Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday Musings (On Photography and What it Means to Me)

My great great Grandfather, Lyman Bigelow, was a photographer of some note.  His daughter, my great aunt Lou (Louise) was also a professional photographer all of her life.  My dad took up photography in earnest in middle life.  He does remember, however, working with his aunt in her studio and darkroom, rocking the pans full of chemicals as the photographs developed.
LG Bigelow, studio portrait 1871.

My dad bought me my first 'real' camera, a Nikon FM, when I was 20.  I've been making pictures ever since.  My first husband was/is a photographer.  My daughter is quite a good photographer.  My husband now, is an excellent photographer.  Gee, I think there might be a theme here.

Today I had the great pleasure of loaning a young man one of my older digital cameras.  He has been our dog sitter for the past year, has just graduated college and is trying to figure out what to do -- he has so many options, actually, and that's part of the problem.  He loves all the photos hanging on our walls, and expressed that he would love to learn the art.  So I set him up with camera and sundry equipment.  He came over today and we went through the camera operations.  We stepped out into the bright sunlight and he took some shots.  Light.  Shadow.  Close up.  Far away.  Back inside, sipping our water, he reviewed them and had a couple of very sharp insights as to what he could do with a camera.

He's searching for his voice.  I think the camera will be an excellent vehicle for him.  I suggested he go sit in Central Park and observe people.  Make some pictures.  Walk around town.  Take the camera everywhere, not just out in order to make pictures.  Pictures are all around us every day.  If you leave the camera at home, you've missed opportunities. 

By the time he hopped on his bicycle to ride back to campus, I was feeling like quite the proud mama, sending my boy out into the grand world of photography.  I look forward to working with him, being his sounding board.  His excitement is palpable.  What fun!

Making serious photographs has been a constant in my life for 38 years.  Few activities can match the pleasure of photography.  I love that I am one in a line of artists in my family.  I'm carrying on what my ancestor started 150 years ago.  Thank you, Lyman, for kickin' it off in grand style.


  1. "you've missed opportunities." Absolutely so, particularly at dawn and dusk when light can be so exquisite and effects all on which it falls.

  2. This is wonderful Tara! Great tradition in your family,

  3. Love knowing the long history of your family's photographic artistry. Such a wonderful legacy, and you carry it on so well. Wonderful!

  4. You are a nice person. You're doing for your sitter what everyone should be doing for everybody. I have always admired you (well, since I've known you) and you are doing nothing to change that. ;-)

  5. you see, most important of all, I often find myself thinking. "I wish I had seen that"!

  6. What a great tradition for a family. My husband's dad had a knack with it and took some great black and white images back in the day. My daughter has those negatives. I started with a Brownie Hawkeye and have never stopped with cameras.

    It was fun with one of my recent historics, set in 1901, to realize that cameras would be used by an archaeologist. We had one of the sort she'd have used and bought another one. The summer has been too busy but the idea is to take some of the glass plate photos. In that story I realized the son of one of the characters had a knack for photography and it might be his future career as that was a time when photographers were beginning to photograph a vanishing world. I learned a lot about the process for that kind of work and the interest in it coming back today as they get a lot more detail than our more handy digital or even the slide photography I thought was the apex. I love photography and liked your piece here on it for your life :)