When I look back at family photographs I am reminded of the phrase "once upon a time" from bedtime stories as a child. I feel very strongly that the history of my family is deserving of the classic "once upon a time" beginning because that is how I view these memories. The moments captured by film are a memory preserved with a wink and a nod to the future. 

The image directly above is of my parents on their wedding day. They didn't know it then, but I can see decades of love and family history that is yet to come in those smiles and their toast. I'm here because my parents were there toasting their future. My parents had the amazing and fortunate opportunity to have a moment like this because of all of the family who came before them in our history. 

The first two photographs are of my grandmother with her husband my pop pop. My grandmother has recently gone and I've been going through all of the photographs from her apartment. These otherwise ordinary cardboard boxes contain a treasure to me of my grandmother's life. The lines of her face, the beauty of her smile, and hints of the things that were important to her, which was mostly family. 

After going through my grandmother's photos, I felt their power. A classic printed photograph is beautiful, timeless, and a tangible memory. Within albums there are cards she saved, photographs of her children, her grandchildren, and people I recognize as family but have never met. Black and white photographs, hand colored photographs, and faded color photographs neatly preserved in albums, frames, and decorative department store boxes. Old letters, vacation photographs, and sympathy cards provide a very personal insight into this woman that I adored. 

It brings me joy to look at her albums and see that she traveled to Alaska, where she saw a whale and photographed its tail in the cold, clear water of the ocean. We never talked about the fact that she saw a whale on that trip with my grandfather but somehow knowing that she saw incredible things throughout her life makes me happy. 

People often ask themselves what their lives mean, and what matters to them. I can tell you what mattered to my grandmother. Living mattered to her, her family mattered to her, and she loved everyone. The photographs she left behind are a priceless treasure, and along with every smile, every pose, and all the memories of how amazing she was, will always be her legacy to us. 

Use your camera. Never put it down. It will mean the world to someone you love.