My grandfather, Bob White, was a professional photographer. So, I like to think that I was born with the shutterbug gene. Unfortunately I was very young when he passed away so I didn’t get a chance to learn directly from him, but photography was always accessible and encouraged in my family.

My grandfather first opened a photo studio in his hometown of Pittsburg. Then, when he served in World War 2, he worked as a photographer. He was stationed in Italy and in Northern Africa. As part of his assignment, he would fly above various territories and take aerial photographs that were used to plan missions. I remember seeing these large ariel photographs of the pyramids in Egypt that he took on those flights. While he was stationed in Washington DC, he would climb to the top of the Washington Monument during mandatory black-outs and photograph the city in the dark, in order to determine where light was visible in the city.

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My grandfather with his fellow photographer service men. I now have that camera that he’s wearing around this neck!!

When the war was over, he and my grandmother moved to Long Island and he opened a photo studio in Bellerose, where he photographed weddings, families, and took portraits. He said that he always appreciated photographing Italian weddings because the bride carried a small purse that she used to collect money. The bride and groom used that cash to pay the wedding vendors so he knew he would come home from the wedding with cash in hand!

Since the film he used was black and white, he would often hand color his prints. I learned this technique in my college photography course, and it’s a true art form (one that I never mastered!)

Marcy Browe's grandfather's portrait, san diego portrait photographer

Here’s an example of a photo that he hand colored in 1956. My mom, Kathy and her sister, Mary

As a little girl I remember going into the dark room that he set up in the basement of his home, and being fascinated with all of the strange and intriguing pieces of equipment that went into making photographs.

I have many of his cameras from the 1940s through the 1970s and I learned the art of film photography using his old Yashica.MarcyBrowe_cameracollection_websize

Marcy Browe self portrait, San Diego portrait photographer

I posed with his old Polaroid for a retro selfie:

Marcy Browe's grandfather's portrait

Ballerina photographed by my grandfather

I remember from my high school and college photography courses how tricky it was to take a great photo on film and develop it correctly. I loved the process of working in the dark room, using the glow of the film-safe red light to work by. Watching as my prints would “magically” appear on the photo paper in the developing trays.

Mixing the darkroom chemicals — first the developer, then the stop bath, and then the fixer — and getting the water to the exact temperature needed for developing prints was science and art working perfectly together. I loved the developing process just as much as I loved taking the photos.   

Today, of course, pretty much everyone uses digital cameras and there is powerful software for post-processing instead of the dark room. But the concept of creating the perfect photo still excites me.

My family is so fortunate that we had our very own photographer to capture all of those special moments. These photos have been passed down to the members of my family and we cherish them!

Marcy Browe's grandfather's portrait

portrait of my Nana with my aunt Mary and my mom Kathy

Today, we’re a photo crazy society — snapping and sharing pictures without even thinking twice.

But how often do we print those pictures or put them in an album to preserve them for our future generations? This is an incredibly important part of creating family memories! I wrote a blog post all about the best ways to print and preserve your cherished photos.

Every time I walk into my office and I look at the cameras my grandfather used throughout his career, I always give a little thanks to him for passing down the love of photography to me.

I especially love that I can give the gift of precious memories to the families that I photograph.

If you’d like to talk to me about capturing your family memories, please reach out, I’d love to work with you!