Remembering Those Kodak Moments…

Those one time, perfect moments captured on film of our children, oblivious of the camera or staring boldly into the lens, silent and poignant, is called a Kodak Moment in my house.

As the woman behind the lens for most of our family photos I have inside information as to what was really going on behind the scenes, were they fed up with posing, eye-rollingly impatient at being disturbed mid game, bashful at being caught in a candid moment or excited to be captured in print with a hero?

These back stories make the past come alive and are so much more than just the 2D image everyone else sees!


Taken eight years ago at Thanksgiving, we’d just seen the last of our guests off after a sumptuous dinner when in walks an old friend as we were setting up to take our Christmas photo.

The only criteria for this one was ‘black tie’.

He offered to take the individuals for us. 

Spoiler here!  We did not line up on the mantle piece!

After Ian, the film-maker and editor extraordinaire, had finished photo shopping it it turned into one of our very best family photos and was probably the last time we all showed up for a ‘group’ picture for the annual Christmas card.

End of an era…

Having recently finished sorting the photos my parents left behind in a box I arranged them in an album and transcribed any notes I found on the back of the black and white postcards onto a word document.

I picked my uncle’s brains for his valuable insight and managed to cobble together a little bit of my way-back history and had fun imagining, from odds and bobs of old family lore, the story behind the final shot I’d been left with.

There’s a photo of my paternal grandmother (on the right) and her younger sister as young women with my father as a boy.  The sisters have hats on their heads and smiles on their faces apparently enjoying a day at Hastings-by-the-sea astride their donkeys.


My father’s note on the back of the photo read,

‘Mum must have taken a lot of persuading to go on a donkey ride.’

My uncle later wrote to me,

“I don’t know what it would have taken to get my mother on a donkey, she was terrified of them!”

There’s a faded and torn photograph of my mother (Kay) when she was 4 years old, fingers in her mouth, obviously distracted by her younger brother, outside her mother’s London house in Clapham,  


on the back is written,

“Kay showing her knickers.”

When I unearthed it for one of my uncles he said,

“Kay wouldn’t have her photograph taken, she must have been tricked into looking the other way…!”

The picture is creased in several places as if it had been tucked away somewhere and forgotten.

Looking at it now I think it’s my favorite shot of my mother!

Only two other photos of her as a young girl exists, both were special occasions so I don’t suppose she had much choice but to stand still and be snapped.

Her first holy communion,


“Look at my ugly brown shoes,” she jabbed a finger at her feet, “they spoiled the dress,” she added scornfully when I showed her the picture a few years ago. 

I’d been looking at her serious face trying to find traces of me in it and instead found my eye drawn to her footwear.

“I wore ugly brown shoes with everything too,” I gently reminded her but her disinterested gaze had returned to the weeping willow outside the lounge window where we were sitting.

The other photo is a portrait taken when she was 14, the year she left school.


I love her wistful expression and how young she looks.

I have a couple of books inscribed to her on her last day of school.  I know, from one of her brothers, she was a sprinter and had hoped to be able to continue her education with a sports scholarship from the county but that wasn’t to be; she went to work in a sweet shop shortly after this image was captured and I think the look on her face tells it all.

On the other hand there are a lot of photographs of my father growing up, here he is with his younger brother, reclining on the sand in Bournemouth (a seaside town in the south of England) in his swimming costume, gazing soulfully down his very straight nose,


On the back he’d written,

‘…aren’t I glamorous.’  He was fourteen.

This picture of Vincent, Mummy and me was taken one morning on a camping holiday in Italy when I was five,


the story behind this one involves me.

Mummy would send the two of us off each morning to buy eggs for our breakfast, four in all.  I would usually carry them home in the paper bag without incident but this particular morning Vincent irritated me enough to bonk him on the head with the only ‘weapon’ I had…

When we arrived back at the tent I said,

“Vincent’s egg broke!”

Obviously this photo tells another story!  Notice Mummy’s scowl and I’m without a 3 minute egg while Vincent…well…

This lovely family portrait, taken on a beautiful wooden yacht in Galveston, is one of those 2D pictures with a 3D heart.  We are all dressed up to go out for dinner down at the wharf and look as if butter wouldn’t melt in our mouths,


and in this particular instance the photo reflects the truth…for that Kodak moment.

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