DECLARATIONS: THE HIDDEN STORIES OF PRINTED PHOTOS (MS. MABLE)

It should be clear by now that I love hearing stories of people's past and the small details that make such a big difference in life. I know not everyone has the same passion for the past but I'm always a little curious when I ask people to tell me about something years ago and they reply with, 'Nothing special'. 

There are so many 'nothing special' things that we've dismissed in our culture over the years that are so important today, some even lost arts. I love hearing about the 'little things' because they would be considered such big acts of strength, love, or talent today.

Ms. Mable, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, and her dog 'Woofie'.

Ms. Mable, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, and her dog 'Woofie'.

Ms. Mable treated me to a bit of the day to day she had in her childhood. Even with few details, I can imagine such a different life and upbringing she must have had, with the same common goals that I try to raise my own children with.

"I have 2 boys and 5 girls. I grew up in Atlanta, GA near a farm. My grandmother taught me how to cook and sew – she was a wonderful grandmother, she taught me everything, I loved her very much. My father, he would put me on his knee and had a pipe, Captain Black. Smelled real good. I loved that, those days, good memories. I have a picture of me and a black and white bear with a tea pot. I used to put sand in it and pretend I was cooking.

When I met my husband, I worked at a 5 and dime place. He kept coming in but he didn’t have the courage to ask me out. So one day he asked me out and he took me to a restaurant. Now, this man had on a sweater - he put his pipe [too close to it] and I had to smack it – it started smoking! Laughs One of my favorite memories is my husband on our wedding day."

 

DECLARATIONS: THE HIDDEN STORIES OF PRINTED PHOTOS (MS. EDNA)

Ms. Edna is feisty - which, trust me, I love. I've had the opportunity to visit her several times since we last met and she always gets me laughing with her unapologetic opinions and emotion. I am so glad to have seen this side of her often since on our first day, she was feeling a little 'under the weather'. 

Ms. Edna was just entering her room the first time we met; I introduced myself and tried my best to see if she was up for talking. I always want my conversations with people to be comfortable and I understand not necessarily feeling up to an interview from someone I've never met. 

Megan, the Activities Director and wonderful person aiding me in this project, helped start the conversation as she helped guide Ms. Edna towards the photographs in her room.  

Why do you have pictures in your room do you think?

[confused] “Do I? I don’t think I do.”

Miss Edna, look at these – see your photos? Why do you think you keep these photos?

“Is this my room?”

This is your room.

“I don’t know how long they’ve been there.”

Miss Edna suddenly spots a photo of her husband. You see her eyes brighten up and she sits up  straighter. She finally recognizes something familiar to her.

Ms. Edna, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, with photos of her husband. 

Ms. Edna, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, with photos of her husband. 

"…Because that’s our wedding day. Can’t you see? That’s my husband."

You have a lot of pictures of your husband.

“Because we loved each other!”

DECLARATIONS: THE HIDDEN STORIES OF PRINTED PHOTOS (MS. MADELINE)

As much as I'd like to say each day and conversation I had with people featured in this series were filled with joy and fond memories, I would be telling the truth if there wasn't a little heartache here and there. Thankfully, none that couldn't be chalked up to a bit of a down day, which we all have from time to time. However, those moments simply amplified the love that was held for the memories and people I had the honor of 'meeting' through my talks. 

I absolutely adore Ms. Madeline - and not just for her soft spoken, gentle English accent (her voice makes you wish you had a recording of it every night reading a storybook as you drifted off to sleep. It's really that lovely.) There is a sweetness to her demeanor mixed with matter-of-fact statements that keep you on your toes when she speaks.

Though our first meeting together was on a day that was more wistful than most, I am happy to say that each time we see each other now, it's clear that our initial conversation just happened to be a moment of missing. I am always greeted with a genuine smile and positive update on how her days have been, which makes me so glad. 

"My husband and I were introduced through friends while he was stationed in England and we married in ’52.

My mother and husband didn’t like one another but they would hold each other in high regard. She called him once at 2 o’clock in the morning to fix something. He got in his car and went right over. Of course, he grumped the whole way over and she called him every name under the sun. My mother would say, ‘You really are well taken care of. If you ask him to do something, he’ll do it.’ And I would agree. She would call him ‘Bastard’ and he would call her ‘Old Bollocks’.

We moved to the states in ’65. It broke her heart. My brother didn’t like him – felt he was taking me away [from family]. We were able to visit 4 times. But when my mother passed away, I wasn’t there. There wasn’t time. It broke my heart."

Ms. Madeline, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, with some of her favorite memories. 

Ms. Madeline, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, with some of her favorite memories. 

DECLARATIONS: THE HIDDEN STORIES OF PRINTED PHOTOS (Ms. Linda)

"Just wait until you see Ms. Linda's room," I was told. "This is probably exactly what you're looking for."

