Matt Eich, Visura Magazine

WHEN YOU BOIL IT ALL DOWN, I make pictures to remember the fleeting moments and feelings that comprise our daily existence. My journey as a photographer was born from a compulsion to document life around me after watching my grandmother’s memory erased by Alzheimer’s disease. She was set adrift on an ocean of her life’s experience, the tape wound backwards, and soon in her mind, she was back where she started. Life had come full circle.

During this time, I went on a road trip with my grandfather, who loaned me his point and shoot camera. Upon my return, I came upon one photograph of a worn fence post that stood out. Despite its many flaws, this image taught me that a photograph could encapsulate a feeling and a memory. In this, I found a way to remember—breadcrumbs scattered along the way—in case I was to ever become lost, like Mamaw.

Years later, my relationship with photography grew increasingly nuanced and complex. I have a family of my own now and they accept the camera as a part of me. It is a way I express my love to them, my desire to be present and part of their lives and to remember the passing moments we share. With time comes perspective and in the years to come, I hope that these photographs will become something of an anchor in my daughter’s life. In them I trust, she will always be reminded of where she comes from and how much she is loved.

Recently, I have thought a great deal about “innocent photographs,” meaning those that are not refined by years of visual experience but are more pure and reactive; those images that are not weighed down by the burden of photographic knowledge. Not long ago, I stumbled across a tin of slides from the 1950s, made by my other grandmother, Ruby Eich. In those photographs, I found an intangible beauty that I became distinctly aware was lacking in my own pictures. As a result, I wondered: what quality do her images possess that escapes me? I still do not have an answer for this nagging question.

Though I work as a photographer, a large part of my mental focus is on the piece of my family’s visual history that I am working to create and curate throughout my life. It is all part of a larger canvas that grounds us and allows us to know who we are, where we came from and that we are loved.

The images included with this entry span from 1958, shortly before my father was born, to 2011, where my own daughter is approaching her fourth birthday.

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