I have the hardest time getting good shots of my daughter these days. When she sees me coming with the camera, she either hides, makes a face, or she pastes on a fake smile that just doesn’t look like her at all.

I can relate. I have a hard time looking natural in front of a camera as well. I get all self-conscious, and end up looking awkward, or weirdly intense, or both.

My favorite photos are the ones where the subject is going about their business, so caught up in what they are doing that the photographer, whether they’re aware of her or not, is irrelevant to the moment.

Lately, I’ve been going through some old family photos, many from the mid-century and earlier. This is well past those days when every photo looked stoic because the people in them had to freeze for long periods of time, but most of these photos still have a staged formality to them.

Then I stumbled across this photo:


Doc McKinley Family


This was my mom’s family, she’s second from the left in the front. This would have been in the 50s, I believe, and probably in Palmer or Anchorage, Alaska. It looks like a celebratory night out, and everyone looks so happy together.  Such natural, genuine smiles. I wonder what the story was.

Show me your photos.

Judy Schwartz Haley


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