Sure enough, even from the hallway, you could start to see that Ms. Linda's room was a little different than the other spaces we had passed. 

Ms. Linda can be seen all over the facility: delivering the daily paper, taking part in activities, or visiting with others. Her willingness to engage with others comes with ease but should you need a reason for more, just come see the well thought, lovingly created mural of family photographs and personal achievements displayed throughout her room. 

"I love photographs; I this [wall of photos] made."

We go over several of them and I learn about her life and loved ones. 

"These are my cousins children and I helped to raise them. I babysat for their mother while she worked. We're a close knit family." 

Ms. Linda, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, is always active in the facility and most proud to have completed a 60 mile walk for Cancer.

Ms. Linda, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, is always active in the facility and most proud to have completed a 60 mile walk for Cancer.

It's clear how proud she is to show off the life she's been surrounded with. I wasn't sure if she would be able to narrow down her favorite when I asked if she could choose just one.

“[My favorite picture is] my walk and the picture of the kids up there, the big one. I did the walk for cancer, 60 miles. I’m 70. I had breast cancer and I’m cancer free."

[It makes me feel] happy. I spend a lot of time looking at them.”

DECLARATIONS: THE HIDDEN STORIES OF PRINTED PHOTOS (MS. Jan)

"I have always had in my home a wall of family pictures. My children all have pictures of my husband, themselves, their brothers and sisters and things. My youngest daughter has all of the photos that used to be in a shoebox. The kids would always have such fun when they’d come to visit me, they’d all be home going through those pictures saying, ‘Do you remember this?!’ and ‘Oh! Look at that!’ It was just a joy for me to sit and listen and watch. I started putting them into albums and she has all of those, too. I would hope that she would pass them down.

"This photograph represents a lot of family memories and DC trips we had. Probably between ’65 and ’68, I would think. It could have been 1969.  We moved out here, everyone who had ever known us wanted to come visit! I became a DC tour guide for everyone. 

Ms. Jan tells many stories of family visits as we look at her photos. 

Ms. Jan tells many stories of family visits as we look at her photos. 

Ms. Jan with her parents. 

Ms. Jan with her parents. 

"One of the reasons I love this picture is because it’s of my mother and my husband, and my mother and my husband are both gone, so it’s pretty special to me. I just wish my dad was in it (my dad took the picture).

"They (my parents) used to live in Iowa and they would come out for a visit a couple a times a year. We would drive around and give them a tour of DC, I think this was the first time they were there. We probably went out to some nice restaurant for dinner and Mt. Vernon. We just had such a nice day that day. My parents were both in good health and happy.

If I had come over, sat on your couch, and we started talking, even though the story you just told me isn’t this specific photograph, this photograph brings up all of these memories and represents a lot of other family D.C. trips that we had."

 

 

 

 

DECLARATIONS: THE HIDDEN STORIES OF PRINTED PHOTOS (MS. MYRTLE)

This may surprise some people but walking into strangers lives and asking them for intimate details is not always greeted with open arms. It's completely understandable, of course, to be wary of a girl with a camera and a asking to record a conversation with her. It was a pleasant surprise when I was greeted by Ms. Mable with bright eyes, a giant smile, and a strong, friendly, 'Well, hello!'.

One of the things that I love about Ms. Mable is she knows exactly what has made her happy in life and isn't afraid to share it with others. You get the sense that she knows you'll be just as happy to hear it as she is to tell it - and she's right. Not only is her joy contagious, her stories have made her an inspiration to me on a personal level. I make sure to remind her each time I see her that I'm doing my best to carry her spirit over to my own young daughters.   

Ms. Myrtle, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, with her accomplishments proudly displayed as the facilities Spotlight Resident. 

Ms. Myrtle, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, with her accomplishments proudly displayed as the facilities Spotlight Resident. 

“The first greatest thing is my life is my children, I’ve got 7 sons and 2 daughters. The second is my nursing degree and the third is my award from President Obama (I volunteered 100 hours in one year).

"I got my nursing license in the 60’s. It was hard, people don’t like to talk about it now but Annapolis was a very segregated place. We were there when the civil rights leaders were marching and everything. My sister was holding a banner, marching in front of the segregated restaurants. They would throw hot water on her. But then [eyes widening], Martin Luther came along. I was a nurse and housewife, and he was doing his thing for the civil rights. I kept up with it, I was so proud that I was born on the same birthday as him.

"I was fortunate to have my dream, and that was to be a nurse. And to have children – I just loved hanging on to them! My grandmother used to say, ‘God said to get married and multiply, but you don’t have to do it all by yourself!’ [laughs]

I’ve had a lot of ups and downs – but that’s life. I was up, things would happen that made them go down, but you’ve got to hang in there. I thank God I able to grow up in the past generation and the present.”

