I was ten years old...
Like any boy that age, the future interested me much more then the past. Until one day, I found a time machine.
I was playing hockey in my basement when the puck went into a distant corner and, in my haste to retrieve it, I ripped open a cardboard box with the blade of my hockey stick, spilling the contents onto the floor. I wasn’t interested in what was in the box at first, more concerned with what excuse I was going to have to come up with to get out of trouble for damaging the box. As I looked closer, however, I saw that there a was a pile of photos pouring out of the box. On top was a black and white picture of a young man and woman holding hands, looking as content as two people could be. The woman was strangely familiar to me, as if I’d seen her a hundred times but had never actually met her. On the back, written in pencil, were two names: “Mac and Kay.” Kay was my grandmother, my wonderful Grandy. Mac was my grandfather who had passed before I was born, who I had never met. Until now. To see him like this - real and alive, not a story, not an idea, a person with his own life and love - was almost overwhelming. Looking at these photos, with these people I knew and yet didn’t, it was as if I was stepping into the past to shake hands with them.
There were more photos in the pile. My grandfather as a baby, being pulled in a horse drawn cart. My mother holding her baby sister’s hand as they walked past 50s style cars I never truly realized were real. My father, serving on a Navy supply ship in Vietnam. All these things I knew existed, but that had never truly felt real until I saw them. I saw my family in a whole new light. I saw the human experience in a new light. I returned to this time machine almost every day, taking a new journey, meeting and re-meeting my family from years in the past, until one day, I came downstairs to find the box had been re-sealed. The time machine was shut down, and the images contained within went into my memory, doing what memories do - fading, hiding, but never quite leaving. Eventually I grew up and the need for a job brought me to a photography studio in Chicago. My first week there, looking though a portfolio, I came across the image of a young couple holding hands. For a moment, I would’ve sworn they were my grandparents. The memories, and the humanity they evoked, all came rushing back in. Since then, I’ve been very aware of the seeds that were planted in that basement, and how they made me aware of the power photography truly holds. Since then, I’ve wanted to do more then take a good picture. I want to make time machines.