Cornwall Family Photographs – What My Dad’s Hockey Album Taught Me About Printing Photos
The guy in the cowboy hat in the big photo above is my dad. Two weeks ago, I helped him finish off a project he’s been looking forward to seeing out for almost two years. Today, I got to see the finished product in person.
In April 2016, he was part of a team that won the CARHA 60+ World Cup. Across all age divisions, there were 134 teams from 14 different countries, bringing the total number of athletes to 2500. It’s like the Olympics for senior hockey and it has been, without a doubt, the single biggest highlight of his very lengthy hockey career.
I knew, when he won, that it was a big deal. I was in Cuba at the time and was delayed getting info because internet use is heavily restricted, but when the messages came through about the progression of the team through the tournament, I was beaming with pride. When I got word that they had won the whole thing, I had a quietly jubilant moment in a town square by myself. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of my dad, but I’m not sure I’ve ever been a bigger fan than I was right at that moment. What I didn’t know – and what I learned two weeks ago – was just what that moment meant to each member of that team.
After returning home from the tournament, Dad amassed a collection of images from Mom’s phone, his own camera, the CARHA website, and the pro photographer who covered the event. He also collected emails, newspaper articles, logos, and a few other details to round out his telling of the story. And then, over multiple hours, we sat down together, sorted the images, Dad prepared the text, and we began creating a mammoth 64-page 11×14″ book (thank heavens for Fundy design software!).
Working on this project taught me a few key lessons – some about my dad, but several about the value of print.
Dad is a long-time sportsman who loves the skill and the strategy involved in a good hockey play. He gets on the ice because of a true love of the game and tends to be pretty humble about his own contributions. When I sat with him to work on the book, I saw just how much he valued each player and the story that each brought to the team. I saw that he understood each player’s role and their ability to contribute to both the team’s skill and spirit, which is ultimately what took them successfully through the championship game (which was so close, it was won in overtime).
While we were designing it, I also saw just how important this book was going to be. Our family has always had stacks of photos albums – there are dozens of them in Mom and Dad’s bookshelves – and that value for printed images has been passed down to my siblings and I. It was a foregone conclusion that a book would be made from the tournament, but I didn’t fully comprehend its importance until we got rolling.
It was extremely important that the book capture not just the moments from the games, but the spirit of the tournament: the energy that was part of the Parade of Nations and the opening ceremonies; the look of the arenas; the moments of downtime with teammates; and the fun “extras” like the Tim Horton’s van and the Molson Canadian beer fridge that the tournament organisers had managed to put together. The photos in the book span the entire week of hockey in Windsor, but also include photos from the celebrations that took place with our family when he got home. The emails that were printed out and re-typed so that they could be included showed the camaraderie between these grown men who had nothing but glowing praise for one another and humility for being given the privilege to be included on the team. There were no egos on display anywhere, and Dad managed to put together a book that shows that. What a beautiful representation of his legacy: humility, enthusiasm, and passion all packed into 64 pages.
Until I did this project, I hadn’t spent any significant amount of time considering what, exactly, these albums – event albums, wedding albums, family photo albums, day-in-the-life albums – really mean as a collection. I knew the value I placed on each individual photo and I knew that creating a tangible history is so very important to me, but this was very much a “forest for the trees” situation. I get so caught up in scrutinising the details of the “leaves” that I forget to take a step back and enjoy the overall view of the “treeline.” Until this project, I’ve not ever reflected on how an album, or a collection of albums, can truly give you insight into the people who left them behind. Yes, into the specifics of particular days or celebrations, but also into the person as a whole when you look at what mattered most, what moments were valuable enough for them to choose to keep. What a humbling revelation for me to realise that the work I do helps to form a part of this bigger picture in the homes of so many families.
So, this is my thought for today’s blog post: when you’re deciding what to do with your photos, think about your whole collection, not just the details. And when you’re done displaying particular photos on the walls of your home, be sure to put them somewhere (even if it’s a shoe box!) because, one day, some other child is going have a revelation of her own about your photographs.
Ang Waterton, owner of Moment.us Photography, has been providing Cornwall family photographs for the past five years. Check out more of www.momentusstudio.com to get a better understanding of the work she does to help create printed family legacies for her documentary family and wedding clients.