Posts Tagged ‘photographs’

The Old-Fashioned Way of Remembering – Memorial Portraiture

Many centuries ago, the Celts believed that their late relatives and friends have gone to a better place and marked their funerals with rich feasts and a lot of laughter. The Romans buried important members of society under roads and paths, because they believed that many people passing over their remains is a sign of honour and respect.

In the medieval fantasy series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, the members of House Stark receive their own stone statue in the catacombs of the castle after they are gone, while the Tully House follows an ancient ceremony of setting the remains of the deceased on fire with the help of flaming arrows in the middle of the river.

The scholars of Jordan College in Philip Pullman’s ‘Northern Lights’ have another interesting ritual – the skulls of the deceased are preserved in special underground vaults and their ‘demons’ are represented by golden coins.

Indeed, the ways of remembering practiced in the real and the imaginary worlds vary dramatically and change over time. And while some ideas of remembering may appear shocking to us, it is useful to be acquainted with the different options of maintaining the connection, letting go and preserving memories. One really interesting way of remembering, which is not too popular now but was often used in America and Europe in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, was the memorial portraiture, also known as post-mortem photography.

In 1839, the invention of the daguerreotype made it possible for many people to have their pictures taken quickly and at an affordable price (in contrast to the costly and slow painted portraits). And while many people took advantage of the invention of photography and made sure to have photos of memorable events, a new application of the technology was quickly invented and adopted – Memorial Portraits. The families of deceased people often hired photographers to take the photo of a family member who had just passed away and the resulting pictures were their only visual memory of this person.

The interest of post-mortem photography soon motivated the photographers to discover different methods of representation. Indeed, some pictures showed the deceased person in their coffin, but there were many situations when the man behind the camera tried everything to make the model look as alive as possible. If you browse through this gallery of memorial portraits, you will see that some people look absolutely alive and you wouldn’t have guessed the nature of the photo if you didn’t know what you are going to see. Other photographs tried to arrange the photo in a way that would convince us the model is sleeping – especially when it came to babies or small children. They would usually hold a favourite object of theirs – a doll or a teddy bear, or even a pet! – to make the photo more realistic.

At one point, post-mortem photography became so popular that deceased pupils and students were included in collective photos of the class or the school. They were kept standing with the help of special tools that supported them, and later the photograph retouched the pictures to make them look alive. In this 9GAG post you can see some of the different techniques used by the photographers when shooting a memorial portrait.

Later in the 20th century, post-mortem photography started to lose its popularity. Indeed, when browsing the old photos, you can see how hard it was for family members to pose with their deceased relatives, but it also seems that they found the whole process natural, maybe even necessary for them to remember a child, a spouse, a sibling who ceased to be. If offered such service by a funeral agency today, we would probably react in a different way and will consider this a strange, shocking and unnatural process. Still, back in its day, post-mortem photography was one of the old-fashioned ways of remembering – it helped people get over their pain and preserve a fond memory of someone they had lost – and that is all that matters.

Don’t Forget Your Camera Over Christmas And New Year

When your family and friends get together over Christmas and the New Year it is the perfect time for creating some great memories.  Therefore, don’t forget your camera over Christmas so you can capture those memories as they happen.

Taking group pictures of the whole family with the different generations from grandparents or maybe great grandparents and then all the way down to the grandchildren or even the great grandchildren is sure to provide lasting memories.

Another fantastic picture to capture is on the morning of Christmas when the tree is fully decorated, lit up with all the lights and surrounded by the unopened presents left by Santa on Christmas Eve.

Christmas lunch or dinner is another opportunity to take a great picture as everyone is around the table enjoying each other’s company while eating the fabulous food.

Also, New Year celebrations are another time to capture some great images, whether it is family and friends around the barbeque or even pictures of firework celebrations that will bring in the New Year.

These are just some ideas so don’t forget your camera over Christmas and New Year as you may miss some great opportunities to capture some everlasting images.

Cave Art – The Significance Of Images

Memories can be formed in so many ways and passed from generation to generation.  Cave art is a great example of this as stories relating to traditions, myths and legends can be told from the related images.  In addition, these images can also be factual as they reflect information at a point in time as highlighted by some aboriginal cave art that could be 40,000 years old that depicts pictures of an extinct giant bird.  Follow this link for more information.

The point is that man has always communicated through images and we still do today.

While some of our own images may not be 40,000 years old we certainly have images that can tell some fantastic stories.  Our children may produce some art work while at school that relates to a story or event at that point in time.  As a parent keeping these images allows the story to live on and are great for reminiscing as your children grow into adults.

The same with photographs that we have that may be from past to current generations.  We are all familiar with the saying that a picture paints a thousand words and this is so true with many of the images that are part of our life.

As with cave art we should take special effort to retain many of these images so we can also pass on our stories to our children and allow the history to live on.

Watch The Family Grow

If you have children, you will know how fast they can grow. And it is almost impossible to cherish every moment as life, schedules and deadlines often get in the way. Regular annual photographs are a great way to build a story of your family.

Taking photographs and capturing your memories is getting easier and cheaper as technology progresses. No longer do we need to be concerned about the cost of developing, only to be dismayed by the quality of the photographs. And nor do we need to be worried about our photographs fading over time as digital photographs can last forever if stored correctly. Photograph books allow for easy capturing of a year in time and taking annual photographs will enable you to showcase your lives together.

As I was browsing the internet I came across a number of families who had been taking annual photos of themselves since the 70s with fantastic results, two of which are listed below.

• Since the 1970s the Goldberg’s take annual headshots of the family members to see how they change each year.

• Here 4 sisters have been photographed together since 1975.

These examples are not the classic happy family shots you would imagine but rather just natural shots of the family together showing how they age and grow year after year. What an achievement!

Build up your memories with regular photo shoots and create your own piece of history.

Christmas Memories

Christmas creates so many opportunities to capture memories you don’t often get the chance to create. It’s the time you do things you don’t often do throughout the year, and often the only time you manage to have the important people in your life in the one place.

Between the tidying, present purchasing and cooking, as well as the stress that goes with it all, there’s the propensity to forget to catch those moments as the days and gatherings pass by in a swirl of chaos and running around.

Forget about what you’re wearing or look like, and take the opportunity when everyone is there to grab those group shots, even if they are set up. Sometimes we can be so caught up in “perfect” and controlling the moment, that we forget that the apron with the cranberry sauce on it or the frazzled hair is who those people are at that moment in time. It’s capturing their personality, as well as the moment. This, in itself, is precious.

Snapping away as festivities happen is also important, as they lead to those funny and memorable stories that are beyond “Do you remember when Uncle Bill ….?”. You have the photo to prove it and to keep the story going for generations to come.

Handing out disposable cameras – including and especially to the children – will provide you with many more moments and memories than you could possibly capture between ensuring everyone has a drink in their hand.

Let down your inhibitions and pick up the camera and catch what you can.