Working with Julia Kelleher

While many creatives are thought to be simply ‘blessed’ or ‘lucky’ to have the ability to hone into that artistic gene, a little known fact about us is that behind the brush, pencil, or lens and deeply pitted behind the scenes is a constant feed of education. Surprised?

Certainly education comes in all forms (thank goodness) and while the internet, combined with social media, has provided incredible avenues to easily and affordably access a way to learn, being side by side another professional in the field is invaluable on many levels. 

I greatly miss the days of being in the SCAD classrooms, listening to a wide range of perspectives on how to improve, feeling the energy of a small room barely able to contain so much artistic energy from a handful of people, and being continuously challenged to push my skills to a higher level. 

In June I had an incredible opportunity to personally mentor next to a Photographer who has inspired, educated, and pushed me over the internet the last several years, Julia Kelleher of Jewel Images, Inc. A jam packed 36 hours in Bend, Oregon with Julia, Beth, and Belinda (the lovely ladies behind the newborn and maternity images adored by many) proved to be even more valued than I had hoped. 

Maryland Print Artist and Photographer, Teresa Robertson, visits with Julia Kelleher of Jewel Images (Bend, OR).

Maryland Print Artist and Photographer, Teresa Robertson, visits with Julia Kelleher of Jewel Images (Bend, OR).

Each and every step I take when working with my sweet clients, especially their newest bundle of joy, is a dance I’m constantly working to perfect between creativity, skill, and professionalism. While I understand why there may be a misconception with Photographers that there isn’t much more to simply picking up the best camera within arms reach and simply clicking the shutter, I take pride in sharing with my clients through their experience with me that I’m trained to do so much more than that. 

Over many moves and many workplaces (#MilitaryLife), I’ve been so fortunate to have picked up part of my skills with ‘on the job training’ from being a makeup artist for mannequins to working at the headquarters of Careerbuilder, all in addition to my formal education. I know with every job, there was an aspect of others outside of the position not always knowing the ins and outs of what truly when into a days work (have you ever been asked, ‘Honey, what do you do all day?’).   

I certainly don’t expect - or even want - you to know the fine details and training that go into your time with me. What I want is to feel confident that I am providing you the greatest service and product I can. More important than that, I want you to feel that I cared so much more about preserving your memories than just picking up a camera and clicking the shutter.

Thank you again to the women behind Jewel Images for being another important piece to my development and allowing me to create the heirlooms of your memories. I look forward to showing you what I have gained from this experience with Julia Keller in many sessions to come.

 

DECLARATIONS: THE HIDDEN STORIES OF PRINTED PHOTOS (MS. VIRGINIA)

I almost wasn't allowed to interview Ms. Virginia. After a story that was written about her than wasn't 100% correct (I don't believe it was a malicious intent), she was determined not to let that happen again. Truth be told, if I were over 100 years old and still going strong, I would probably be just as passionate that my story be told right. 

One of the pleasant surprises in interviewing people in this series has been the stories of friendship. Maybe I need to expand my expectations a bit, but love stories, war, work, and family are pretty much what I expected to hear throughout my conversations. The pictures and tales of girlfriends sticking together for years through good times and bad just warms my heart and feels so encouraging to know that the memory of these friendships have lasted.

“My husband and I were married August 29th and Pearl Harbor came. He had just gotten a job; we were engaged quite a while because he didn’t have a job and you couldn’t just get them back then. It was a time when people were selling apples and anything they could do. So, he got a job with the government and hadn’t had it too long when we got married.

"We moved to Philidelphia in a Jewish neighborhood on 56th and Pine and I loved it. The people couldn’t have been any nicer no matter what you think. I went to a little Jewish delicatessen and my Jewish friend, Sylvia, and I would go to the barrel (I wish they had a Jewish delicatessen here), she’d pick out a tomato, I’d pick out a nice hot pickle, and a big bag of potato chips. And we’d sit on the steps and eat it. She’d say, ‘Gini, I’m going to make a Jew out of you yet!’ laughs

Ms. Virginia, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, with family photos and stories of her best friend. 

Ms. Virginia, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, with family photos and stories of her best friend. 

"Sylvia lived above me. One day, when she came down to see me – nobody ever locked their door – she just walked into the room and she said, ‘Gini, guess what? I’ve been watching this candy bar there on your window sill.’ I said, ‘On my window sill?’  

‘Yes!’

Well, I went over, I moved the curtain and there was a big candy bar. My husband would hide things for me, everywhere. We didn’t have a whole lot of money but he would hide things like that. He would say, ‘I wanted to see if she dusted.’ Laughs

He had a great sense of humor, he really did.

Some of Ms. Virginia's family photos. 

Some of Ms. Virginia's family photos. 

