Photography is a skill. It requires knowledge of your camera, knowing how your surroundings work, subject studies, amongst other things. But, you need not know the in-and-outs of photography to take good photos. There’s a reason some of the most meaningful photos we encounter are the ones taken by family or friends. They capture emotions and moments that are significant to them, and as an extension, to us. Yeah, photography is about the technicalities, but it’s also about feelings and memories. That’s why the deeper your connection with someone, the more likely you are to take the best photos for them. It’s no surprise then, that our grandparents take some of the most beautiful and important photos in our lives.
1. Nostalgia and Love.
In this day and age, it’s not uncommon to live separately from your grandparents, even in Singapore. My grandparents live in another country, but I know of friends who only see their grandparents once a week, or even fortnightly. As such, they don’t get to meet their grandparents or extended family often. They do recount that their homes and grandparents’ homes are often decorated with multiple frames of their childhood photos, more often than not taken by their grandparents.
This isn’t just because their grandparents love them (which, of course they do), but also because my friends spent extensive amounts of time with their grandparents when they were younger, especially if they had two working parents.
That’s one of the reasons grandparents take such wonderful photos of their grandchildren. When they grow up, these nostalgic memories keep them bonded and close.
Grandparents and grandchildren naturally have a very loving and strong bond. Scientifically, it’s during our teenage years and thirties/forties that we have the largest social circles and close friends. Children are still learning to socialise, and grandparents experience a shrinking circle. This fosters a stronger bond between child and grandparent, should they be connected frequently either online or physically. Grandparents are also less focused in the parenting/discipling aspect, causing grandchildren to feel closer to them. Photographers capture what they feel and see.
Therefore, when grandparents take photos of their grandchildren, they capture the overwhelming love they feel for them, and the nostalgic days of raising their own children, as well as hopes and wishes for the future. This is just one of the reasons they’re excellent photographers.
2. Connection with Multiple Generations.
Grandparents don’t only take great photos of their grandchildren, but also of their children. It’s because grandparents have the most connections amongst the families, extending all the way down to the family tree, and even upwards, to great-grandparents. They’re the backbone of families, particularly if the family is a tightly-knit, extended family that grew up together.
Grandparents cultivate the morals and values of a family, and pass down traditions to the following generations. Grandparents also tend to be more patient and accepting at their age, which encourages the younger generation to be more open and confrontational with them. This sincere and fair communication allows grandparents to bond with their grandchildren in a way that most won’t be able too. Parents, too, get closer with grandparents as they become adults. Grandparents know they can hold parents accountable for themselves, and spend more time getting to know them as adults as opposed to worrying about them.
The culmination of improved communication and honest feelings builds up relations up and down the family tree. When grandparents take photographs, it means a lot to them because of their links and connectivity within the family, and the sentiments extrapolate to their photos. Good photos are born when they’re worthwhile and irreplaceable.
Time with grandparents is precious and cherished, regardless of whether you’re a child or a parent. As everyone grows up, moments spent together get rarer and just as much value. Everyone remains aware of this fact, but grandparents more so. Wanting to savour every moment with their family members, their photos hold great meaning and significance.
In fact, not just for family members, but they’re appreciative of their environment too. With age comes newfound wisdom and gratitude for your surroundings and environment. Places hold momentous messages, the sunrise and sunset may have special, personal connotations, a certain book may hold priceless lessons. As you grow older, you associate a growing number of places and items to certain changes and periods in your life, and the photographs of these grow just as important and memorable.
Beauty is subjective and truly does lie in the eye of the beholder. Still, undoubtedly, grandparents take some of the most beautiful pictures. They may not be perfectly aligned, or have the best lighting, but they capture some of the most important and splendid of moments. Immortalising uncountable occasions from their lives, as well as the lives of those connected to them, our grandparents are probably some of the most underrated photographers ever.