Telling your story through Portraits

Published by Angela on

Black and white wedding portrait of a couple in the doorway of a church in 1946. Why Telling your story through Portraits is an important record of our history by Vancouver contemporary portrait photographer Angela McConnell

Why telling your story through portraits is an important record of our history; and creating your family legacy.

I have been attending a lot of networking meetings recently, specifically related to women in small business and it has definitely helped me to define and narrow down what my message is when it comes to my photography.

This is what I tell people when I am asked to introduce myself and what I do…

I’m Angela, a contemporary portrait photographer. I want people to have beautiful images printed that they can pass down to future generations, the same way our grandparents and great-grandparents passed down their visual history to us.

Why do I think it is important?

I believe that we have a disconnect in our society now with the rise of digital technology. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

We are more inclined to tell stories through images on an everyday basis, but in doing so we also become reliant that these platforms will be available to us at all times.

Anyone who has seen the online response to Instagram or Facebook outages will know how it sends people into a tailspin and they feel lost without access to posting photos and status updates.

What happens if the Internet goes away one day? Unlikely, I know.

What does happen on a more frequent basis is that computers, lap tops and hard drives fail and important memories have not been backed up and are lost.
Or the stacks of CD/DVD’s that images have been burnt to are chucked in a spring clean.

For my wedding I had wedding photos printed of all sets of grandparents. These photos are framed and sit on my chest of drawers where I see them every morning.

This is a photo of my maternal grandparents Douglas and Tui Wakely at their wedding in 1946.

Black and white wedding portrait of a couple in the doorway of a church in 1946. Why Telling your story through Portraits is an important record of our history by Vancouver contemporary portrait photographer Angela McConnell

This photo is important to me not only because it is my grandparents, but that it also is representative of the enormous struggle they went through just to get to their wedding day.

My pa was in the NZ Army in World War II and was captured during the campaign in Africa. We also have photos of him in front of the pyramids in Giza where they were staged for a bit.

He ended up being shipped to Austria as a prisoner of war. We still have the telegrams that his mother and my Nana were sent to inform them that he was initially Missing in Action, and then subsequently confirmed as a Prisoner of War.

I can't even begin to imagine how to carry on day to day, knowing that your loved one is first of all missing and then wondering if they would ever make it home to you.

Coming from a smaller country, most of the men were eligible to fight and did fight, leaving a huge gap in society in general. 
My Nana was also a part of the amazing generation of women that took over the men’s jobs while they were away at war.

This photo is a reminder to me of the strength of that generation as a whole and the strength of my grandparents relationship to not only survive a traumatic separation, but also the long term ramifications for the young men that were involved in the WWII conflict.

 I also use this photo as an example of what I am talking about. Why it is so important to have images to pass onto your family.

While we may not have stories such as these today, I still believe that it is really important to record our history.

We don’t know what is around the corner, and portraits initiate conversation about everyone. Whether you have reached a significant milestone, a life goal or you just want to record an image of yourself as you are today, it’s something that should be done.

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