Thicker Than Water

I became the unofficial family paparazzo five years ago, over Thanksgiving weekend. I’d just purchased my first medium-format film camera, a boxy twin-lens reflex manufactured in the late ’60s, and had become unreasonably enamored of its numerous quirks. After stuffing ourselves with turkey and pumpkin pie, I accosted various family members with it, and the resulting photos were my favorite images of the year.

I was hooked.

Each year thereafter, I continued to harass my brother and cousins, prodding them to pose for me in the hotel rooms we piled into every Thanksgiving, over the breakfast table at my grandparents’ house, and at every other celebratory occasion that brought us together. They became my muses.

When we visited Oregon in June, my brother and almost all of my cousins—by now, all located on the West Coast—descended on Portland for a reunion weekend. We found ourselves mired in a blistering heat wave; I insisted on taking their photos anyway.

All too often, I hesitate to pick up my camera when I’m busy having fun (or when everyone else is busy having fun). I don’t want to be disruptive, or ruin the simple pleasure of living inside a moment.

But without exception, I never regret photographing my family. As the years pass, and the images pile up, I go back to them again and again and count my blessings for all the people I call my own.

Camera: Mamiya 6
Film: Kodak Portra 400