It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. -Johann Schiller
My father was a minister, as was my grandfather and great-grandfather. I grew up in the church. Literally, I learned how to ride my bike in the church parking lot of the Church of Christ in Kansas City, Missouri. I remember being afraid to turn the handlebar because I didn’t want to fall. After scraping my knuckles on the brick wall of the church, my father patched me up and told me that skin grows back.
Being a wedding photographer, I’m never far from the church. Perhaps I’ve strayed from the lineage of ministers in my family, but I’d like to think my art has as much of an impact in people’s lives. Photographs and the memories we carry in them connect us to the people in our lives, both present and past.
This is a photograph of my great grandmother, taken by my cousin. I have such fond memories of this woman. It’s funny how you connect with certain people in your family. The original negative is long gone and that’s a shame. This moment embodies a lifetime of memories and love.
My father stepped down from active ministry in the 80’s and took up another passion as a jeweler. The years have lead him from a chain of three stores to a smaller store in Richmond, Missouri. His custom designed jewelry pieces are works of art. I’ve never seen anything like them. He always says jewelry is meant to be enjoyed. It’s a touchstone, much like a photograph that can connect you to someone special in your life.
My great grandmother has long passed away and my father had her wedding band fashioned into a heart. He wears this as a necklace. It reminds him of my great grandmother every day. Someone who was very special to him.
I decided that I would commission my father to make a cross necklace for me that he and I would design together. After months of emailing designs back and forth the process was set in motion. Nearly a year later, it was ready. Creating jewelry for family does not pay the bills, so patience was required and that was something I was willing to do for this unique piece.
Here is the finished piece of jewelry fashioned by hand out of white gold.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I don’t wear a lot of jewelry. My wedding band and a stainless steel ring that my wife gave me on an anniversary that’s inscribed with a Hebrew phrase, which roughly translated says “love your lover as yourself”. This commissioned piece of jewelry will forever connect me to my father. Although I am not Catholic, I am spiritual and this cross represents a faith I share with my father. When it was finished, I asked him to bless it. He placed one hand on my chest and raised his other hand to God and blessed that cross. A memory with my father that I will never forget.
To me, this is why my art is so important. It’s why I have chosen to photograph people. Connecting people with their past, with their loved ones and helping them remember their lives is the essence of what I do. What items do you carry with you that remind you of loved ones? What images do you have in your life that you will treasure forever? The heart matters and the heart remembers.