DECLARATIONS: THE HIDDEN STORIES OF PRINTED PHOTOS (MS. CHRISTEL)

Before meeting Ms. Christel I was told that she was quite proud of her apartment, which was easy to understand, given the tastefully decorated interior. Her introduction was warm and as fast as I could admire her beautiful furniture and fresh flowers, she was making me feel right at home, chatting about her day, what was to come, and how much she loved where she lived.

Her sweet and cozy space held a lot of natural light, was incredibly tidy, and seemed to house exactly what she would need on a day-to-day basis. Surrounded by many gorgeous framed photographs, I commented on how I appreciated that she chose to surround herself with her memories.

Her eyes brightened. ‘Oh! Would you like to see my albums?’

We walked to the living room to the very narrow closet door. I don’t know how many albums I was expecting to find – I can assure you it was much less than what I found.

“I’m telling you – I sit in that chair almost every night and look at my photo albums for hours. We [my family] have so many fun memories. I try to watch TV but there’s never anything important on.”

Ms. Christel proudly displaying her album collection. 

Ms. Christel proudly displaying her album collection. 

I couldn’t believe how many there were. Looking back, I should have possibly asked to count her dinnerware set, just to see which there were more of. Cruises, celebrations, weddings, family, and custom made photo books to commemorate anniversaries and birthdays. It was impressive and joyful.

If there were photos that didn’t somehow include her husband, I don’t remember. We talked of how fond they were of one another, the adventures they had. I asked her how it all began.

“One afternoon at a café in Germany, a friend said to me, ‘Look at that nice looking gentleman at the bar.’ I didn’t pay much mind and went about my visit with her.

When it was time to leave I began walking down the street to my transportation stop and I could tell I was being followed. Once I reached my destination, I turned to find it was the gentleman from the café bar.

I said (confidently), ‘Why are you following me?’  

He replied, ‘Because I liked what I saw.’ “

She makes a swooning gesture.

While I am certainly an advocate for printing images, it’s witnessing others making the choice to spend time reliving happy memories over a game show or rerun, that give me the gentle reminder to revisit my images (cell phone, professional, or anything in between) and make sure I am up to date on preserving them in some tangible form. I like to think one of the reasons Ms. Christel still holds her smile sweet and has a warm twinkle in her eye is because of the constant love she is shown through reminders of her family and loved ones; and that’s a pretty wonderful way to stay happy.

Ms. Christel still swoons over her husband to this day. 

Ms. Christel still swoons over her husband to this day. 

 

Declarations: The Hidden Stories of Printed Photos (Ms. Catherine)

Volunteering is near and dear to my heart, though it wasn't something even on my radar growing up. I'm sure it's because of this that I'm always amazed by the people I meet who have accomplished amazing things reaching out to others and all on their own time. 

Ms. Catherine was my very first interview at Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, so I was still getting my bearings as to how our conversation may go. Without skipping a beat and as calmly as could be presented, Ms. Catherine told me of all the work she had done in New York, volunteering so passionately in the community that she had been recognized by President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Mayor Bloomberg - just to name a few. 

Ms. Catherine holds a signed image from Michelle Obama.

Ms. Catherine holds a signed image from Michelle Obama.

'My favorite picture, I can't find. We were at Gracie Mansion, being poured champagne, and acknowledged for the work we had done.' Despite not locating this image, there were so many that supported her efforts and showed a lifetime of love towards others, all fascinating to go through and hear stories of. 

I'm so inspired by women like her. Going through the stacks of photos just lend another level of appreciation and tangible way to be encouraged. 

Ms. Catherine, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, holding a portion of the recognitions she's received through her work in New York. 

Ms. Catherine, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, holding a portion of the recognitions she's received through her work in New York. 

DECLARATIONS: THE HIDDEN STORIES OF PRINTED PHOTOS (MS. Vivian)

It wasn't planned, you can barely even see us (let alone recognize us) but I am so grateful to have a photo of my husband's and my first date together. In celebration of my own anniversary, I thought it would be appropriate to share Ms. Vivian's photo with you of one of her first dates with her husband. 

After exchanging pleasantries, I looked around the room; it was clear to me what photo must be her favorite. 

Classic black and white, this photo looked like something out of an advertisement. Two fresh faced, beaming young adults so naturally beautiful and passing their joyful smiles right back to whomever was their audience. There wasn't any indication of the scene, though they were clearly at the beach. I wondered if it were a quiet getaway or if the gang from Beach Blanket Bingo were in the background. Whatever was going on, I wanted to be there. 

Ms. Vivian, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, holding a photo of her husband and her during one of their first dates.

Ms. Vivian, resident of Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center, holding a photo of her husband and her during one of their first dates.

