are with me, many many years later 😉

I was the first girl in – would you believe – THREE generations of boys, so they were chuffed when I came along.  I love this photo.

That’s only part of the story, because a very short while ago I lost my maternal grandfather.  I’m really grateful that at least I knew him while I was an adult, but he lived several thousand miles away in Hong Kong so I didn’t get a chance to see him as much as I would’ve liked.  When I received the bad news, the first thing I did was to get my album of photographs.  It was a way of being nearer.

Here he is, I’m told, on his wedding day with my grandma, both looking positively regal.

Another photo I love more than I have words for.

Photos are SO important.

K x

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17 thoughts on “The Importance of Photographs

  1. You are so right, photos are priceless, beautiful memories! I love the b&w pic of your paternal parents, your grandad surely looks very cool indeed with his pipe 🙂 xxx

  2. ditto everything you said about photos being important. a little story from me… my maternal grandad died 6 months before i was born, he was an avid photographer. 2 weeks ago i went, with my mum, to a golden wedding party for which she’d been the bridesmaid 50yrs ago. what i didn’t know until we got there was that my grandad had been their wedding photographer and there was the album, in all it’s glory. a lump leapt to my throat, the thought still makes me teary. these were images he’d made 50 years ago to the day, he’d printed them in their kitchen, lovingly made the album, and they were good, really good. the more i know of my grandad the more i know we would have been best friends. 🙂

    • That is a LOVELY story, Claire!!! I’m sad that you never got to know your grandad but I love how you still have that connection with him. And it’s so brilliant that you have that tangible thing to know him by, all those photos!! xxxx

  3. I completely agree! I love looking through old photos. In fact, I think I love photos more with a bit of distance between Now, and Then. I was really upset when my family threw away a load of photos that my granny had kept, but recently found out that a selection were saved, and they’re priceless (especially the ones that you would delete if you took them digitally!). I think I believe that more now as I’m thinking about having kids in the next few years, and wanting to have something to show where they come from. Only photos do that for me.

    Your grandparents on both sides look amazingly cool

    • I know EXACTLY what you mean about how photos get better with time. I was editing a wedding this morning and was annoyed because there’s a car in one of my shots as they’re walking to the venue. I was trying to crop it out nicely but it wouldn’t work. Then I thought hey, it might just be an ugly Citroen or something but in even 10 years time that will look interesting, not just an eyesore. And imagine in 30,40, 50 years time!

      Urgh, so sorry to hear that your family threw photos away (!!!!!! why?!!?!). I’m glad a few were saved, though. And you’re so right, it’s for future generations, those people who come after you, who are part of you and want to know you. There’s something so lovely about being able to see your bloodline and knowing where you come from.

      xxxx

  4. Photographs are vitally important. While of course your memory stores things for eternity it doesn’t always store it in the exact way or infact in some cases it gets buried away for eternity within your memory never to be recalled again. However a photography is an exact record of history. There for you to recall in an instant. It captures moments that we don’t recall or even see. For instance that cool bag that your Granddad is carrying or the people sitting down or the little girl in the background. Or the wonderful patterned carpet and cushions in the photograph of you as a baby with your Grandparents! I wish I had been into photography for many years because I would love to have captured more memories from my past. Thank you for sharing these treasured memories with us, they truly are beautiful and priceless.

    T xx

    • So true, Tracey, it’s all those little details that’d otherwise get lost. Though I’m not sure we really need to remember those patterned carpet and cushions lol! Thank you for your lovely comment though and for sharing on FB, I really appreciate it 🙂 xx

  5. I will never tire of pouring over family albums. My aunt has a fantastic collection of photo albums going back several generations and I die with happiness every tie I look through them. Even just going back to my university pics and family holiday snaps (of which there are many – I was obsessed even then) makes me oh so happy. I bloody love photography. Not only can we make pretty pictures for today – we can also hold onto moments full of wonder for future generations to cherish. I’m grinning from ear to ear just thinking about it (but happily admit I cried reading your post). x

    • Awww, bless you lovely, sorry for making you cry 😉 But I have to admit, I got a bit weepy writing it! You’ll have to show us some of your old photos one day, sounds like you have a fab collection! x

  6. This got me really quite bleary-eyed. To my mind there aren’t enough hours in the day to spend going through photos, ancient or recent. I hope your friend’s relative changes her mind about a wedding photographer. And I’m so proud and awed by your decision to help others record their memories (am getting Happy Farmer By The Harbour blown up one of these days…!)xx

  7. Yes, yes and yes! I love photos. However, our wedding photos were such a disaster that we don’t have a framed photo from the big day or a proper album. There is one okayish shot of me in my frock but not one ‘good’ one of Hub and me. If only you were taking photos back then! I think it is a family curse because my parents wedding photos were a disaster too (just two shots survived and they aren’t looking at the camera in either one!).
    PS This made me cry too!

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