From what I remember, my grandmother was our family archivist and this was the camera she used. My uncle Eric remembered my grandfather attempting to act as the family photographer, but whose efforts at arranging the family in time-consuming poses never produced an actual photograph; while my grandmother’s photos, taken with her “cheap camera” always turned out wonderful images.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that my grandmother was a picture taker. I usually thought of her as the beautiful woman being photographed–and indeed, I thought my grandmother was a striking, naturally beautiful woman. She didn’t wear make-up, her hair was not dyed or processed, she wore very modest clothing and still, I thought she was compelling to look at. It took time for me to see beyond the woman who was so easy on the camera’s lens to be the one composing a record of her family’s daily life. I look at those photographs in order to see how she attempted to frame her family and what she desired to preserve.

Some of what might have fueled my grandmother’s desire to take pictures may have been inherited. There are pictures of my grandmother with her father and birth mother at a very early age.