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Portrait of a House

How do you begin to document memories that have been built up for 42 years? A place where family got together for Christmas, and Thanksgiving. Where kids, grandkids, and even great grand kids played. How do you do that place justice with photos?
After a few hours, I realized the answer is “you simply can’t”.

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My original goal was to capture a portrait of the house as a keepsake. But I soon began to see that I was merely capturing empty rooms, with empty chairs and empty tables. Every time I visited, I used to love to look at the photos that adorned the living room walls. Now all the pictures are all gone.

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The orange paint that splashed all over the kitchen walls are now neutral white. Tiny toys and decorations that lined the windows, vanished into storage. Trinkets and keepsakes that reminded Lita and Migel of Texas are now tucked away in our memories.

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And as I explored through the kitchen, I remembered the smells of tamales, or tasty pies. A new family will soon be building memories here, so my goal was to try to get portraits of the house as it is now.

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And as wonderful as the fresh coat of paint is, and as perfect and pristine as the rented furniture is, sprinkled throughout the house.

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Nothing can replace what once was.

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The kids would wait and nap in these hallways and rooms during Christmas eve. They would tell each other stories until it was time to open presents downstairs.

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As the project came to an end, as I put back the furniture that I have moved, and reflected on the past. I thanked the house for the shelter it provided…But I began to see that it will never provide warmth. It is just an empty shell. The true soul of a place lies in the people that live in it. Houses can’t hug, they can’t smile.

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They can’t cry with you during times of loss. They can’t celebrate with you during times of joy. Wood, pillars, stucco walls, windows and cold gates is all I took photos of.

So with that I end with a parting thought. Don’t get too tied to your possessions. Home is truly where the heart may be, but we can make any place home so long as we have friends and family near. When we leave this earth, no one will remember where we lived.
Just how we lived it, and who we touched along the way.
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Thank you for the memories Miguel and Lita.
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