Last night the Barton family gathered for dinner at Kaine’s parents as we often do whether for someone’s birthday or just because. In this case the parentals have recently arrived home from a month overseas and we were all catching up while they regailed us with holiday tales.
These family events are fairly chaotic nowadays with four boys under five to contend with. But after dinner we were all gathered in the lounge room and my mother in law played us some home movies. Recorded in the mid 70’s on reel to reel, they contained images of both of her parents. Kaine’s grandmother whom he never had the pleasure of meeting as she passed away when his mum was a teenager, and his grandfather whom we lost almost exactly a year ago.
With no sound and a grainy picture we all watched on knowing just how special these keepsakes are to her.
I turned to Kaine who was standing up behind me with a sleeping Jasper in his arms and I said quietly “this is why we do what we do”. He knodded knowingly.
You see, some day we’ll be gone but I see our family gathered together in a room just as we were last night watching back on the legacy we’ve created. I see them laughing at the fashion and hair do’s, smiling fondly as they see mum and dad in their prime and themselves as children and maybe even quietly tearing up as the images come to life.
I guess you could say we started documenting our life in video in 2006 when we got married. We invested in a JVC video camera which, by then, had shrunk from the ones you had to prop up on your shoulder like a tv news reporter to something you could hold in the palm of your hand. We filmed our wedding day and made video diaries on our honeymoon and then we edited together an epic saga and burned it to a DVD.
We did this again in 2009 and 2011 when we went overseas and then by 2014 when we went to Europe, we had started a YouTube channel and moved to daily vlogs to document our travels. We had also taken to vlogging other fun stuff in our lives (and some boring stuff too) as well as sharing our stories in writing and of course photos.
We never set out to become YouTube famous or make a name for ourselves in the blogging world. It’s always been to leave a legacy for our family and simply because we absolutely enjoy doing it.
Occasionally we have been mocked or made fun of. Comments like “you’ve always got a camera in your hand” or the sarcastic surprise when we show up to something without the camera. But we’ve also had lots of people embrace it and love being involved too.
I think somewhere along the way the art of the home movie got lost. Whether it’s because the technology was too expensive or now when it’s quite the opposite. We have a camera in our hands for so much of the day now that it’s become so mundane to send a snapchat of the kids doing something cute or posting a holiday snap on Instagram… but it’s just not the same.
So while some may not get it. I ask you to find an old photograph, or better yet, a video of a loved one who’s passed or even of you from your own childhood. That warm fuzzy feeling you get is the reason we do what we do.
And while our musings are a little scarce right now with the bustle of young family life we will continue to write, record and photograph our lives so that some day, when we no longer can, they might bring some comfort and joy to those we’ve left behind.