by Jessie Salas, Photographer
My Grandpa’s Polaroid camera would be my first recollection of the love I have always had for photography. I can recall standing in my grandparent’s living room watching as he loaded the film into the backside of the contraption while sternly and lovingly telling both my sister and I that this particular part of the camera could NOT be opened until we had used the entire roll of film inside. I loved holding the camera to my face, pressing the button and watching as it spit a small square, blank print out the front. My sister and I would stand over the image watching it morph before our eyes.
To this day, I love examining old photographs I see hanging on walls, looking not just at the main subject in the image but the people, products, places and other events occurring that may be surrounding it. Photographs always tell a story and for me photography has always been about freezing everyday moments in time and encapsulating those stories in the form of pictures.
Shortly after my oldest daughter was born, I felt an incredible urge to document her life…the time felt so fleeting and I didn’t want to miss a thing. I began capturing everything, using my camera as a means of recording every event and experience we had together. As our family grew, like many, so did our convoy of images.
My love and talent for encapsulating my own everyday family memories was something that I felt could be shared with others. For me it wasn’t about dressing up and capturing statuesque illustrations but rather focusing on the natural, fun, emotional stuff. The creases of a newborn baby’s feet, the way their hair swooshes around in a small circle on the top of their head, sisters holding hands and giggling hysterically while they run from a giant wave that’s about to crash on to the shore at the beach, a mom dressed casually in black leggings and a t-shirt, wearing no-makeup on her face while she reads the Velveteen Rabbit to her two-year old son as they rock in the old cushy chair next to the nursery window…peering in on these instances as though I wasn’t really there but catching them forever with the stroke of a quick click of my camera…there’s nothing quite like it.
I am so inspired by the thought that the moments I am invited by families to witness are forever permanent through pictures and that they will be treasured long beyond our lifetimes by the generations to follow. Although these moments may sometimes feel imperfect, it’s the imperfections that make up a perfect picture; those are the REAL moments that we will want to remember even if it doesn’t seem so at the time.
Pictures enable us to re-open memory books and tell stories…funny stories, silly stories, sweet stories and even sad stories…because there’s always more to a photograph than just what is in the picture itself. It puts a smile on my face when I think that in this ever changing world, there will always be pictures to help us recollect memories and tell stories, for as Paul Simon says about pictures ‘they give us those nice bright colors; gives those greens of summers; they make you think all the world’s a sunny day.’ And it really is.