No More Photographs

My father took many photographs that now help me document my family’s life. There are photographs houses, street scenes and my mother in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In Springfield, MA he took pictures of my sister, my mother, me and along with those of St. John’s Congregational Church and members.  For the first few years after we moved back to Detroit, there were photos and then, he stopped taking pictures.

Taking photographs - 1940s.
Taking photographs – 1940s.

A few months ago I noticed that my father took no more photographs of our family after we moved from 2212 Atkinson to 2254 Chicago Blvd.  Pictures taken during that time were not taken at home. We were at one of my grandparents houses, or in Idlewild. And the photographer was not my father, my mother or other family members were.  I wondered what happened during that time that made him stop.

In 1953, at the time we moved from Atkinson to the house on Chicago, there had just been a church split and my father, a minister, was involved in building a new church from the ground up, something he hadn’t done before. This involved finding a church building and raising the money to purchase it. New members had to be found and a program that would get those new members involved and feeling a part of the church, had to be developed. There were constant meetings at our house, a combination parsonage/church activity building.  And my parent’s marriage was ending.  My parents separated in 1954.  Maybe, on top of everything else, his camera broke and he couldn’t afford to replace it because he kept donating his salary back to the church.


You can see some of the photographs my father took in these earlier posts:

You can read more about the church split in this post – A Church and Two Brothers – Two Splits.

16 thoughts on “No More Photographs

  1. That’s very sad – it sounds like taking photographs got lost along the way, there were so many changes in his and the family’s lives at that time. Very sad.

  2. I wonder why he quit taking pictures. When times were bad for me and I subconsciously didn’t want to remember them, I didn’t take many pictures myself. Lucky for me, my Mom did, and made double and triple copies (that was back before digital cameras of course).

    It sounds as if your Dad did a lot in his lifetime.

    Kathy M.

  3. Oh my goodness…You are your daddy’s twin. Sad that he stopped taking photos during that time since it was something that he seemed to enjoy. It is amazing how you have such wonderful photos.

    1. Yes, I am. Once, when my sister and I were elementary school age and somewhere with father, a woman exclaimed “Three twins!”

  4. A superb photo of your father camera in hand, what a shame that he stopped taking pictures.

  5. I think he did enjoy photography but I also think that at that point in his life he was focused totally on building the church and not in documenting. Too bad because I would have liked to have some photos that were taken in that house on Chicago.

  6. I think your father had a good eye for taking photographs. You have a treasure of wonderful photographs. It is sad the pressures of life took him from his hobby.

  7. I was rather moved by this post Kristin. The sadness of it all, perhaps he felt uninspired with photography given what was happening on the domestic front. People associate photographs with happy times and perhaps he was simply not happy and did not wish to document that was the case. Equally it could simply be that he was so focused on Church matters that he had little energy for anything else.

    1. I found it sad too when I realized it. And I think that the focus on the church and the marriage coming apart could have also been cross related – one feeding the other, feeding back to the other and just getting more so on both accounts. And there just wasn’t time for photographs.

      I spent a lot of time with my father in his last years and every time I would bring up the past, he wasn’t that interested in talking about it. He was more interested in what was going on then, in that present. I started this sentence to say maybe I could have gotten him to talk about it, but probably not.

  8. That Is A Stunning Photo Of Your Father. I Think,Maybe, It Is Common To Have Such Gaps? Photography Is A Reaction As Much As An Action? He Was A Very Talented Man & He Must Have Poured His Talent Into Other Areas.

    1. He did that. He organized the heck out of that church, analyzed what was happening in Detroit and around the country and responded to it in sermons, articles, newsletters and eventually two books. Did not start sitting around doing nothing. Just thinking about it, he had so much energy.

      I also just realized he turned 41 in 1952.

  9. There’s no getting around it,
    no way he could have ever denied paternity here.
    You’re a “copy/paste”, with a skirt!!
    With all of his concerns, no wonder the camera was not the first thing on his mind.
    Pity, as these were probably times he might have wanted to remember, eventually…
    But YOU got to live them, so now, YOU got to tell us about them,
    even if there are no pics to show.

    I just find it amazing that were able to pinpoint the exact moment when it all stopped.
    Now you got to preserve whatever that’s there.
    Are you the only one passionate by all of this history,
    or are your kids/grandkids as well?!?

    1. I have a letter he wrote home when I was a baby saying, “No, she does NOT look like me!” LOL. He sure got that wrong.

      I noticed when I was doing all the streets I’ve lived on that there were no photographs taken when we lived on Chicago. Pretty noticeable with all the photographs taken every place else we lived. Without a blog, I might have never noticed.

      I’m the only one obsessed with it. Other family members find it interesting in varying degrees.

      1. And to that letter,
        I would have replied:
        “Ever looked in a mirror lately?!?…”

        Blogging does force one into deeper reflection
        about various matters.
        I know I often speak of Montreal,
        and because of blogging,
        I’ve come to know [and care for] better my hometown.

        Pity that the flame is not carried on [yet]…
        The time may come.
        That is why this must be preserved,
        the original material,
        and in digital form.
        Surely someone will come along
        and find this useful/important.

  10. How wonderful to have all those photos but what a shame that he lost the urge. Perhaps as well as money being an issue he just didn’t feel emotionally creative enough with all those other challenges in his life.

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