When I expressed how much I loved this picture, she sort of laughed and said, "Really?" as though she couldn't have understood why. I told her I wished my husband and I had one just like it and asked if it was one of her favorites; she sort of shrugged. "My children went through some of my stuff, found it and kept it. Stored it away with other family things and when they went through it again, they liked it so much they framed it. They made a copy and told me to put it out."

I had to laugh, mainly because I could see having the same conversation with my own family. 

"There must be some importance to this photograph. What was going on at the time?''

“My husband had just come back from WWII, a Marine, and it was one of our first dates that we went to – the beach. That’s why he doesn’t have a shirt on. He was only 18 when he went into the Marines to fight in the South Pacific and I was just graduating high school (I didn’t know him before). That was the only action he was in, not quite 2 years.

My sister and he were on the same college campus and one Sunday morning when we all got out of church, she introduced me to him. This photo would have been taken amongst the first 5 dates. I don’t think [our date] was that much different; he would pick me up, we would go to Virginia Beach. I’m not a swimmer but he is. I imagine he just took me home and I probably asked when we could go out again. I don't know what we were laughing at but probably my sister because I still have this picture."

I loved that she was confident enough to ask for another date and have to think her then suitor must have thought the same. 

I asked her, "If that isn't your favorite photo of the two of you, what is?"

She pointed to a more formal picture of the two of them, clearly a little later in their marriage. "I would have to say this one. I'm not sure why or what we were doing. But we were together."

Ms. Vivian and her husband, later in their marriage.

Ms. Vivian and her husband, later in their marriage.

Declarations: The Hidden Stories of Printed Photos (Ms. Gay)

I never ceases to amaze me how often we can casually be around someone for a good amount of time and never really know what amazing things they’ve accomplished in life.

Gay and I attend the same church in Annapolis and we see each other fairly often. Our conversations have never been lengthy, just your typical pleasantries exchanged; though with her ability to light up any room with her warm smile, I’ve always appreciated when she was near.

While I certainly assume everyone has stories to share, I realize I am not asking nearly enough for them to be shared. I don’t know what I expected to hear when I asked if Gay worked outside of the home when her children were young but I can assure you it wasn’t the answer I received.

“I worked for NASA for 30 years; I was there for the first flight. We [women] all started out in a clerical position when we first went in. As people retired and aged out, they didn’t replace them because by that time the government had turned so much of the work over to contractors, so I ended up being in charge of the whole section. I was in charge of all of the documentation for the flights.”

Gay was one of the first people I asked to interview and my first appointed for this passion project. She set the bar pretty high; not only did we meet outside of her home, she brought stacks and stacks of photo albums with her.

Annapolis, Maryland resident Ms. Gay with one of her custom family albums. 

Annapolis, Maryland resident Ms. Gay with one of her custom family albums. 

Not just any kind of photo albums – custom, thoughtfully arranged photo albums that she goes through and curates individually for her children and grandchildren. For now she holds on to them so that she can reminisce on her own but these are ultimately created to be passed on when the time is appropriate.

“Through the years, we all had picture albums. I’m 82, so those generations we had picture albums because we didn’t have the phones to take a picture. If somebody took a picture, you passed it around the family so that everyone had a picture. I thought about the fact that everybody now in the family around my granddaughter’s age, all of their pictures are in their phone or the pictures are on a CD that the Photographer gave them. I don’t like it because most of the time I don’t get copies of the CD’s and I don’t have an iPhone. They’ll say, ‘Look at the pictures I took!’ and they’ll show me on their iPhone, then their phone goes away...and I don’t have it for reminiscing.

“I want my family to remember things. When your children get older and they start talking about their past – half of it’s wrong [laughs]. And I will tell you, even if it sounds like a funny story, I don’t want only the bad times remembered. I want to make sure they talk about the good times and the memories like these [points to albums]; every birthday, every holiday, every Easter with their little shoes, and their little gloves, and their little hat…they’re all in there. I want to make sure my grandchildren know about the good times.

I think it will help the memories be perpetuated through the years. We get very sentimental as we get older through the years.”

Ms. Gay shows off just a few of the photos that celebrate special times in her family. 

Ms. Gay shows off just a few of the photos that celebrate special times in her family. 

On one hand, piecing these albums together is clearly a lot of work. On the other, the value these albums will bring through the years and generations to come far exceeds the time they took to create.

Declarations: The Hidden Stories of Printed Photos (Mr. Ed)

Mr. Ed is a stranger to no one; which is good since he has people wanting to talk to or interview him on a regular basis. Featured in the book Brave Ship Brave Men by Arnold S. Lott and video Veteran Voices – Edward Strine, many come to hear his stories of being on the USS Aaron Ward Destroyer during WWII - specifically when a suicide plane hit.

