When Past and Present Collide | Photo Story Friday

When I was 10 years old my mother sent me, on my own, from South Dakota to California to visit my paternal grandmother for a month.  I often joke about my experiences during that time, comparing them to the Griswold’s adventures from National Lampoon’s Summer Vacation.  We visited several Southern California landmarks without ever going IN them – including Knott’s Berry Farm. 

However, there were several places we did visit , some of which no longer exist, like Lion Country Safari and Marineland of the Pacific. One of our excursions that held a fond place in my memories over the years is the Los Angeles Arboretum. I never forgot the gorgeous house that I wanted to go inside of or the placards along different paths depicting where the first Tarzan movie was made as well as other classic movies, I was fascinated with the history of it all.

Within a year after visiting the Aboretum a new TV show aired featuring the Queen Anne house in it’s opening sequence – the show was Fantasy Island.  I loved that show, and more so, I was THRILLED that I had been to that very house!

Yup, that’s me, the skinny kid in the lime-green shirt and pigtails.   Queen Anne House077And the little tiny thing I’m looking down at in the picture? {who was quite cute}… the bane of my existence for four weeks.  She was five years old and got into all kinds of mischief, I was 10 years old and was constantly being blamed for said mischief.

Crazy, to this day I clearly remember getting in trouble for squashing berry-type pods that had fallen from the trees and lay on the path where we walked. She stomped on them over and over and somehow I took the fall for it.  I was impassioned with the injustice of it all, “she’s only five - she isn’t stomping on all those berries, let alone on purpose”. WHAT!?!      Oh, she was good…

And so. 37 years after my first visit, 26 years of living in Los Angeles, I finally returned – with The Boy willingly in tow.  All I kept asking myself was, “Why did I wait so long to return?”  It is truly a beautiful, peaceful place to wander through; and although place-markers denoting where various classic movie moments were filmed are all but gone now, it still felt like stepping back in time - for me – if only briefly. 


As we walked through the welcome building and into the gardens, I felt that little girl in me twitch as a wave a familiarity washed over me, a taste of the past welled up in my mouth. Like a tide that suddenly rushes in, then receding as fast as it had appeared; 1976 and 2013 intertwined. 


I am always amazed when my past memories bubble to the surface and collide with my present, I can feel it – like a Sci-fi movie, all I have to do is take a step to the left and I would find myself staring the 10-year-old me in the face, surrounded by family members long since gone. 


However, that wave passes quickly and I am here standing with my eight-year-old boy who taking in the whole experience with a calm joy. He comments, “It’s so quiet and peaceful here, I’m jealous of the people who live here!” As we listened to the birds singing and crickets chirping; the two of us were in heaven.


Toward the end of our stay, as Harrison ran ahead of me on the paved path, I briefly glanced down and noticed a couple berry-type pods laying on the road; I smiled… and STOMPED on them!

On Purpose!

Life is good.


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Redondo Beach Portrait Photographer | The Value of the Printed Image

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I have a storage bin of old family albums and pictures. Sound familiar? That's not including the miscellaneous albums from my teens, young adult life and right up into my early years of marriage.

And then the digital age hit. Now I have external hard drives with tons of personal pictures living on them. They may not get dusty but no one can enjoy them if I don't take the time to post them on social media or through blogging (which doesn't always happen).

The value of those hundreds of images in that storage bin are truly priceless to me because for the most part, they are the tangible memories of the people no longer physically here with me in my life. I pull out pictures from my past on a regular basis. I've put them in frames on my walls, scanned them, posted them on Facebook and in blogs.

In the face of a disaster, I would go for that bin.

So why am I telling you this? I realize that I am not alone in my dislike for being in front of the camera. As a photographer, I have conversations regularly with moms  about how they view themselves in pictures; they feel they look fat, they hate their arms, their nose, their sagging eyelids, their crooked teeth, the list goes on and on. I hate pictures of myself for the so many of those reasons, too.

But my son doesn't.

Let me repeat that again, my son doesn’t hate how I look in pictures.

When I was putting together my wedding and wanting to honor my mother and grandmother, who had each passed away in the years and months before the ceremony, I realized that I had very few pictures of the two of them together and even fewer of the three of us and I only had one portrait of me and my mom together.


circa 1979And it was one of those horrible 1980's studio portraits taken during my "awkward" years when the Farrah Fawcett flip was all the rage.          



But I will NEVER get rid of it.


Then I had an epiphany one day recently. I haven't had a decent family portrait done since before my son was born! And I'm a photographer! Plus, the last {non-snapshot} picture of him and I together was over four years ago when he was still technically a toddler. He's in second grade now.


Guess what? My son doesn't care what I look like in pictures, he just wants pictures of us together because simply loves me.

In truth, the pictures we take with our children and families right now really are not for ourselves, they are for our children, their children and their children's children.

I'm not going to wait until I lose more weight or have a the perfect haircut before I get into pictures with my child, I'm going to take advantage of every time I can be in front of the camera with him and then I'm going to make sure they are printed in some format, because some day I'll be gone and I want him to have those images, see the happy moments we captured together, smile with joyful memories.

{This is our “group hug” we took this shortly after I wrote this post – a special family moment I didn't want to miss documenting.}

I'm starting to move digital images from the past four years into printed photo books. I have enough images to make an album per year. It's probably going to take some time as I work on it in my free time, but well worth it.

I believe making pictures has always been about printing, displaying and cherishing tangible art as well as capturing our lives to remember.

Posting images on social media is a bonus in today's age - but should not become the end all. Images are meant to be shared, on walls, in albums, through cards... What ever it is, make the pictures you have taken and stored on hard drives, CD's or flash drives concrete beyond the confines of the monitor, cell or tablet.

Our pictures tell our story.

Share your story, give your future generations something palpable, something they can hold, touch, consider and imagine what you were like during this time in your lives.

So forget about the extra 20 pounds or thinning hairline, get into the pictures with your children and then display those pictures on walls, tabletop frames or coffee table books. Just do it.

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{A family “self portrait” set up and taken by Harrison with the self timer – do I love how I look? Heck no! does the Boy love this picture? Oh yes! }


You will never regret it and neither will your children.

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