Inspo: Why Family Photos Matter | Thomas Allen Harris

Lately I’ve been harping about the importance of photographing what you love. For me it’s family. When I first started taking photography seriously as a creative outlet, I didn’t view my family as subject matter, so I rarely turned my lens toward them. This is something I regret every day. Fast forward to today, now I’m a dad with a family of my own. All I ever photograph it seems is my family, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I have vivid memories of my mom always with a camera nearby taking photos of milestones. It seems like her Kodak Instamatic was never too far. School play, snap. Thanksgiving, snap. Graduation, snap. All those photos tucked away in albums. Then on August 24th 1992 Hurricane Andrew makes landfall. At that time, Hurricane Andrew was the most destructive storm to ever hit the United States. Before the storm, I remember my mother putting the family photo albums and countless envelopes of negatives in garbage bags then putting those garbage bags into big blue plastic Rubbermaid tubs. It didn’t dawn on me until a few years later that she was protecting family memories, our history, our record. While our home was destroyed, those blue plastic tubs full of photos survived and so did our family history in photos. This left an indelible mark on me, motivating me to document my own family and more importantly PRINT those photos.

I recently discovered a show on PBS called Family Pictures: USA, a new three-part PBS series created and hosted by filmmaker and photographer Thomas Allen Harris, explores American cities, towns and rural communities through the lens of the family photo album. When I was doing more research about the show I came across this Ted Talk from its creator and host. If you are at all interested in photographing your family, telling your family story, it’s worth the watch.