The story is well rehearsed. Possibly from telling it repeatedly, making sure key details aren’t left out, or maybe the script helps keep an emotional distance. No matter how it’s told, the horror of it and the amazement that he is alive to tell it at all is captivating to anyone who listens. He humbly ends with, ‘I’m well respected; I try to treat people well, encourage them, and take each day as it comes. I feel I’m doing God’s work – I’m very close to God.’

Mr. Ed holding a photo of his ‘Blue eyed Irish angel’. He is surrounded by images of his time with the Navy and his wife.

Mr. Ed holding a photo of his ‘Blue eyed Irish angel’. He is surrounded by images of his time with the Navy and his wife.

As we sit and I listen to his story, I look around his room filled with American memorabilia, awards, and newspaper clippings. These are recognizable and catch my attention at first, accessories to what I’m being told. Slowly, I start to notice the balance within his belongings.

‘Is this your wife?’

Suddenly, the mood shifts and I am being introduced to his ‘Blue-eyed Irish Angel’. It’s easy – and rightfully so – to become consumed with his grand display of military items Mr. Ed has in him home. Just a bit of a closer look, however, and you start to see an equally important part his life that not as many people ask about.  

“She [my wife] was 9 and I was 11 in elementary school. We were out playing softball and I could tell the [inaudible] was going to hit someone off to the side where they were watching us. I walked over to apologize and then when I got there I saw she was in the middle [of the crowd] crying, she was scared. So I went home to tell my mother, she said, ‘Eddie, you did the right thing.’ Next day she came across, this nine-year-old girl, walking across the field and had something in her hand. She said, ‘Mr. Ed, thank you for your handkerchief.’ I said, ‘I don’t think I had a handkerchief (laughs)’. She said, ‘Oh, yes you did. Thank you, sir.’

She’s my blue eyed, Irish girl. She was an angel, in every aspect. She taught me to be a gentleman. I was devastated [when she died]. I really was.”

Mr. Ed, known for his war stories, passionately talked about the love he has for his wife. 

Mr. Ed, known for his war stories, passionately talked about the love he has for his wife. 

He tells me small stories of their time together and, unlike his recollection of his time in the Navy, it’s not exactly what he says, but the tender, insistent way he speaks of her. Over and over again he speaks of what an angel she was during their time together and how she is the reason he became the man he is today.

After talking about several photos he has of his love, I ask him which would be one of the most important to him.

“This [photo] is when she was sick, knew she was going to die. They couldn’t do anything more for her and we’re going off the beach one last time. That’s a memory.”

 

DECLARATIONS: THE HIDDEN STORIES OF PRINTED PHOTOS (Ms. Mary)

In the center of a bustling community, there is one door that stays a little busier than most. As I walk to Ms. Mary's front door, I pass a group of people gathered outside, relaxed and seemingly in no hurry to be anywhere than each other's company. I'm greeted with smiles and half waves, and I'm pretty sure if I had pulled up a chair to seat myself next to them, there wouldn't be much protest. 

Inside Ms. Mary's more people are gathered but in a much more organic fashion: two individuals seated on different sides of the couch, someone in the kitchen, voices of younger kids in the back bedrooms, and Ms. Mary in the center of it all at the dining table. 

I'm unfamiliar with everyone but I instantly feel at home, as though I'm back in my Grandmother's house as a child with cousins and distant relatives coming and going with ease. In such a cozy setting there's a such an air of openness, acceptance, and comfort that I haven't felt in a long time. It's clear that this is a known gathering place for a laugh, a quick 'borrow' of celery, or just to be silent in the presence of others. 

In the middle of of the activity centered with Ms. Mary is a large, painterly portrait of a man. He looks strong but kind, old enough to be an adult but still young. 

“This is my first born son, his name is Calvin Eugene Parker. He was born June 5th. His hobbies were music, cooking, getting on my nerves [laughs]. He got sick when he was about 25, wound up with COPD. Most of it came from he got into drugs. It really messed up his lungs. He went into a coma about 5 years after he got sick. He came out November 24th, which was Thanksgiving. We sat, we had dinner, we laughed, we talked, he got up to leave, he collapsed in the parking lot, and he passed away.

Ms. Mary with her husband, Calvin, and their first born son, Calvin Jr.

Ms. Mary with her husband, Calvin, and their first born son, Calvin Jr.

I think of him all the time but it’s harder on Thanksgiving when I get up and I start preparing for the day. I talk to him. Sometimes I come out and I just sit there, especially when I’m having a bad day and I just talk to him and say, ‘Oh, Bird. Here we is again.’ (That’s what we used to call him).

