All of My Father's Stories are True: A Tale of Fatherhood, Fishing, and Finding the Why
On the day I was born, my father held me in his arms, smiled, and said, "she can still go fishing." It is because of him that I carry a pocket knife, that I relish in being outdoors, and recognize the magic in artful storytelling. These are the things he imprinted on me, things he learned by watching his own father, who learned from his father before him.
When Debra called to schedule her family photos in Red River, she mentioned that her family wanted to be photographed in a special place, a pond they had visited for many years. It wasn't until later that I learned why.
In the week leading up to our session, Debra called and explained that her husband had recently passed away. This would be her family's first trip back to Red River without him. An avid fisherman, the pond where they wanted to shoot was his favorite place in the whole world, a spot he'd fished for decades with his children and later his grandchildren. In memory of him, they brought along his hat, fishing pole, and tackle box.
We began by photographing the group as a whole, and then broke off into individual families as I always do. As each group would finish, they pulled out their own poles and took turns wearing the hat. Although I had ventured away from the water by this point, I could periodically hear their excitement as the fish began to bite. One after another, they started pulling fish from the water. I wrapped up and ran back to the pond because I couldn't believe how quickly it was happening. Our time was coming to an end, but I just couldn't put my camera down. Between the light and the hat and the luck they were having, it was pure magic.
Before we left that day, Debra had one more request. She wanted a photo of their family at the Riverside Lodge, where they stayed every year during their Red River vacation. Everyone changed into shirts they'd had made for the occasion, the backs of which displayed a quotation from her late husband. Debra's oldest son suggested we assemble by the carriage, reflecting that his father kept a childhood photo of he and his siblings in the carriage in his office at home. He said "The Riverside is a big part of our Red River memories."
I may never have had the pleasure of meeting Lee Wood, but I certainly got a glimpse of the legacy he left within his family. At the end of our session, they graciously thanked me for spending the time I did with them. As I drove home rejuvenated, I thought about my Father and my Grandpa, what led me to this place, and what leads me forward in life. Nights like these are a wonderful reminder of why I chose the path that I did. These are the stories I will tell to my child, my big fish if you will.
Happy Father's Day!