Elmo Slippers and toy airplane today

Young African American boy with Elmo Slippers and toy airplane playing in chair

Today he is wearing Elmo slippers playing with a toy airplane. Before long he won’t believe that he ever wore those slippers and will be craving expensive sneakers and car keys instead. How time flies.

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Here is where they used to live. This house was home.

Once upon a time there were two houses filled with large families, busy, loud, noisy.  The people rose early, worked in fields, sometimes in other people’s homes and then gathered in the evenings to share meals.  Bed time came early.  It was more radio than TV.  They lived far from town, owned no cars but then a lot of people didn’t own cars.  They sent their children to school by foot for many years until buses took them way on the other side.  They made do with what they had.  Had some good times, had some bad.  In some ways they were poor and in some ways they were not.  However, the house was home.

That was then and now the people are gone.  Their houses are almost too.

house hidden by overgrowth of weeds

house overgrown with weeds

Picturing Goodbye

Few people think of having funeral and memorial services photographed.  If done properly it can be a tremendous source of comfort to a family.  It might also be the only time for some families to take group portraits as members often live many miles apart and only see each other on such occasions.  When my mother passed almost 10 years ago, the services were beautiful and well attended with relatives that I haven’t seen since. I certainly wish pictures had been taken.

The pictures that I take do not focus on the deceased but on the people gathered.  Many of them are taken discretely from a distance.  Unless the family requests I do not take pictures during the ceremony but have found that afterwards and during the repast there are opportunities to capture images that will be treasured for years.  Sometimes this becomes the last time family members are photographed together.

Reasons I think a funeral is one of the best times to take pictures.

  1. It’s an important life event that can be documented for future generations.
  2. Often families in mourning are not able to focus on who is present and what events are happening.  Pictures allow them to be reminded.
  3. Photographs can bring comfort to family members later.  They can be reminders of how many people attended and how special the ceremony was.
  4. It’s an excellent opportunity for family portraits as sadly this is the time when the most family members are in one place. Often family members have not seen each other in years and may not see each again for years.
  5. At the repast people are nicely dressed and are usually willing to be photographed.  I have had family members who are not on speaking terms for some reason still agree to take a picture for this occasion.

horse drawn funeral carriage at cemetary

This beautiful horse-drawn carriage convinced me that I needed to have some kind of camera with me.  In this case it was my cell phone.

family gathered at cementary

Deceased laying in repose

family viewing loved one

Quiet moments can be taken quietly without intruding.

Mourners leaving church after funeral

Families often would never have an idea of the number of attendees.

family portrait during repast

family portrait after funeral  in Washington DC

For the two pictures above it would have been very difficult to have all of these family members gather in one place for these portraits except for these occasions.  After the repast families relax somewhat and are more open to pictures and often can even manage some smiles.

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Photos: Anchorage, AK In some ways just like being anywhere else. People are people.

If I were to ask you where do you think these pictures were taken, it is probably not likely that you would say Alaska.   Every direction I pointed my camera in Alaska there was something breathtaking to capture.  I also found the people in AK to be just as wonderful.  Here are a few people pictures. By the way, the food was good too.

I flew into Anchorage and other than a day cruise and a great train ride I simply wandered around the city and enjoyed every minute of it.  Been there yet?

Go to An Alaskan Summer to see images of  beautiful scenery and a remarkable train ride.

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couple takes buggy ride in Alaska

Horse drawn carriage ride

water skiing in alaska

Young man water skiing outside Anchorage

hot dog -  reindeer sausage stand in Alaska

Reindeer sausages were an almost everyday must have

apple slices in Anchorage

Even better than a caramel apple was an apple and a bowl of caramel to dip it into.

Washington, DC Ethiopian Engagement Party: Warm greetings and beautiful attire.

A few years back I photographed an engagement party for a wonderful Ethiopian couple.  It was one of the most fun parties I have worked.  I still recall the warm greetings and beautiful attire that the women wore.  There were interesting customs and great food in addition.

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Women anxioulsy waiting to greeting bride and groom

Warm greetings between two women in beautiful attire at Ethiopian Engagement Party in Washington, DC

Women warmly greet each other at Ethiopian Engagement Party

Women in beautiful attire warmly greet each other at Ethiopian Engagement Party