Ti Amo Papa

Dad, Rome, Italy, 1967

Dad, Rome, Italy, 1967

My dad loved many things: family, medicine, good food, a classic whiskey sour, barbecuing, travel…and taking photos.

I have boxes and boxes of slides and thousands of photographs that dad took throughout his 70-year marriage to my mom.

HIs camera equipment went with him almost as much as his stethoscope. Light meters, cameras, flash attachments almost wore a ring around his neck…a small price to pay for his love of capturing special moments on film. Thanks to dad, we have black and white and later color memories of family holidays, celebrations, vacations, trips to the ocean, summers visiting his mom on her Iowa farm. He created a kaleidoscope of our life together.

Over the last four years since he died, I sort though about a 100 slides at a sitting, keeping the best ones and tossing ones that don’t have much meaning for me. But every slide is a window into what my dad saw and what he felt was special enough to capture on film.

They are a brain trust of memories and it’s fun reliving our trips and the times when my brothers and I were kids growing up in Baltimore, St. Louis, Sherwood Forest, Chicago, Galveston and eventually California.

I see through these photos how much my dad loved his life. I’m grateful to have this special view into our past.

When I was 9 years old, he gave me my first camera — a Brownie Hawkeye. I was excited that I could begin taking snapshots too. Rebel, our Boxer dog, was a frequent subject of mine and was quite patient with the clothes and other items I used as props on her.

Brownie Hawkeye

Brownie Hawkeye

Since that time, I’ve never been without a camera. Although I have no formal training, I enjoy photographing everyday things and events and people in my life. I have thousands of photos of my own but, in the last few years, I store most of them on iPhoto.

And so dad, on this Father’s Day, I thank you not only for all the things you taught me, but also for showing me the wonders of photography.

15 thoughts on “Ti Amo Papa

  1. What a great photo of your dad, and now I see where you got your skill with a camera. My grandmother had an old Kodak box camera that she used to capture our life on the farm, and she bequeathed it to me after her death. I treasure it, although I don’t think I can even get film for it any more. I got a Brownie Hawkeye too when I was a kid, and I loved that camera so much. It’s draining to go through old photos because the journey always stirs up so many memories, but I value those memories as much as you do. Thanks for a thought-provoking post and a glimpse into your family history. Your dad looks like someone I would have loved to know.

  2. I also had a dad who loved photography. He developed his photos,taken with his Leica, in his dental laboratory and taught me to develop my own taken with a Brownie Hawkeye like the one pictured. I have many of dad’s and my slides as well. Eventually I graduated to Canon and toted multiple lenses everywhere. Nowadays it’s usually my trusty iPhone which records memories.

  3. Susan;
    Thanks for sharing those wonderful memories! He really came alive for me in those few paragraphs. Take care. Marc

  4. Oh, oh. This did conjure up those old memories. I never had a Brownie camera, I had one of those old Kodaks…I still have it. I have seen them on sale at antique stores…not for very much but it is a reminder of how important that camera was to me. Mostly, it was important because I was doing what my dad did…taking pics. He was into it…he even had his own little developing (dark) room…it was probably the chemist in him that got him started down that path. And, yes, my sis and I went through his metal trays of slides. Tray after tray. OMG. Each of us kept the ones that we wanted. Loved the picture of your dad with all of those cameras around his neck! I didn’t know that your dad was a doctor. I guess that is why you went into the medical field. Truly loved this article! Such a great tribute to your dad!!!

  5. Loved your Dad!!! He was one of a kind and such an interesting man!! He was a great story teller and had lots of memorable adventures in his life!

  6. What a lovely memory, Susan! Your father was one of a generation captured by the immediacy and beauty of the photograph.

    Last September, I had the opportunity and honor of visiting Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire, England, where the first negative was produced by William Henry Fox Talbot. It was a momentous event–from that moment on, photographs could be copied.

    Thank you for writing about your dad and his love of photography-my father loved photography as well and used us many times as subjects. Even though our parents have been gone for many years, it is a special feeling to have those images to pass on to future generations.

  7. Beautiful tribute to your father! I also had a Brownie camera! My Dad also took lots of movies and stills. My Mom made albums of all of the photos, so my childhood was also well documented. Thanks for a beautiful piece Susan!

  8. Great to learn this interesting bit of information about your dad, and the wonderful by product of having family history documented in photos.

  9. Susan, that is a touching story about your dad. It brings back memories of my father who also left some memorable photos and slides and was married almost 70 years to my mom!
    Photos can be such a great visual history such as the ones your dad took.

  10. I wish my family had captured more memories, you are so very lucky to have that treasure trove of slides and negatives. A few years back I transferred all of my parents photos onto the computer, a time consuming endeavor but well worth it to preserve them digitally. Unfortunately my Mom was not the most traditional photographer… her unique style of framing made for a lot of headless subjects. 🙂

  11. Wonderful tribute and story about your dad! I enjoyed reading it and always love to hear of another fan of photography. Sometimes, I really do miss the old days of film and slides.

  12. Loved this post about your dad. As I see from the comments it conjured lots of memories for many of us. My dad also took photos and kept a darkroom in the attic with special a red lightbulb, the color of which intrigued me as a kid. Lucky for us they left behind so many memorable snapshots for us to treasure.

  13. I always thought of Dr. James as my “other” dad. And you are right…he wore his camera around his neck as much as his stethoscope. He would love this story as I did. Would love to see some of his slides. So many great memories!! Thanks for sharing this, Susan!

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