Updated: Jun 29, 2022
by Nikki Howard
Over the past year of working on client stories and seeing the photos they choose to incorporate into their projects has taught me a lot about life priorities and the importance of documenting important moments for safekeeping.
When I was 13, our childhood home burned down in a tragic accident. A large number of our family photos did not make it, including countless photos from my childhood and those of my parents and grandparents lives before me. Since the fire, my family and I have not taken many pictures together. Many of us physically scattered and hardly made the opportunity to get together. After working on so many of these life story projects, I feel the loss of all those memories deeply. If someone were to write my life story, what photos would they even have to use?
So over Thanksgiving 2021, I made it a point to take photos of my extended family, a reunion that has been several years in the making. We’ve lost a few loved ones recently, people who I regret are now missing from my snapshots. But I’m relieved to have these new memories saved. My father was happy to be in the photos and has started sending me candids—most recently a picture of him feeding a swarm of ducks at a local pond. I cannot explain the
amount of joy this simple image brings me. I’m acutely aware that I'm making up for lost time, collecting evidence of the love and warmth that exists within my family. I'm making physical memories that I can revisit anytime and hold in my hands. Just as importantly, I'm starting to ask questions to capture stories from some of those missing photo years. Searching for clues about who and where I came from and writing some of this down so future generations will know, too.
Of all the clients' stories I have encountered, most have one thing in common: family is at the center of their lives. I think they are on to something! Through hearing strangers' stories, I've gained a new understanding of my own and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to capture moments with the people I love the most and who have shaped me into the person I am today.