Juliana’s Perspective I remember pacing back-and-forth in my bedroom. “She’s going to think I’m crazy. I am crazy. Why am I doing this again? Ok stop thinking just press the freakin’ call button. O crap, she actually picked up.” Let’s go back a little bit; Let’s say my wedding......Read More
I remember pacing back-and-forth in my bedroom.
“She’s going to think I’m crazy. I am crazy. Why am I doing this again? Ok stop thinking just press the freakin’ call button. O crap, she actually picked up.”
Let’s go back a little bit; Let’s say my wedding day on June 29, 2013. I was getting ready at my parent’s house. All I had really wanted that morning was to have all four of my grandparents with me, and sure enough they all sat at the kitchen table–the same table my parents had eaten every meal since before I was born–my grandfathers swapping stories and my grandmothers trying to relax, but really asking my mom about every 30-seconds if she needed anything.
I remember the moment that each of them saw me as a bride for the first time. My grandmothers helped place the heirloom jewelry, passed down from their own lives, onto my wrists. My Grandpa Altmann–he couldn’t wait–he snuck his head around the corner and caught just a glimpse before he started crying–his head buried in my veil. And as for my Grandpa Bellitto, well, I’ll never forget his face as he stepped out onto the porch; His eyes lit up as he opened his arms the way he always did when I was a kid, inviting me into his big bear hug.
I was thankful for those moments then, but I’m more thankful now. My Grandpa Bellitto passed away five months ago now. It was the first time I had to go through a process I had seen friends go through as their grandparents also began to ail and slowly let go. I was one of the lucky ones having been given the privilege to grow up listening to his lawyer stories–the ones he repeated since I was a kid sitting on his lap. I was told to have all four grandparents at my own wedding was something of a miracle, and indeed it was. Yet still, I can’t help but hold back tears at the thought that my kids will never meet my grandfather, he didn’t live to give them his bear hugs and tell him his stories. At least not in-person.
Funerals have a funny way of pulling old forgotten boxes that lead to a world of undiscovered moments; Whether it be in an attic or a basement or a hidden drawer, these pieces fill the time capsule of life.
I believe my grandfather was a huge influence in my career as a photographer. He always had a camera when my dad was growing up, and he left behind hundreds of prints for us to pour over and laugh at. But he also took advantage of a revolutionary new technology: The 8mm film camera, shooting reel-to-reel films in both black-and-white and color (a huge expense at the time) starting with one of the biggest milestones in his life- marrying my grandmother.
We sat at the dinner table and my father turned off the lights and placed a giant metal machine in the middle of the table. It whirred and spat out smelly gusts of smoke. It was magic. I watched my grandmother emerge from a washed out limousine as a gust of wind blew through her veil, she laughed and picked up her dress to walk up the steps. I felt like I was right there with her–like I could reach through the walls and touch her.
That’s what this is: Something tangible, something to transport you in time. It may have originated from my story, but what I’ve come to realize is that everyone has a story. They are stories full of life and love, and to build a product that takes you here, to this place where you feel like it all makes sense–why we are here and who we have become only by the actions of those who came before us–that’s what this is about.
You have your father’s hands or your grandmother’s eyes; Your heritage lives in you. To be an Archivist is to ensure that these stories never truly die, these people are never completely lost; They live on forever in a library of legacy.
On a cold day in January, I received a text message from Juliana requesting a time where we could talk on the phone. There was something odd though, something about the tone of this message, yet I could not put my finger on it. She sounded serious, which made me nervous. When she called me a few days later though, it was Juliana who sounded nervous.
She asked me how my job search was going. I told her “honestly, not great, I’m currently trying to create one full-time job out of three, but really its still part-time.” Unexpectedly, she responds happily about my unfortunate employment situation.
“Great! I have something to talk to you about.”
Juliana then delves into a whole story about her time in Portland and the discovery she made, not only about herself, but about what her business could be and what she had been striving to create all along without realizing it. I had an inkling I knew what she meant. Her current business had almost everything she loved, but what missing one crucial thing: The past.
By photographing weddings, and a variety of life sessions, she has been able to focus on the future and wonders of people beginning their lives together. What she had been missing though was a way to allow people to remember and reflect on the time that is gone, and the people and experiences they want to remember.
As she is talking more about this desire to include the past–to help people archive the photographs they already have, and tell the stories of the people they love–the more excited I become. This is a passion we share and, knowing Juliana, she is contacting me because she knows that. She knows that I am going to share her desire to turn it into a real object–a book for people to cherish for generations to come.
I didn’t even have to think about whether or not I would accept her offer to join her on this new path–I knew I would jump on board.
Growing up, I was always the one who wanted to hear the story about how two people met, to be told about an old photograph sitting in a prominent place on a shelf, or a delicate object that no one is allowed to touch. This was reflected in the books I read as a child, such as The Little House Books. In college, I created prints and books that were abstractly based on letters and the connections between people that I was close to, and the artifacts that mean the most to people.
This project then, is a way for Juliana and I to come together and combine our interests to create a unique anthology that will be cherished for a long time. What she proposed–in that very first phone call–we now present to you: A handmade leather-bound book that holds the stories, photographs, and artifacts of your family’s history preserved for generations to come personally curated by myself and those of us at Juliana Laury Archivists.
If you are working on something you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you. -Steve Jobs