A few weeks ago, I was working on something for my alumni and list members, and I e-mailed my family to see if they had any photos from my childhood already scanned that they could send me. My sister e-mailed a couple, and then a few days later, she followed up with a whole bunch more that she had found.
I haven't looked at any of these photos since the last time I was back in the UK. Sadly, that was several years ago - before I became a mom, before I became a professional photographer, and before I started teaching The Photosanity Workshop.
Let me say it again - wow!
I talk a lot in The Photosanity Workshop about the importance of documenting your child's life so you and they have a greater way of remembering their childhood and something to look back at thirty, forty, fifty years from now... but actually experiencing it from the perspective of the now-grown child who was photographed all those years ago was a whole new level of validation.
Looking at these photos brought back memories, if not of the moments these photos capture as I was quite young in this particular set, but of having these photos to look at throughout my childhood. I remember sitting with my sister, flipping through all those albums, reminiscing about them and asking my parents questions about them.
I remember how confidence boosting it was to have a sense of childhood history, family stories and legends, roots and belonging.
Even as children of immigrants, my parents built us a home - photos were part of that, as they told our story back to us.
When I was eighteen, I did what my parents had done many years before which was to pack a suitcase and move continents, this time to the US, supposedly only for a year, only to settle here, never returning to the UK to live.
At age eighteen, I didn't think about bringing an album of childhood photos, but I did put together two albums with photos from my high school years to take with me. In fact, I remember I was still finishing them up pretty much as we were leaving for the airport, if memory serves me correctly!
I'm so glad I have those albums. Those were the first years when I had my own camera, and if I hadn't put them together then, it would never have happened.
But having access to these childhood photos over the years here and during some of the more difficult periods would have given me a lot of comfort.
Or maybe it's only now as a mom myself that it is particularly meaningful to see photos of my sister and I at an age that Liam and Jack soon will be.
The critical perspective to have on photographing your own kids is the role these photos can have in their lives - today, tomorrow, over the years, and yes, thirty, forty, fifty years from now.
We all want albums for our kids to look at when they're grown.
But it's important to have albums for them to look at now as well.
Some parents are great at this, while others struggle. I admit this is the weakest area in my own photosanity at the moment.
But I do love it when Liam visits his grandma and sits on her lap with her ipad and they look at recent photos of him and now Jack together. And I love seeing him look at the albums we do have of him (ironically, many of them were made by my mother!)
I AM going to catch up with my albums this year.
And each boy will get an album from their childhood to take with them to college, even if they don't particularly care about it at that point.
One day they will.