Generations of Storytellers

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My great-grandfather

I’m not surprised at all that I fell in love with photography.  My great-grandfather took thousands of photos in his day, some of which I have displayed in my home.  He was a Design Engineer by trade paying close attention to detail, so it’s no wonder he took care to note on the back of photographs the place, people and date that each image was captured.  His greatest talent with the camera was demonstrated in the creative aspect of the photo; telling a story with artistic images (put aside the difficult processing and technical challenges of the cumbersome camera he carried!).  He was a master at capturing moments and composition.  I admire that skill, perspective and artistry.

Professional photographers generally follow specific rules to achieve a balanced form of composition.  Some elements include the use of symmetry, depth, viewpoint and leading lines.  What will your eyes be drawn to in a photograph?  How are your subjects framed in the image?  Whether my great-grandfather studied composition rules or not, his photographs went further than any rules by rewarding the viewer of the image with a story and memories filled with emotion.

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My father, great-grandfather and grandfather

Both of my grandfathers spent equal amounts of time with a camera or video camera in their hands (there are miles of video tape and boxes of slides of me and my brother to prove it), each interpreting the rules in composition differently but still grabbing your heartstrings.  When it came time, it was inevitable that my father’s years of camera “exposure” turned to a love of photography and storytelling.

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My father’s early camera days

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As an adult my father was the first in my family to use a camera professionally.  Advertising and marketing were my father’s thing and he was really, REALLY good at it.  And while he knew the importance of having the right copy for the ad, it was the image that he relied on to make the biggest impact.

My father is one of the greatest storytellers I know (ask anyone who’s heard one of his many stories).  What they may not know (unless they get his yearly New Years card) is that he’s also a fabulous photographic storyteller.  He’s a genius at using unique perspectives to give the story life; angling the camera this way, laying on the ground shooting upwards, hanging off a stone wall, or standing on top of a ladder for the best aerial shot.  Believe it or not, most of these techniques are just to get the PERFECT family Christmas photo!  We often joke and call him “Oliver Stone” for his directing.

When I turned to photography professionally, I unquestionably followed in my father’s, grandfathers’s and great-grandfather’s footsteps… by following (and even breaking!) the composition rules in photography, creating imagery that tells a story, and even laying on the ground for the shot (“It ain’t a photo shoot unless Tine’s laying on the ground.”).

Father’s Day is this coming Sunday.  I couldn’t think of a better way to thank my father for his guidance, mentorship, help with editing my copy (he tells me I use too many commas, haha), critiquing (never criticizing!) my work, his love and his support of my growing photographic journey.

Happy Father’s Day to my favorite storyteller, my Papa, and to all the awesome storytelling dads out there!

Happy Father’s Day, Papa!