Monday, June 22, 2009


I walk down the main drag of the town I grew up in with my two kids. I open the door to the only remaining photography store in the area. There at the counter is the guy I knew from another store...he sold me film when I lived here and I had a job close by...aged 16-19. The guy was friendly to this stranger's questions, just like he always was kind in the past:

Hey....I know you. You used to work at Berns Camera, correct?

That's right. old are you? I always thought you were so much older than me.

I'm 46. you worked there when you were like 20?

Yeah, I started there when I was 19. I moved over here a year before they closed.

Wow, great to see you again.

So it is my birthday, I'm in my home town. I'm showing my kids the town that made such an impression on me when I was growing up. I show them every year, take them to the same places, walk them down the same streets. I try but I can never really explain the role this town plays in my life and my photography. My first influential teacher was there and the town was my first real subject matter. For me, it seems like photography as I know it was invented in Schenectady, N.Y.
Even now, trying to write it at the keyboard, I can't come up with the right words.


Anonymous said...

I recognize the outlines of your intentions when it comes to showing your kids your past. Parents develop this need to pass on their history. You want them to acknowledge, in some tiny way, that you had a past and that was different than theirs, maybe even wonderful--although at the time it actually wasn't. You want them to be interested in your story. Kids seldom are interested until the story teller has gone. Then they return and attempt to remember what you told them. At that point your intentions will be realized.

Timothy Archibald said...

That sounds wise, thanks for the input.

I think in my case, I want to show them these bleak places with a worn out history to them to maybe teach them to see that this stuff can carry some emotional weight for me. Quirky places and things from their hometown can and will carry that punch for them as well, and I want them to be open to that.

Anonymous said...

In my own case it was the railroad cars that served the vacated industrial landscape of my home town. My kids will never know the joys of running after a slow moving freight train and climbiNg aboard the caboose. Nor would i wish that upon them. Such are the inconsistancies we live with.