Thursday, November 29, 2012

It Runs In The Family...

Her exercise was to leave a note to her descendants describing her traits, so that they might know which, if any, traits they got from her.

As we are researching our ancestors it's fun to make a discovery that one of them may have had similar interests or avocations that we have. Maybe you're an artist and you discover that your ancestor was too. Or maybe you have a long line of teachers in your family. Certain traits and passions seem to carry through the generations.

If you could leave a note for your descendants, which traits would you tell them about yourself? Leave a comment below or write a post on your own blog.
Here's mine:

I'm a photographer.  No, not professionally, although I did spend six years in the US Navy as a Photographer's Mate, essentially a professional military photographer.

I started borrowing my parents' cameras as a kid.  Just the usual happy snapshots with no skill or knowledge of how to take better pictures.  In high school, I took a couple of photography classes that were offered, learning the basic camera skills and even how to process my own black & white film and prints, back before the days of digital cameras.  In college, I took some more classes, including an art class where I was looking to learn the more creative side of photography, not just the technical skills.  Alas, things changed, and I got realistic about my abilities and skills, and my career choice went off to computers instead of cameras.  But I still have a DSLR camera with extra lenses, I still go out and shoot from time to time.

So how does that fit with the exercise mentioned above?  Well, my father enjoyed photography.  He had a number of different film cameras over the years, and even an 8mm movie camera.   But even more, his mother, my maternal grandmother, Alta May Day, was an avid photographer.  She took many hundreds of photos, back when each frame was costly in terms of film and processing, and never knowing until you got that done whether the image turned out or not.  I have albums full of her photos, which she helpfully put in order and labeled with names, places and dates.  What's more, I have the actual negatives for many of these, going back to 1910 or so.

Since my grandmother was born in 1910, that means someone earlier had to have started that photo collection.  Her father, my great-grandfather Clyde Day, was also into photography.  As he lived out on the South Dakota prairie, that was not an easy hobby to have!  He learned how, and got the equipment needed, to process his own film and prints back when photography was still rather young.

Prior to that, I don't have any evidence of anyone in the family doing photography, but they were interested in pictures, as there are portraits and family photos of the Day line that go back to the Civil War and before.

So if you're my descendant and reading this, are you photographically inclined?  What equipment are you using?  How has photography changed?


This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman