My family has an inherited disease called Charcot Marie Tooth. We have lived with it all our lives, whether we actually carry the disease or not, it’s a disease that my entire family fights with every day. My grandmother and her three brothers all had CMT but they never talked about it much. Their children not only talk about it to each other, but are advocates for CMT research and go to yearly clinicals to help researchers find out more about the disease, how it specifically affects out family, and to track their progression to help the overall goal of eventually finding a cure. Because it is an inherited disease, it has always been important to be able to track how far back CMT has been in our family. If it has not been for the few photos of my great grandparents, we never would have known. Because they died so young, we never would have had that missing link to the puzzle that is CMT in our family. Through physical signs in the photos, our family was able to determine that my great-great grandmother Aggie, was the carrier of CMT that passed it on to her children – my grandmother.
I don’t tell this story to make you sad for my family – in fact you shouldn’t be because they are some of the strongest, most intelligent, most caring people you will ever meet. I tell you this story because this is one of the reasons why I love photography and believe in it’s importance. Long after the people in the photos are gone, their legacy remains. Long after those people cannot speak for themselves, the photos of them still can. The photos of them can still tell a story, help you discover something that was long forgotten. Help you experience a joy, a sorrow, a moment of laughter – even if you weren’t alive when it actually occurred.
As a child, my favorite thing to do was to go through my grandmothers photos as she told me stories about the people in them. My great grandparents, Jesse & Aggie, died when my grandmother was very young and there are only a handful of photos of them that exist. Two of those photos are in a locket that was wrapped around my wedding bouquet – a small piece of history that held more memories in those two pictures than Jessie and Aggie would ever know. They began a legacy in their four children that continues today – from Buffalo, New York, to Lansing, Michigan to Seattle Washington. A piece of them is carried in our hearts wherever we go.
I wonder what kind of legacy you are leaving for your children, your grandchildren….your great grandchildren such as me. What stories might be forgotten unless saved inside a photograph?
I believe that life is to be lived and is also to be remembered. I believe that stories from the past can have a profound effect on your future. I believe that photography is a form of storytelling that will live on for centuries. It is for these reasons that I photograph your weddings, your families, your memories so that future generations can know your story, can see your life, can understand their past in a context to develop their future.