A Portrait of My Dad
In honor of Father’s Day weekend, I wanted to share a photo of my dad. When I was growing up, my dad was the family photographer. We always had rolls and rolls of film on hand for family vacations and holidays. Every year on Christmas Eve, we would gather at my grandparent’s house for dinner, followed by attending Christmas Eve Mass, present opening and the infamous family photo.
We would all assemble near the Christmas tree in the living room for the annual portrait. My dad would set up the tripod and turn on the 10-second timer. He would then jump out from behind the camera to get in the photo. Our extended family started out relatively small, so we all fit in the space that separated the living room from the dining room, but, over the years, our family grew and grew. The traditional family photo became an experience of logistics and speed.
By the time I was in high school, my dad was having to make a mad dash from the foyer, through the den and around to the dining room, where he could stand at the back of our group of approximately 25 people for the photo. Suddenly, that 10-second timer didn’t seem long enough. This would take several tries, depending on how fast Dad was and how many people actually remembered to look at the camera.
All those years, my dad used his trusty 35mm Canon AE-1, the same camera I borrowed when I took my first photography class. He had no LCD screen to show him how the shot looked (gasp!), much less a wireless shutter release that would let him take his time getting positioned in the group (don’t know how I lived before I had one of these!). Dad had to do the job old school and rely on his technical knowledge to get the shot (and the pressure to get the shot was great–no one valued these family portraits more than my grandmother).
Despite all the challenges, he always got a keeper and it would go in a frame on the wall, replacing the previous year’s photo. I like looking back at those pictures, seeing how we all grew and changed from year to year. What if we didn’t have those images? What if we didn’t have those memories? This is something I cannot imagine. When I look at those family photos, I picture my dad hitting the shutter and running, while the rest of the family cheered him on.
This is a portrait of my dad–our original family photographer. If it weren’t for him, I may have never discovered my passion for the art of painting with light. Happy Father’s Day Dad!
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