I’ve been embarking on a new project: photographing my home. Throughout my life, I’ve lived in 11 homes (or apartments, yay college!) As a military family, this number will only continue to grow. I’ll never have that nostalgic feeling of visiting home and sleeping in my childhood bedroom. I’ll never have a wall in my home with pencil marks measuring the growth of my children. I won’t have the opportunity to take the same first-day-of-school photos in the same spot every year for the duration of my kids’ school years. Our “home” is literally where the heart is because our physical location will always only be temporary.
When you reach the double digits for homes lived in, you start forgetting things. I remember playing in the woods behind the home I grew up in, the octagon-shaped window of my bedroom, boldly painted teal, the hard wood floors.. but I don’t remember the details of the kitchen counters, the curtains that would surely be laughably out of date by today’s standards, the pattern ofmy parent’s bedspread. I thought I had cemented a relatively vivid memory of the first home my husband and I moved into until a Facebook memory reminded me how we’d painted our first born’s nursery turquoise and assembled his crib ever so meticulously (because we didn’t realize he’d be sleeping in our room for the next four years); I’m sad to admit that I’d completely forgotten about his room, that color that I adored, the white dresser that doubled as a changing table. It was a series of photographs that had reminded me, photographs I’d forgotten had ever been taken.
I was on to something. In the moment, I just wanted to show far away family and friends his sweet little abode. But looking back, I wish I’d done the same for all of the details of our home. One day my kids are going to ask about where they were born, and while I can explain geographically, I’ll never truly be able to capture for them the first homes they slept in, spent their first years in.
This all ties into the appeal of documentary photography; as much as I love capturing the handsome details of my boys’ faces, the polished portraits, the selfies, even the hundreds of iPhone breastfeeding images stored away away on my icloud, it’s become important to me to document the environment as well. I will often incorporate pieces of our home within my images.
But sometimes that still isn’t enough. Our most recent move took place six months ago and I’m already forgetting details of our previous home, a small duplex with tiny rooms and a shared family bathroom, oy! We planted our first garden living in this home; I repainted several pieces of furniture, we had quite a bit of framed art on the walls, my husband built a hanging plant shelf that was probably my favorite feature within the entire house. But I never took the time to really photograph these things.
Oh how I would love to have an album of beautiful, aesthetically pleasing, high quality images of these homes to look back on! The whole idea of photographing my home in this way is in stark contrast to my commitment of documenting the mess that is every day living; however, I find myself craving beautiful imagery of our home(s) that match the beautiful memories I have collected. Sometimes, even just for a tiny moment, you have to omit the messy reality that truly completes our Home in an effort to reveal the thought and intent I have spent so much time putting into the details of our house.