When I was in University a friend of mine did a photojournalism class as part of her degree.
I was doing a different degree, but could pick some her classes as electives.
I can’t remember exactly why I didn’t take this photojournalism class, but I loved hearing about all her assignments.
One of them I still remember to this day, was to go out and find a subject to photograph on black and white film and then interview them for a Story.
I remember her saying how she had no idea who she was going to approach.
I was waitressing at my dad’s Chinese restaurant at the time, and I remember walking into the kitchen one afternoon, as dad was cooking something for a customer.
I watched and waited as the fire flamed up from underneath from the gas burners, and the food flew into the air as he deftly twisted the wok.
And my heart and brain immediately went “click”.
With my friend’s assignment fresh in my mind, I couldn’t help but notice what was happening right in front of me.
I saw and knew that if I had a camera with me, it would have made for an amazing photograph.
And I would have had my story.
I would have nailed that assignment.
I was completely inspired.
And to this day, that image haunts me.
Because I had no camera on me that afternoon.
All I have is the memory.
And it can’t translate.
I can’t show and share it with you.
Dad no longer owns his restaurant. We don’t sit down and talk about his life and how he got to where he is. Sure, I know the broad strokes of his life, but not the in-depth story. What drew him to cook. Why he chose to own his own business. The entrepreneurial journey he must have had while having a family while owning a stock standard typical “Australian Chinese Restaurant.”
When my daughters ask me what grandpa did and what my life was like as a child, I won’t be able to take out that photograph and say, this is what we used to do.
I won’t be able to take out this image and tell this story to my children in a way that will do it justice, the way it felt to me when I lived that moment in that kitchen all those years ago.
Instead they will need to rely on my faulty memory, and stories twisted by time, and simply imagine what life was like.
All I’ve got are words.
Until one day it will just be a distant memory.
Do you have moments of your life or your children’s lives that haunt you? That in that exact moment in time, you think to yourself, gosh what would I give to have someone document this for me?!
I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!