We had good times, we had happy times. He loved to cook. We used to have cookouts and we’d have parties, him and I in the kitchen and we liked to compete. He would say, ‘You make your dish and I’ll make mine’. We would compete with one another for whose taste the best. We loved getting together, cooking, having fun, playing cards. He was a sweetheart. Oh, we had happy times. We had some sad. I used to get into his crap like I do the rest of them, when they’re getting into the stuff they shouldn’t be getting into. Ole Mother Bear would come out. All of my kids get along – to a certain extent (what Momma says, goes). But I think we have a nice, happy, tight nit family.

No matter what is going on, he’s still a part of the family. We don’t see him as ‘gone’. When we all get together, the whole family gets together.”

Photography as a Healing Art: How Volunteering with NILMDTS Changed my Life

It’s interesting how sometimes the things we are called to do appear almost ‘out of nowhere’. It was several years ago that I knew I wanted to dedicate a portion of my time and services to a specific cause – I just wasn’t sure what.

As much as I enjoy taking the reigns to research things (sometimes a little too much), I am equally just as interested in reaching out to others for new ideas. When I presented my desire to volunteer to others, I received an immediate response back: Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.

Co-founder Cheryl Haggard and her baby boy Maddux. Photo Credit: Sandy Puc Photography

Co-founder Cheryl Haggard and her baby boy Maddux. Photo Credit: Sandy Puc Photography

I had never heard of the organization before and – as mentioned above – quickly put on my detective hat. When I read their mission statement, “To introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with a free gift of professional portraiture”, I knew this was the type of powerful gift I was looking to give.

It’s been just over a year that I’ve been with NILMDTS. I am a volunteer photographer and also serve on the Member Application Committee where I have the honor of reviewing the portfolios of photographer applicants (yes, there is an application process simply to serve with the organization due to the quality of work we are expected to give and the sensitivity of our work).

I am incredibly proud of the work I do for the families requesting our services. To know that I am a bringing a small gift of comfort and am given the honor to meet their sweet child is absolutely life changing. As a Photographer, I can’t imagine a greater way to give back to families by using my gift.

Not a Photographer but still interested in making a difference? Additional volunteer opportunities with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep can be found here. 

I'm Going Back to My Roots

Each summer I am thrown off by the same question:

"Where are you all going on your family vacation this summer?"

Oh. Right. People do that. 

A portrait of my daughter at the beach. Fine Art Photography for Newborns, Children, and Family based near Annapolis, MD

Don't get me wrong - we do things. But unless we are visiting one of four states we have family in, there's not much 'vacationing' outside of that. 

This summer was different. An entire 3 weeks would be dedicated to travel. I would be taking my 3 children on a 3,000 mile road trip and cap it off with my husband, eldest child, and I spending 10 days in Haiti. 

It. Was. Incredible. I totally see why people do this. 

In the midst of the road trip, I spent a good chunk of time at my grandparents. I hadn't been in years and it felt incredible to be surrounded by so many familiar things again, generations and heirlooms cuddled together in a cozy Florida bungalow. 

Portrait by Hans Nagel - Post written by Robertson & co. Photography, Annapolis Photographer of Newborn, Children, Family, and Fine Art Portraits. 

My grandparents are pretty incredible for many reasons, one being that any time I go out with them they are mistaken for my parents due to their youthful looks. Another is that they have dealt early American antiques for 50+ years. Mike from American Pickers actually reached out to my grandfather once regarding a bike he had.

As I walked around their home after having been gone for so long, what has always been so familiar and comforting to me was suddenly seen in a new light. I don't often walk into homes like my grandparents: original wood items dating over a hundred years, iron lamps, hand sewn blankets, leather bound books. 

I paused by one of the deep, dark oil portraits one day when it hit me: This is where I come from. 

Artist Unknown; Please contact for further information. - Post written by Robertson & co. Photography, Annapolis Photographer of Newborn, Children, Family, and Fine Art Portraits. 

I've always been cautioned: "That seems a little dark, don't you think?" But dark never quite registered as something negative to me (unless the subject matter was appropriate, of course). Rather than slipping into the shadows, I often feel that light is emerging. A warm, rich brown has a way of comforting a subject, like your favorite blanket. Darkness puts the light on display, as though it's allowing only the most important of details to be shown. Somehow, it always just seemed to have a little bit of a better story behind it. 

Again, despite the muted greens of the 1950's and the throat clutching oranges of the 1970's, what was handed down to my parents were the subtle, neutral tones of a time well before that. What this realization would have done for me back in high school; Rather than feed off of the assumption that 'dark' was the fad of a disgruntled teen, a little knowledge of chiaroscuro could have probably done us all a bit of good. 

I certainly have a love for light as well but that will be left for a different post. I have to assume that there will be a better understanding of the appeal in that, however. For now, I'm happy to have another piece of the puzzle that makes me. Allows me to provide history for others. A reminder that my love for an unconventional beauty might just be what makes me the light. 

