I love looking at photographs, and I know I’m not the only one. Almost everyone has at least one photo album and usually a box of snapshots that needs to be organized and put into an album.
Taking photographs seems to be a natural part of any special occasion. In my family there’s always at least one person snapping pictures of someone with a mouthful of food, a goofy facial expression, or some other silly shot. But those photographs are always the ones that are the most fun to look at down the road.
During my time spent at the museum, I have looked through many photo collections and albums. I can easily spend a whole day doing this. I think it is so interesting. You often get to see people at their best, and sometimes at their worst. You also get a sense of what is important to them.
One album I looked through was almost completely composed of group photographs, with everyone lined up and looking serious. There were very few shots that had less than five people in them. All of their photographs seemed to have been taken at family gatherings or special events. These are not my favorite type of pictures because you seldom get an idea of the personalities of the people shown. It’s nice to have these on some occasions, but I like candid shots better.
My favorite collection of photos is from Alfred Lauerman. There are hundreds of snapshots, but very few are group shots. After looking through these I was able to get a sense of what each person was like, especially since the pictures span several decades. One thing I notice was that their whole family seemed to be comfortable in front of a camera – the people were smiling and at ease in virtually all the photos. The shots often contained things that the people were proud of – cars, dogs, cars, airplanes, cars, hunting and fishing catches, cars . . . . You get the picture. I really enjoyed looking through these. And even though very few were identified, by the end I could tell who was who because they were photographed so often.
I think it is important to have photos like these in personal collections. Pictures can be used to document special events, and important occurrences, but they should also be used just for fun.
If you’re one of those people who can’t stand to have your picture taken, I have something for you to think about. Do you want to be remembered as a “sour-puss” who never smiled for the camera? What fun is that? Remember that photographs leave a lasting impression for generations to come. Relax . . . and say “cheese!”
By Julie Tomala
Copyright 1997, Morrison County Historical Society