Tuesday, February 19, 2013

'Captured with the click of a shutter'


So very grateful am I to have the old photographs that I have, although they are fewer in number than I would like.  Each time I see a fellow blogger post 'found' photographs of an ancestor, my heart leaps for them because I know the joy such photos bring to me, and I imagine they feel the same way.

Often I find myself looking intently into the faces of those in the photos I do have, wondering what they are thinking, wondering what life was like for them at just that very moment.  Did they 'pose' as we might do when a photograph is taken? Did they dislike having photos taken, or mistrust the medium of photography? Did they think they had 'a good side', and prefer to be photographed from that angle?  In some photos it is clear that all the rules of portraiture were not yet in play, as those pictured look very uncomfortable posing for posterity.

It is, I suppose, easy for us who do family history research to judge a past life in its entirety, since we have knowledge that the individuals pictured did not have at the time these photos were taken. We know at least some details about how their lives were lived, how they ended, and how their stories turned out. In the very moment when they posed before the cameras they could not possibly know all that life would bring to them.

I was thinking about this a while ago as I looked at some photographs of my father when he was a child, such as the one above. In the picture my father is the little boy with the shy smile seated in the front on the far right. There were times, when I was growing up, that I observed my father in solitude, and at those times he seemed to have a heavy heart. There was a sort of shadow that would come over his face, sadness hung heavy in the room, and he would be lost in thought. When I look at the few images that I have from his childhood there is none of this, no sadness, no longing; there is only sheer joy in his face. Sometimes I wish I could climb into those old photographs and share the energy of that joy with him. It is enough to know that he experienced it, and it is good to be reminded that he had joy in his childhood, no matter what else life brought his way.

For me, no matter how small it may be, a picture or a photograph really is worth a thousand words, and much more, because it encapsulates the emotions, hopes, and dreams that were there in that very moment in which our loved ones were captured with the click of a shutter.

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Copyright©irisheyesjg2013.
Click on image to view larger version.
In the photo: Magee and Geraghty family members on holiday at Rush, North County Dublin.
My father Michael is the little boy in the front row, far right. His eldest brother Patrick is in the front row, far left.
Their first cousin Rita Magee is front row centre, the other children are her siblings.
Adults standing: Mollie Magee Halpin and her brother Frank Magee.
Adults seated: left: Anne Maher Magee (Frank's wife); right: great-grandmother Mary Dunne Magee.

10 comments:

  1. Funny you should come up with this as the other day I found a box of my late uncles containing many old photo's I have yet to go through.

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    1. Hello Bill,

      Thanks for your comments. Found photos? Good for you! I hope you find lots of treasures within.

      Cheers to you,
      Jennifer

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  2. A lovely post Jennifer...it brought to mind my recent photo post about my own grandfather. I completely misjudged his age, I think because he looked so carefree...we are both blessed and "cursed" to know what came to our relatives in the years after a photo was taken.

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    1. Hello Pauleen,

      Thanks for your comments. So true, as you say, that it is a blessing and a curse to know what became of our family members. Your photo of your grandfather, and possibly misjudging his age, reminds us that a snap shot captures only a moment in time, and how much things can change so very quickly.

      Cheers to you,
      Jennifer

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  3. Reading your post took me back to the times that I've discovered a picture of a valued ancestor. It is a feeling we all share. Thanks for posting.

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    1. Hello Kathy,

      Thanks very much for your comments. It is so true what you say about it being a feeling we all share. It is one of the things which connects us all as human beings, and it's nice to feel that connection.

      Cheers to you,
      Jennifer

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  4. You always say what is in my heart and mind so well. Yes, I wonder too, what was it like for you dear great gramma, you look so stern, you had 5 husbands, did you have any joy, did you have a true love? I would love to have a chat with her, eh?? Thanks Jennifer for writing my thoughts out so well.

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    1. Hi Carol,

      Thanks so much for your lovely comments. They are always much appreciated. Wouldn't it be nice to have a tea party (or a wine party) with all of our dear grammas and get all of our questions answered? I'd love to have a chat with your great gramma too.

      Cheers to you,
      Jennifer

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  5. Hi Jennifer, I enjoyed the photo and your reflections. It is true that there are so many layers to each of our lives and that a picture is only a snapshot in time that will help those who come after us remember us by.

    What a neat blog that you have here!

    Kathy M.

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    1. Hello Kathy,

      Thanks so very much for your comments. It's nice to 'virtually' meet you.

      Cheers to you,
      Jennifer

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Cheers, Jennifer

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