Teresa specializes in fine-art, heirloom portraits, allowing her clients to reflect on those they love during the rush of everyday life. A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, Teresa has been displayed in 20+ publications and is passionate about serving others through organizations such as Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and traveling to Haiti. 

How Printing Photos Can Raise Your Child’s Self Worth

I talk a lot about the importance of printing photographs but what’s even more convicting to me is what I am personally witnessing with my 16 year old.

When he was born, I was still a film photographer. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of photos of him as a newborn up until a young child. Then 2 things happened: 1) digital took over and 2) he didn’t grow up thinking social media was ‘the place to be’. At least not Facebook – where so many of his photos were stored.

Fine Art Photography for Newborns, Children, and Family based near Annapolis, MD

“Is that me?”

“Yes! Don’t you remember this day? I look at this photo all the time!”

It dawns on me how I almost feel as though I’m holding these sweet memories of his life captive. Now, granted, he has the power to login and look himself. But to his ‘anti-facebook’ mind, he has no concept of how many people have viewed this, loved this, and commented on how amazing he is.

There was an excellent article written the Baltimore Sun ran discussing how printed images of our children, displayed in the home, can actually enhance a child’s self esteem and help them get to know themselves. I encourage you to read it and share your thoughts. Did you have photos displayed in your home growing up? Do you now? Are they in ‘common areas’ or more ‘private’ rooms?

This is just one of the reasons I am more and more adamant in my business to make sure that your photographs are printed and printed to last. Yes, I am a photographer and specialize in capturing you and those you most love. I also have such an attachment to the families, children, and newborns I photograph that it is my sincere desire that my photographs truly lend a positive impact for years to come.  - Teresa

Teresa specializes in fine-art, heirloom portraits, allowing her clients to reflect on those they love during the rush of everyday life. A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, Teresa has been displayed in 20+ publications and is passionate about serving others through organizations such as Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and traveling to Haiti. 

& co.

I loved the process of naming my children. So much, in fact, that I made it last as long as possible. None were named until after they were birthed and one was getting loaded into her car seat to leave the hospital when we finally settled on one. When I meet my newborns, I love to also hear what middle name was selected and if there are any stories or family legacies that are involved in the names chosen.

When it came time to name my Maryland business, it was just as joyful – and lengthy. I wanted to make sure whatever I chose represented my business well but also paid tribute to everyone who was responsible for making it come to life. That involved my family, children, friends, and clients.

I am often asked how many people work for my “ and company”. Up until the amazing Brittany (my assistant) came to help, it was just me.

So why ‘& co.’?

In my mind, it takes a village. There is no way I could take 100% credit for what I do. This journey began very long ago, taking my parents support through getting my degree, my son for driving me to receive it with honors, my husband for letting me spread my wings, my friends and family who have supported me, and my clients who believed in me so much to allow me to keep my business open throughout the years.

 & co. is there to recognize you. Thank YOU. You are just as much a part of this and I wouldn’t be here without you.  - Teresa

Teresa specializes in fine-art, heirloom portraits, allowing her clients to reflect on those they love during the rush of everyday life. A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, Teresa has been displayed in 20+ publications and is passionate about serving others through organizations such as Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and traveling to Haiti. 

Why Product Quality Matters

ANNAPOLIS NEWBORN, CHILD, FAMILY, & FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHER

Have you ever wondered what the difference is when it comes to what materials Photographers print their images on and how they choose who to go with? 

Fine Art Photography for Newborns, Children, and Family based near Annapolis, MD

I wrote a post quite some time ago that deserves mention again, how what you see isn't always what you get. There truly is a big difference in printing companies, materials, how that affects pricing, and how long your photos will actually last. Here is an example of the same child's photograph printed from 'popular' printing companies, often used when clients order only digital negatives:

Sometimes digital negatives aren't the investment you intended them to be. 

Photographers often base their printing loyalties based on three big factors: quality, price, and/or material. When you look for a Photographer, are you searching for traditional prints? Something no one else has? Are you concerned with loving it now...and  passing it along for your children to love later?

Given my education and love for 'traditional' art mediums, much of 2015 was spent researching companies that would provide exceptional materials for my clients to display their art from our session. To combine images that I am proud of on materials worthy of family heirlooms, makes me know without a shadow of a doubt that I am truly providing the best service and lasting products to you. That's why in 2016 I will no longer be offering 'gift prints' and instead supply my clients with images you'll want to display in your home for years to come.

From delicate newborn lashes to generations together in a family portrait - your art is meant to imitate your life and all of it's loveliness. Learn more about my gorgeous, unique products here.  - Teresa

Teresa specializes in fine-art, heirloom portraits, allowing her clients to reflect on those they love during the rush of everyday life. A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, Teresa has been displayed in 20+ publications and is passionate about serving others through organizations such as Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and traveling to Haiti.