In Inspiration, Memory-keeping, Portraiture
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One of my favorite podcasts these days is We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle, Abby Wambach, ad Amanda Doyle. Their May 4th episode, Why Good Photos Make Us Feel Bad, resonated with me. They talk about the horror of school photos, the anxiety of posing for family photos, and the urge to document only happy, staged moments rather than showing those moments just as they are.

It got me looking back in old family photo albums for unposed moments, those special sparks that bring photos alive, rather than making everything look stiff and flat. Here’s what I found:

This is my great Uncle Jack in the early 1900s, obviously posing.
But more compelling is the shot of his mother, blurred, attacking him out of the blue and knocking his book right out of his hands!
This is my Uncle Jack a few years later, talking earnestly with his parents before heading off to fight in World War I.
The deeply thoughtful look on his face would not have been captured in a posed portrait.
This is my grandfather Charles, spontaneously showing off at a college sporting event.
A posed photo would not have captured this exuberance.
This image of my Aunt Esther and Uncle Dana walking in the garden evokes those magic moments of childhood that a posed photo could not.
Before my parents’ wedding, my Aunt Nan washes her hair in the pantry sink. This unposed photo helps tell the story of the day.
During my parents’ wedding, my Great Aunt enjoys another glass of rum punch.
After a wedding party sing-along, my Mother gets a quiet moment alone.
A dear friend and her unhappy baby.
Uh oh. My cousin Dana was a little too young for smoking…
My sister giving Grandpa’s nose a tweak.
My twin sisters, not ready to pose sweetly, in a ghostly double exposure.
My sisters enjoy playing Ring-Around-the-Rosie with our grandparents.
Sunning, not posing….and yes, that’s me.
My sister Sara polishing off the May wine while Dorothy sits innocently by.
My Mom laughing with a family friend.
And finally, my long-suffering Uncle and Father trying in vain to get their children to pose for a nice Easter photo.

So next time you’re with family or friends, no posing allowed. Just be yourself, and when you look back, the memories will shine through.

See you soon. –lucy


  1. una serie di splendidi scatti “di famiglia”, il fascino di questi scatti spontanei, non elaborati, è grandissimo

  2. I love this so much, and it’s so very special that you have these delightful photographs of your family. Thanks for sharing them with us.

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