This post is sponsored by Artifact Uprising, “inspired by the disappearing beauty of the tangible.”
There are two large photo albums in my mom and dad’s house. They’re navy blue with gold foil along the outer edges of covers that are either totally detached from their spines or on their way there. My mom put them together in the earliest years of our lives together—no doubt tamping down the tiny sticky corners that hold down the prints in the late evenings after we were asleep. My mom wrote captions, funny ones, in her perfect handwriting; thick blue ink under snapshots of camping trips and birthday parties and halloween costumes.
As a kid, I pored over them. I memorized the order of the pages and would flip through them looking for the photos of my parents, long-haired and sun-kissed on cross-country road trips before they had kids. I’d find the photo of my sister, the oldest, grinning and dirt-smeared in the middle of a camp site; the photo of my uncle carrying a whole pig into my grandparents house for Christmas dinner; the shots of my younger sisters and I with our cousins in matching calico dresses and white tights that were bunched at the ankles and grass stained on the knees.
As I looked, photos would pop out of their corners and slide out of the pages. There was always a stack of them tucked into the back of the book, waiting for a patient moment when someone—my mom–would rehouse them. The second of these two blue albums stops when my younger sisters are still babies. Stacks of drug-store-processed prints are in boxes, sorted according to date, still waiting for their chance to shine in an album.
Fast-forward to thinking about documenting my own new family, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it causes me mild heart palpitations. The sheer numbers of photographs that James and I have snapped is mind-boggling by comparison to my own parents’ archive. Surely, in the first three years of Faye’s life, we’ve already eclipsed the entire number of photos that exist of me from the whole of my childhood.
When Artifact Uprising contacted me about working on a collaboration for Father’s Day, I admit that my palms got a little sweaty. Where would I start? From an archive so improbably large, I wondered, what would prove to be the most representative? The most treasured? James made me an album of Faye’s first six months, but months and now years have intervened since then. We’re behind, already.
The answer, of course, was just to start somewhere. Though the album was ostensibly a gift for Father’s Day, I recruited James to help me make a hardcover photo book to catalog our six weeks in France last summer. I wanted to include photos that he’d snapped and I needed encouragement to wade through the virtual piles. More importantly, I wanted the work of this family storytelling to be something that we did together.
So I brought home a slice of chocolate cake from the bakery, poured two glasses of wine, and together we pieced together an album from our magical weeks in France in the spring that Faye turned two. With the Artifact Uprising mantra, “off your device, into your life” ringing in our ears, we chose our favorite photos and fit them onto virtual pages that would get printed and bound and arrive in hardcopy just a few days later.
The result is a beautiful pale grey, clothbound book, filled with memories of last summer. It fits perfectly on the shelf next to the album James made for me after Faye was born and the album of our wedding photos. Of course, in the few days that we’ve had it in our home, it’s hardly been on the shelf at all. Faye has already looked through it a dozen times, thumbing the pages, asking questions, doing the work of memory building, one beautifully printed image at a time.
This post is sponsored by Artifact Uprising, “inspired by the disappearing beauty of the tangible.” All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Reading My Tea Leaves.