I first visited the Gore family farm back in 2010. They had had one of the best crops they’d ever seen, and we took some photos of it and their family to remember it. It was also my dear friend Mindy’s birthday, and we spent the day celebrating as I listened to her family tell stories new and old. They’re a bunch that LOVES to goof around and laugh. My kind of people.
Mindy often would tell me stories about growing up out “in the country,” as we like to call it. She had shown me pictures of herself as a little girl, playing with snakes and getting a little dirt on her feet. I loved getting to see it all unfold that day, and see bits and pieces of her childhood, and meet her family. There’s something so valuable about families living close and working together, day in and out, and building a life of memories together. I feel like it’s becoming more and more rare in our culture. Mindy’s father, her uncle, and her grandfather have lived just down the road from each other their entire lives. The only thing that separates them are the cotton fields they farm together, and that’s amazing to me.
As you know, over the last year, I’ve fallen in love with “lifestyle” sessions. There’s just something about being able to photograph people in the places they truly spend their time, where they feel at home, and connected. Where memories are made, babies are brought home, and meals are shared. No fuss or fancy outfits, just the people!
I recently wrote a post about loving and appreciating where your life is right now. Of course no one has a perfect life, and most people’s lives are far from it… and there’s definitely rejoicing and lamenting over a lifetime… I’m talking about something totally different here! I want people of all ages and situations to have memories well documented to look back on. I am always thinking to myself that people are typically just “waiting” to have their pictures taken. Waiting to get engaged, waiting to be pregnant, waiting to have children. Why not capture where you are right. now?
As I started to think about all the different people who get “left out” of the photo taking frenzy, I really wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to document an older couple that have grown a deep love for each other. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love young engaged couples and capturing their head over heels, hot pink love as much as the next photographer, but I wanted to photograph a a life and love grown over a lifetime together. As I thought of who might be a good fit, I wanted to revisit this place and capture a little more of what I see that is so special and unique about her grandmother and grandfather. I asked Mindy if she thought her Grandparents would be up for letting me come and photograph them on a normal day. They thought it was a little strange, but thankfully said yes, and Mindy and I headed out to visit!
When we arrived early that day, the boys were all gathered in their typical morning spot. Every day before heading out to work, they get together in this shed behind the house and eat breakfast. Every. Day. The walls are lovingly covered with old family photos, June’s paintings, and other treasures.
This is their loyal canine Rio. Also affectionately known as, “butt-butt.”
As looked around this room, I was taken back by all the special memories that decorated it. Obviously a lover of photographs, I so enjoyed seeing different parts of their lives together over the last 67 years. As I turned a circle, I saw this old piano. Mindy’s grandfather told the story of how they had once sold it, but were able to eventually get it back when that family was going to get rid of it. Carved into the wood on the front by the keys was the name “Gore,” so there was no mistaking who it once belonged to! I asked them both to play me a song, and after a little resistance, June sat down at the piano and played an old hymn.”This is the one me and Billy play together at church sometimes,” she said. Billy joined her playing his mandolin.
When they finished the song she said, “ok, now that’s enough of that. She didn’t come out here to hear us play.” Little did she know I could have sat and listened all day!
I had to take the opportunity to snap a few of these men with the tractor! Such a fun bunch.
Walking back inside, you could see these tiles laid out. One for each grandchild with their names on them. Now, some of the grandchildren have babies too!
As we came inside the house, they all went about their normal routine, taking off boots and jackets in the washroom. A habit no doubt they were trained up to do as little boys!
I walked the halls of their home, grazing over all the photos of their children. June looked at these photos of her 4 children and grinned. “They’re always your babies no matter how old they get aren’t they?” I asked. June replied, “Oh yes. Always.” In it’s own special place, sat a portrait of their son Billy Wayne, whom they lost to ALS several years ago. He is very dearly missed.
In the next room was “Grandma Junie’s special pink room.” Mindy had spoken about it several times and so I was excited to see it! It’s like stepping back in time. She talked of how no one was allowed in this room as children, unless it was a special occasion. She also told me a story of how her dad and uncle were forbidden to throw the ball in the house, but we all know boys will be boys! One day, they were throwing the ball, and broke a vase. They spent the afternoon gluing it back together, and had to face it a certain way so that their parents wouldn’t see the missing piece. Somehow, they never got caught until much later when it was discovered.
On each side of the piano, there was a portrait of each of them at age 21.
Once again, I convinced her to play a song for me!
It’s hard for me to not look back at these photos and get a little teary eyed. I love being able to see what they have worked so hard to build together in this life. I feel like it’s all you could ever want or ask for. To stick together, for SIXTY SEVEN years… through the high times, and the awful low times that no one should have to experience… always together. I’m so thankful to know you, and so thankful for your granddaughter! Thank you for this opportunity to peek into your life. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done.