So, this is part one of a series of I’m not sure how many will end up here, but I wanted to talk about influences in my life and how they’ve inspired what I’m doing now, giving each major influence their own dedicated post.
For the first choice, it only feels right to go with my grandma. She wouldn’t have known it when she was alive, but she is actually one of the biggest influences for me wanting to take up photography on a professional level, as she was always taking pictures of everyone and everything when I was younger. I think there must have been hundreds of pictures displayed in the old house, and like a million more tucked away in photo albums and envelopes in cabinets and drawers throughout the house.
I remember in the ninth grade, I went on a field trip to the Hearst Castle, grandma made me take her camera with me. It was an old 35mm film Vivitar, so whatever pictures I took that day I had to wait two weeks to actually see, but that was a huge turning point for me. I knew at that point that I wanted to travel to all these cool places and capture all these awesome moments. I just knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life, when I grew up… but I was raised to believe that was too expensive, that I’d need to be rich to travel like that, to live a life like that… and my family was far from rich, so I never even thought to try.
My grandma also made me want to see the world the way she saw it in her younger days. I know that’s impossible, I can’t go back in time and visit places she’s been or see things through her eyes, but it does inspire me to at least try… if not the places she went, then other places filled with history.
Grandma was a storyteller. She would tell the same stories about “the old days” over and over, and I never once got tired of hearing those stories. I lived for them, and I would give anything to sit down and hear them all just one more time. Because of that, I feel like I’ve grown to appreciate history, not only my grandma’s, but everyone’s. Many of her stories were about experiences with her siblings and parents when she was just a little girl, living back during the second world war. I couldn’t retell her stories and capture the essence she gave them if I tried.
Maybe it’s because of her stories, or maybe it’s because of all the old photographs I saw lying around the house when I was growing up, but I’ve always believed that sites of historical significance have their own story to tell, much like the stories grandma told me of her past. Some good, some not so good… but all of them worthy of being heard. All of them important enough to be known. As a traveler, and as a photographer, one of my goals will ultimately be to visit as many historically significant sites as I can and try to capture the stories that were once told. Just because history is done and a part of the past doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect us now, or that it won’t in the future. Just because the moments I’m looking to capture are in the past doesn’t mean they don’t leave a certain essence behind.
So thank you yet again, grandma. I know you probably never expected for your old photographs or your awesome stories of the good old days to inspire something this big. I hope to make you proud.