March 26, 2010

What I Heard at the Wedding and Portrait Photographer's Platform Class

Wedding and Portrait Photographer's International Conference is held each year in Las Vegas and the last two years it was at the MGM Grand Hotel. A beautiful property.  I've gone now for four years and it's a great source of networking, education and shopping,  And inspiration!

One of the great treasures in the world of Photography is David A. Williams from Australia.  There are a number of people I have met at the shows but David gave a platform class with a room holding about 1000 people and there were tears and sniffles at various points in the class. 

David told us of a project he did when his Mother was diagnosed with a form of Dementia.  His father was also a photographer and he made an album of photos from the important parts of his life and he talked about  photographers and what our purpose is. David did a personal project - something we are encouraged to do with our own photography to expand our visions.

His Cycles and Echos presentation keeps bringing me back to my childhood. His images were stunning. Unlike some of my images that were not well preserved or were poorly developed. I grew up with the notion that good photography was expensive.  David showed me what I knew that it's priceless. He taught us that if we look hard we can see that a mother will take in the scent of her children. You can see than in his own history.

The only images I have from my own parents wedding were the proofs and one that my mother left for me of her childhood immediate family. My parents divorced. My aunt had one image of my parents together. I found one of my Mom and Dad when my Dad was in the Army in Korea taken just before he shipped out. I cherish the copies of the photographs taken at my grandfather's Bar Mitzvah at the Breed Street Shul in Los Angeles in 1913 - all of the family in one photograph - including the family dog. And the 1923 snapshot of my grandparents with my Aunt on the beach at Santa Monica.  The original Muscle Beach. Grandma was standing on Papa's Shoulders and Aunt Sophie was about 6 months old. What was life like then? They wore the bathing suits that look like tank tops and shorts to the knees.

In older blog posts, I have the photograph of me at age 5 with my mothers Buick. I remember the dress, the car and the street.  My sister has the 16 x 20 framed photograph of the three siblings in a vignette as was the style at the time, framed that my Mother adored. Every year or so the photographer came to the house. Sometimes there were albums, but this one was on the wall for 30 years in my childhood homes. When I see that photograph, I think of all the places I remember it hanging. I remember all the personal history that went along with that image. That's pretty powerful for a piece of paper.

David taught me there is far more to a photograph. Look deep at the images you cherish. It's not the piece of paper. It's about the history of the person and their history and their family history. And all those memories. You can feel your past. The mind is amazing. You can remember the scent of your mother and her perfume and the cooking smells that permeated your house. And all that is important in your life and your person.

I cannot believe that I have been given a gift that allows me to create that for someone else. I cannot believe that someone came thousands of miles to show me and teach me that.  Thank you, David for your gift to me. I want to pass that on to the next generations too.

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