Kienow Family History and Heritage

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A Picture Is Worth ...

Looking at old photographs can be lots of fun - it can also remind you of how much has changed over the years. The best photographs to look at are the ones with people in them. When I first started taking pictures, I took a lot of photographs of landscapes, plants, flowers, and sunsets, not very many people. I did take pictures at Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving when we were all together, but I still notice that I have more than enough pictures of the Christmas tree, the place settings at the table, and faceless hands opening gifts.

Above my desk, I have several photographs of family - one of Gayle, the kids school pictures, and one of our 2 grandsons. Some of them are a bit outdated, but the new ones are tucked into the frames, waiting to take their place of prominence. I haven't taken to carrying pictures of them in my wallet and I don't have any at my desk at work, but the images are still with me.

Every time I look at those photographs, I catch myself remembering that particular time of their lives and my relationship with them. And, then I catch up with myself and think about the people they have become. They are special to me, and I only hope that I am making sure they know this.

When I started taking pictures I mostly took pictures of things, not people. When I did take pictures of people, it was at special events - holidays, birthdays, and during vacations. Or, I would sneak a picture from a distance. Taking pictures of people was risky for me - it required too much of a commitment to getting to know them, something I wasn't much good at. Instead of being able to hide behind my camera, I was the one being exposed to my subjects. So, I avoided it. As our children were born, I found it easy and fun to capture everything they were doing on film, and we even bought a video camera to get the movement and sound recorded, too. Then, the kids started getting older and aware they were having their picture taken, and the photos stopped being candid and real. That reduced the number of times I got my camera out, and the number of photographs I took dwindled to almost nothing. Maybe I would get a few a Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving, but that was about it. This means there are fewer pictures of the younger kids than there are of the older ones, something I can't go back and change.

What I can do is to work on the relationships I have with those people in the pictures over my desk. And, maybe I can pass on some of our heritage while I do that. Here's how I plan to do it.

I'm going to start by writing down what each of those pictures over my desk brings to mind. Using the questions in our Preserving Photos article, and my best Sgt. Joe Friday frame of mind, I'll begin recording 'just the facts'. Who is in the photo, when was the photo taken, where was it taken, who took it, and why. Here's an example: I took this picture of Kristen while we were living at our old house in White Bear Lake, MN. I was home that day and doing some work down in the basement, when I noticed it was pretty quiet upstairs. When I went up to see what was, or wasn't, going on, I found her sleeping in the hallway. Now, I'll admit that watching my kids sleep was special for me, especially if they fell asleep while I was holding them. To me it was the ultimate expression of trust - they felt safe enough to fall asleep. I'm still reaching back to try a piece together more details for that day, but this will be a picture and a memory that will stay with me for a long time. And, just to show you where she gets her stamina from, I've included another photo of someone closely related.

Here's a couple of challenges for you - think of the person closest to you (physically or emotionally), and then see how long it takes you to find a photograph of them. Now, find a recent photograph of them. Once you have those photographs, take out a clean sheet of paper and begin to make some notes about the picture and the person. Then share those discoveries with someone else - pass it on.

Last modified on 2008/11/4 by skenow

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