cu·ri·os·i·ty | noun
desire to know, interest leading to inquiry
Family Journeys was born out of curiosity to explore the meaning of family, of togetherness, as well as of shared time and space. Each exploration to date has fueled a desire to create a visual record. A record that ideally holds interest to my own family but can also stimulate thoughts about life and love more universally. A document that elicits memories and reminds us of the joy of togetherness and sharing time and space with people close and apart.
fam·i·ly | noun
the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children; a group of people feeling emotionally strongly connected — companionship, fellowship
Accra, Ghana. Berlin, Germany. Hamden, CT, U.S.A. I've always been away from my family. Always come back and never stayed out of contact, thanks to 21st-century technology.
When my move to Prague started knocking at the door, however, the permanency of my adventures reached new heights. Though I've been away farther, the realization of changing times and finality of time and life itself crept into my thoughts.
Maybe it was the sorting of old family pictures that started it all.
We've always been a snap-happy family. The thousands of negatives and prints in my parents' basement prove as much. Family pictures dating back to the 1970s and some even documenting various branches of the family predating mine. All chaotically sorted into envelopes — one roll at a time.
They include happy memories of places once familiar, and how earlier versions of us enjoyed sharing those places together as a family.
to·geth·er·ness | noun
a state or feeling of closeness and happiness among people who are together as friends, family members, etc.; the pleasant feeling of being united with other people in friendship and understanding
Pictures are time capsules. They allow children glimpses into their lost childhoods. They show children their parents as they've never met them. They offer all of us a way to remember and be remembered. History can come back to life because someone bothered to record it.
My family's snap-happiness ended at some point in the early 2000s. We kids grew up, the vacations stopped. The sharing of time and space as a family changed forever. At home, in thoughts and by virtual assistance, less prominent.
My own move to Prague awakened the urge in me to preserve those old memories, waiting to be shared anew from the confinements of those envelopes collecting dust in the basement. But also the urge to take over the mantle of the chronicler of the new family life.
I'm fortunate to have been allowed to be present for five chapters of this new family life. And it's this small, little word — togetherness — that my thoughts return to often in my work on this project.
time | noun
the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues — duration; the point or period when something occurs — occasion; an appointed, fixed, or customary moment or hour for something to happen, begin, or end; an opportune or suitable momen; the present time
I cherish every moment of this project, for it allows me time with my parents. They've kindly invited me into their new-found privacy as a couple. That's nothing I take for granted, and I'm hugely grateful for the chance to go where they go; observing, thinking, learning, and photographing along the way.
Family Journeys at its core really is a record of time and space in a couple's life. Being together, exploring places new and old, enjoying the shared experience of having time for one another, a place, and life.
Traveling. Another theme present in my explorations. Each and every chapter thus far has brought my thoughts back to previous family travels to the same or similar regions.
Being away from home, moving around, taking in foreign surroundings in an attempt to make them familiar. Being on the road, mobile, and away allows time to think about home, too.
space | noun
a limited extent in one, two, or three dimensions — distance, area, volume; the distance from other people or things that a person needs in order to remain comfortable
Space. Life at home. Two themes that have earned a new actuality with the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Grounded at home. There is no excitement because of a new place. It's the good, old home life. In a way, it's been a blessing in dire disguise.
The pictures I've made since getting stuck here, the observations I've been allowed to make, the thoughts that have kept my mind busy, are all special and will be what remains of this pandemic for our family when life returns to normal.
In times like these, it's the little stories between people — family or stranger — that count the most. Therefore, I'm glad to be stuck right where I am, for some important pictures are happening right now.
train·ing | noun
the act, process, or method of one that trains; the skill, knowledge, or experience acquired by one that trains; working on one's abilities, trying to become better at doing something — practice
Lastly, Family Journeys is a training ground — in the best tradition of personal projects. Free from assignment parameters, looming deadlines, daily journalism stress and hectic. Freedom to observe, think, shoot with intent. Freedom to fail. Freedom to experiment and enjoy photography in its purest form.
Family Journeys is a record of my family, a visual reminder that values the bonds of belonging together and sharing not only time but also space together.
It's a small story for the world, yet it's a story that is dear and near to me, a story I gladly pursue as long as I have permission to be there. Because, just as with journalism, it's the small stories that I believe in the most.
Photographs & Writing © Florian Schoppmeier. Site design © 2010-2022 Neon Sky Creative Media