As I sit here reflecting on the past tumultuous year, I find nostalgia kicking in. Losing my beloved daddy in 2020 has had a profound effect on my outlook on life. Because of his death, I’ve realized that I’ve done the same thing so many of us do in life… I’ve hurried… hurried to the next lunch break…. hurried to get off work… hurried to the weekend… hurried to summer vacation…
I find myself sitting here wondering why. Why do we shovel ourselves into a career or other adult things that society expects of us only to find ourselves filled with dread and hurrying our lives away?
After pondering this thought for a few days, I finally realized that I need to slow down and enjoy life, while savoring many more of those small moments that actually matter to me… MANY more.
Moments That Matter
Looking back at old photographs and fondly remembering those small moments captured in time has always brought such a joy to my heart. Even though I’m not an expert photographer by any means, I love some of the photos that I took the year after I walked out of an unhealthy marriage. My camera was the first true gift I had ever allowed myself to splurge on and photography soothed me through that brutal time.
And then… as life goes… I found myself engulfed in adulthood once again and straying from photography other than the quick family shots I’ve made with my iPhone.
But while reminiscing at the end of the year and reflecting on my daddy’s death, I stumbled across my old photography gallery. A rush of memories about each shot came flooding back… where I was… the weather… the inside jokes… the conversations… each photo depicted one moment in time that mattered to me…
The Cotton Fields
One such memory the photos triggered was of the cotton fields. Daddy loved his cotton. Even after he gave up farming for factory work years ago, cotton was his favorite crop share harvest. I’m 53 and can count on one hand the number of years that something other than cotton was planted on our homestead.
Every year, daddy would drive around to check his crop. Once he gave up driving, one of us would act as his chauffeur. We’d drive slowly around the field several times, stopping occasionally to let Pops out to get a closer look. Cotton plants drooping heavily with open bolls always thrilled daddy’s soul and made him beam with pride.
These yearly drives with daddy had such an impact on my family. So much so that on September 8, 2020, with a few cotton blossoms tucked into his casket spray, we honored my daddy’s legacy by stopping his funeral procession in front of the homestead to let our beloved patriarch check his field one final time.
Memories of Freedom
With cotton being such a big part of my childhood, it’s no wonder that one of my favorite things to shoot was daddy’s cotton field during that summer and autumn of freedom after my divorce 10 years ago.
It all starts with that beautiful cotton blossom… pink and white beautifully surrounded by rich greens… the promise of what’s to come…
Standing tall… my camera gave me just a bit of strength to stand a little taller that year…
Awaiting glory… that’s what I felt like that August so long ago. To be honest, I still feel that way 10 years later.
Then, BOOM! Before you know it, the bolls burst into a calming sea of white!
Every time one of these photos sold, my daddy would light up and I would tease him that I was making more money off his cotton than he did. He would sit there in his recliner grinning and telling me that he was going to have to borrow some of that money from me. The delight on his face let me know that he was thrilled with the thought that his cotton brought joy to strangers around the world.
Back To My Roots
With these thoughts swirling in my head yesterday, I dug my old Canon out, cleaned it well, and took a few nervous practice shots. The moment that shutter clicked, that old familiar thrill trickled down my spine.
So here I sit… a new year… hard lessons learned from 2020… nostalgia engulfing me… and a burning desire inside me…
THIS is the year of returning to my roots for me.
I’ll soon be moving back to the homestead and I’ll be bringing my camera with me for the ride. I not only plan to shoot scenes from rural living, but I’d love to stretch my boundaries.
The Country Folks
As I browsed through photography blogs for inspiration yesterday, one thing struck me as odd… there are several famous street photographers telling the story of city dwellers, but fewer telling the stories of we country folks.
This movement back towards self-sufficiency is an important time in our history. I plan to honor my daddy’s life by documenting glimpses into the lives of those great men and women, just like my parents, who do the country hustle to put food on the table and provide for their families and neighbors.
Farmers… gardeners… homesteaders… I’m coming for you….