Take a picture so people knew we existed. Take a picture so we can show it to auntie and uncle at home. Take a photograph so I can upload it to Facebook. Take a photograph so we knew what we looked like. Take this photograph as evidence we were here.
The photograph is a record of memory, of a time you do not immediately remember. The photograph prompts something within and this can come through a piece of clothing, a hire car or your sisters current hair cut. There are a range of points that prompt the memory. When you photograph somebody both the photographer and the subject remember everything about that transaction. The smell, the location, the temperature and the feeling. What you were doing and why you were taking the picture. It is the perfect reflection of memory.
The family photograph is something we aim to have but don't always do it. I know I have to prompt my family to get a picture of them so I can remember them as they were. The older people get the more important it is to see their face, even though a screen or a test print. It matters to remember your meeting.
In modern photography, possibly in the realm of art photography this technique is not always used due to its obvious connotations. It implies a amateurs view, but it is more than that. I remember seeing some incredible work by Julian Germain where he photographed families on 10x8 film and it was remarkable to see. The series was called Generations. It was so honest. So simple but made more sense than any other ambiguous attempt. We sometimes see the obvious as a threat and keeping it simple sometimes is the wrong way to go. But that isn't necessarily true. We want to explain our subject indirectly. But why is this?
Our need to review life after we've lived it is important because when we step out of the busy lives we make for ourselves, it is a time to reflect on whats happened. It is the second stage of your life. The final stage.
Photography's role in this idea prompts an important question. Why is this technique not used more? And I don't mean in the way Martin Parr might get someone to hold up a fish in a fish market but the honest family portrait is an undervalued tool in the palette of photographs we can choose to take. It is a real moment that has staged qualities. It does not have a higher importance to other people, but used in the right way it could produce an incredible heart in the vessel of a project.
It is the picture that could make the series.