Recently, as part of Caroline Deuterman’s Photo365 project, she uploaded a photo, taken with her smart phone, of pink hydrangeas. She explains: “Pink ones always, without fail, remind me of my Great Aunt Tina….Every photo [she has]ever taken of a pink hydrangea has been for her [Aunt Tina].” Then she goes on to share an interesting conversation she had with her Aunt. My first thought was that this was a great memory. But then it got me to thinking about how memories shape who we are, and it affects how we shoot. It’s not just about the things we shoot, but the way we shoot them.
I have a similar story. My mother, who died of Kidney Cancer several years ago, always used to cling to a specific memory. When I was much younger (maybe nine or so, I don’t remember exactly), I was invited last minute to visit the Zoo with my best friend. Long day at the zoo, and we ended up in the gift shop at the end of the day. I bought my mother a peacock feather. When I got home, I presented to my mother and it apparently made her day. She placed it on a painting that hung above the fire place, where it hung for decades. I don’t remember the whole circumstances. Perhaps I we had other plans. Perhaps she was just having a bad day and my timing was impeccable. But for whatever reason, the peacock feather became a theme throughout our lives. When I graduated from High School, my mother – a quilter – quilted a memory blanket for me. It contained a number of squares highlighting achievements in my life. One of the squares featured a peacock feather. So her fond memory of that moment became mine. To this day, I can never pass up an opportunity to shoot a peacock.
Everyone has such a story. It might not be so personal or so emotional. It might be as simple as a memory of your first great photograph. Or maybe you format your photos in a certain way because it’s the opposite of what someone might expect. Whatever memory might be cause for inspiration, we want to hear about it. So if there are any memories that affect your work as a photographer, please share them with us below.