Saturday, May 9, 2015

Sepia Saturday #278: In life's picture: We begin and we end with family.

Today's Sepia Saturday inspiration image of a damaged photograph got me thinking about the nature of change, and all of the alterations life brings, some we welcome and some we do not.

Although it may sound counterintuitive to those of us who seek to preserve the past, I like smeared and smudged pictures, off-kilter and slightly damaged old photographs, because they remind me that life is ever changing. No matter how much we try to edit the images of the world around us, despite our best efforts to perfect everything, to make it pin sharp, and saturate it with colour, we cannot stop the natural transformation life brings. To live an authentic life is not only to accept that metamorphosis, but to embrace it.

Thinking about the ways in which our life experiences transform us reminded me of one true thing that might remain unaltered, 'family'. The combinations and permutations which delineate the noun 'family' may differ widely. Your family may not look like mine, nor mine resemble yours. Nonetheless, what remains is 'Family'. The sentiment is best expressed in writer Anthony Brandt's words,

'Other things may change us, but we start and we end with the family.'

Ball/Fitzpatrick
1928
Studio Portrait, Dublin.
Fitzpatrick/Hynes
c. 1925
Studio Portrait, Dublin.
Dunne/Geraghty/Halpin/Magee/Maher
1937
On holiday at Rush, North County Dublin.
Ball/Geraghty
1955
Back garden of the Geraghty family home, Crumlin, Dublin City.
Ball/Daly/Dunne/Doyle/Fitzpatrick/Geraghty/Halpin/Higgins/Magee/Maher/Ward
1954, My parents' wedding.
Outside St. Patrick's Church, Ringsend, Dublin City.
Be sure to stop by the Sepia Saturday blog to connect with others who have been stirred by today's inspiration image.

©irisheyesjgg2015.

22 comments:

  1. A big wedding party where you have done well to name the member families. I'm sure we couldn't do that with any of ours.

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    Replies
    1. Bob, thanks very much for your comments. It's astonishing the number of names you can recall if you stare at a photo for long enough. Unfortunately, I cannot name everyone in this image from my parents' 1954 wedding, but I've just realized one surname I neglected to add.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  2. I keep going back to the Fitzpatrick/Hynes and the incredible hairstyle back row, second left! But I found myself trying to find people from the individual family groups within the larger wedding photo -- it's a fabulous series of photos with a perfect ending!

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    1. Deb, thanks very much for your comments. Indeed, that hairstyle is show-stopper is a show stopper, but quite popular with the Edwardian dandies of the day. I love to match up family members as well, familiar features in a sea of people, and I'm glad you like the ending. It's my favourite photograph.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  3. I was actually touched while reading about how this week's project inspired you. Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts with us. You even captured the worn stock photographer's frame in Ball/Fitzpatrick And the Ball/Geraghty photo captured my attention. It appears to be from the 1940's to 1950's era. I took in everything from the clothesline with clothespins askew to the transient window, and the clothing and hair styles. The two in the front made me think of an older Scout and Jem anxious to change into their dungarees and rip and run through Maycomb.

    And I like how you name your photos: plain and simple . . . surnames of all subjects. Really nice post.

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    1. Donna, thanks very much for your comments. Nice to hear from you. The Ball/Geraghty photo was taken in the spring of 1955 in the back garden of the Geraghty home in Crumlin, Dublin, Ireland.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  4. As a photographer I find battered photos frustrating albeit better than none. I like your approach that it shows life is ever-changing as represented here. It's also interesting to think some families and relationships are less than perfect with holes and scuffs on them. So much to be grateful for if our lives do start and end with family.

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    1. Pauleen, thanks very much for your comments. I have to admit I do dislike the very battered ones, of which you can make neither heads nor tails, but they do still speak to me in the same way. As you say, we have much to be grateful for if we do have lives that start and end with family.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  5. I love the clothesline in the Ball/Geraghty photo. That might be the kind of thing somebody would be tempted to remove, but it adds such a feeling of casualness and spontaneity to the scene. Your musing about living an authentic life is quite lovely - "perfect" is rarely part of that equation. Nice, nice post.

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    1. Helen, thanks so much for your comments. I'm with you and Donna as far as the clothesline and the spontaneous nature of the photo. It brings into sharp focus what is important in the image. For the Geraghty family members, this would be the last photo in which they all appear together.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  6. I must admit I've never seen a hairstyle quite like that one fellow is sporting in the Fitzpatrick/Hynes photo. Um, wow! But isn't it amazing how one man & woman with a few children can result in something like the full-family gathering in that last photo. And the beat goes on!

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    1. La Nightingail, thanks very much for your comments. That hairstyle is really something isn't it? Actually the family all gathered in the bottom photograph at my parents' wedding come from both sides of our family tree. It's my favourite photograph because it's the only one I have with so many from all of the families in it.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  7. Like you, Jennifer, I'm quite happy with the damaged photos, and prefer to display them as such, except where I can do some tonal/contrast adjustment to bring to life some faded photographic emulsions. Thanks for sharing this lot which, I might add, seem pretty unblemished to me.

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    1. Brett, thanks very much for your comments. This lot is indeed in very good condition with only slight dings and marks, unlike my own baby photos which my elder brother finely edited at the age of 5 or so; he must have been thinking 'off with her head'. :-)

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  8. What treasures you have in these photographs, Jennifer. It's great that you can see all the faces so clearly. I especially like looking at group family photos. I think they can tell us so much about relationships among people -- who's leaning which way, who's sitting beside whom, etc.

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    1. Nancy, thanks very much for your comments. I'm with you; they are indeed treasures. I look at photos the same way as you do. They can tell us so much about family relationships.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  9. It's interesting how everyone on Sepia Saturday values ragged photos as much as fine photographs. I love them for their talisman quality with decades of finger marks and thumbtac holes.

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    1. Mike, thanks very much for your comments. I am especially struck by your phrase 'talisman quality', since I often imagine my own finger prints settling in the same places as those of my family members long since passed. When I was a child, having never known any of my grandparents, with my index finger I would trace my grandfather Patrick Ball's signature on letters he had sent to my mother, believing somehow that touch would connect me to him in the great beyond.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  10. Whether posed at the studio or grouped together out by the clothesline, families define themselves. They assume an attitude - they're sharp or they're playful, they're mischievous or they're reserved. Family is everything.

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    1. Wendy, thanks very much for your comments. I'm with you. It does come through in photos so well, doesn't it, the fact that 'family is everything'? No matter the time or the place.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  11. Wonderful family photos, Jennifer! I have so few on either side of my families that I treasure every coffee-stained fold-marked raggedy-edged one I can find!! Family is family, making a house a home.

    The clothesline triggered memories of "my job" from about 12-18, to hang our laundry up on our backyard clothesline, every Saturday afternoon.

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    1. Celia, thanks very much for your comments. Always appreciated. I'm with you in treasure all the family photos, no matter what their condition. I remember 'helping' my mom hang out clothes in the summertime when I was little — I was probably more of a hindrance than a help — and there is something about that image that conjures up family life.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete

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Cheers, Jennifer

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