Why do we click?

Photographers are a varied bunch. We click at birthday parties, at beautiful sunsets, at a strange bug in the house, on vacation at exotic spots, or down the street at the local park. We click. And click. And click. We click when we don’t have words. We click when we do have words.

The reasons we click are as numerous as the number of people who have cameras. But I can tell you why I click.

Two reasons.

One reason is to document my life.

When I was in junior high school, I became fascinated with my mother’s life. I wanted to know everything about her childhood growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania. I wanted to “see” her siblings, my aunts and uncles.

My parents were professional Country and Western musicians. Their stage names were Ken Montana and Texas Lil. They traveled the countryside of America in the late 30’s through the early 50’s with some of the top names in the business.

Ken Montana and Texas Lil (taken from my mother's photo album)

Ken Montana and Texas Lil

My mother’s photo albums were filled with photos of Hank Williams, Eddie Arnold, the Carter Family, the Hoosier Hotshots, Lula Belle and Scotty, Rawhide and Tumbleweed, the Pinning Sisters; the Wilburn Brothers, Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers, the Prairie Pals and Roy Rogers, Tex Ritter, and Pat Brady to name a few. And of course there were professional and candid shots of my famous aunt, Patsy Montana.

Ken Montana and Texas Lil

Ken Montana and Texas Lil

Jim and Jane and the Vagabonds

Jim and Jane and the Vagabonds (My mother is in the center on someone's lap)

My father with Hank Williams

My father with Hank Williams after a performance

Dana Helping Hank Wms

My sister Dana helping Hank Williams pass out records after autographing them.

Gene Autry

Gene Autry with Uncle Jim and friends after a show

Patsy Montana with her daughters Beverly and Judy

Patsy Montana with her daughters Beverly and Judy

Paul, Patsy, Jane, Connie and Audrey

Patsy Montana visiting the farm in Pennsylvania. This is her husband Paul and my Aunt Jane and cousins.

But there were no pictures of my mother’s childhood, her farm or her school life—and I wanted a different experience for my family. Yes, at the age of 12 or 13 I thought I might one day be a mom and have a daughter who would wonder about my life. I wanted to document my life for her.

When the show business days were over, we moved to Kimball Valley in Ramona, California. We didn’t have a lot of money, but my mother had a camera: an old Kodak Brownie Bulls-Eye. She was always clicking the shutter, documenting our childhood. Those old family pictures are the foundation of the wonderful childhood memories we share, and the stories we keep retelling.

Kodak Brownie Bullseye

Kodak Brownie Bullseye

I was heavily influenced by my mother’s use of that camera. She inspired me, but I didn’t want to rely on her pictures for my story. I wanted to tell my own story. So in junior high, borrowing her Bulls-Eye, I began my own clicking. I took her camera to school events, pasting my black and white 1 5/8-inch square photos into scrapbooks.

By high school, I’d saved enough babysitting money to buy my own camera, a Kodak Brownie Starmeter. I documented my high school years with square 3 ½-inch photos of football games, dances, church activities, and sleepovers. I would buy the Kodak Verichrome Pan Film  (VP 127) for black and white or the Kodacolor C 127 for colored prints.  I preferred colored prints

Kodak Brownie Starmeter

Kodak Brownie Starmeter

even then. I didn’t care or even know about film speed or aperture opening or the effects of light. But I did care about creating huge scrapbooks and albums with photos and clippings for my future family.

I went to college and kept clicking, documenting my dorm room and my dorm mates. I left college and dated, taking photos of boyfriends and parties, birthdays, and vacations. I upgraded to a Kodak Instamatic 133 camera in the 70’s.  Then I had a baby. I began documenting her life. She was born on the 16th of the month. So every month during the first year of her life, on the 16th, I propped her up and snapped a picture for her monthly “birthday.”  I continued, like all new mothers, clicking when she rolled over, crawled, fed herself, first step, first day of kindergarten, sports activities. I became the historian for my large extended family, clicking at baptisms, birthdays, graduations, weddings, and funerals.

And then in 1986 Santa Claus brought me my first 35 mm camera. A Canon AE-1.  My life changed. I began clicking for my second reason . . . .

What about you, why do you click?

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16 comments on “Why do we click?

  1. Marinelle says:

    I am loving this, Geri. Great Job!! Looking forward to more and more clicks!!
    Marinelle

  2. Anonymous says:

    I love it Geri. Interesting and entertaining!!

    • Geri Wilson says:

      Hey Jan – thanks. I really would love to post the whole album/. I was just in Florida where my sister lives now. She has our mom’s old albums. I spent some time looking at them again.There are some great photos. She could probably make a bundle on ebay selling them.

  3. Eileen says:

    This is so cool!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well, truth be told…I don’t click, because my mother is an amazing photographer! It’s made me lazy. But, I take pictures always with my eyes, and wait for Baba Geri to come and visit to make these “clicks” more permanent. Thank you Mom for sharing these wonderful photos of our family. Eleanor and I are sitting here looking at these family photos, which has so much significance because of our recent trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am my grammas grand daughter: I clicked 1509 times in Europe. I’ll send you some pictures later..
    Elly

  6. Anonymous says:

    I loved this!! Those pictures are priceless and I love the story………..talented folks!! Keep clicking- capturing golden moments that could otherwise go unremembered………..:)

  7. Anonymous says:

    Oh Geri, these are great pictures..I remember you telling me about your folks singing country western music with some pretty famous people!! I think you also once told me that The Browns?!/ used to baby sit you…….Janeau

  8. Hello! I stumbled upon this page surfing the net. My Great Uncle Smokey Pleacher used to perform with your parents, when he was with Jim and Jane and the Western Vagabonds. I wonder if you have any photos of your parents with Smokey in them? If so, I’d love to have a copy. I started a facebook page about Smokey and his career. I’ve posted many pictures and such on the page, and am always looking for new ones. If you have anything, I’d love to see! Thanks so much and God Bless!

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