Letter from the Editor: I’ve been looking so long at these pictures of you


Photo courtesy Angelina Liu

The Sidekick executive editor-in-chief has many photo albums in her home. Liu thinks physical memories are one of the most important things one can possess.

Angelina Liu, Executive Editor-in-Chief

Neatly organized in the left-hand corner of a storage closet in my home, there is a collection of photo albums. The newer albums that contain pictures of me are big, green and bulky while photos taken at my parent’s wedding are kept in a smaller, gray binder with floral print. 

I used to teeter dangerously on a stepstool to grab the heavy book. Now, I raise my hands and easily touch the beautifully bound leather. 

Stories over the years of trips to a rental house in the West Virginian countryside with a plaque of the memory of a deceased grandmother, a less than satisfactory communal bathroom and a hotel that served breakfast strictly from the hours of 4-6 a.m now exist as old photographs neatly organized in soft vinyl casing. 

The progression of years is evident, with blurry photos taken by my parent’s silver Sony CyberShot camera slowly replaced by those taken on an iPhone.

I find myself reminiscing on these prints from time to time, my fingers sifting through the dated photographs. In one yellowing photo, my arms are raised, and I am joyously celebrating in a light blue windbreaker as I build sandcastles along the shore, my wide grin revealing buck teeth. In another, I wear a rubber ducky robe and hold up eight fingers in front of a poorly decorated chocolate cake. 

I cling to these physical memories that encapsulate the greatest bonds between my family and me. Each photo tells a different story, each expression frozen in time. A stranger could easily gain a perspective of my family by shuffling through these prints, revealing aspects of ourselves otherwise hidden from the world.

Assuming the role behind the camera, I document various events and people for The Sidekick. Portraits of tennis players, teachers and drum majors clutter my SD card as I skim carefully to pick the perfect one. My favorites to capture are football and basketball games, the intensity and emotion frozen in a thousandth of a second at the lowest aperture. 

Much like a photo, a story serves the same purpose. The moment in time is fleeting, but the contents of it are documented. A story is often tucked away, hidden in a stack of research documents or sandwiched between memories. It resides as a trophy in a room, a talent that can only be seen on the field or stage. 

I find purpose in uncovering its depth. A moment in time is intimate, only shared with those who have the privilege to be included. As I observe the faded and stained photos of myself, knowing things about the moment that only I know, I search for these same details in the sources that I interview and the photos I take. I selfishly want to be let in, invade the intimacy and look into the context. I want to ask questions, experience the pregnant pause before they are truthfully answered.

I cherish these moments in which I can be included, these sacred memories that are graciously shared with me to be documented. I find joy in the idea that one day, my work could possibly  sit in a cloth-bound photo book in the closet of a stranger and be kept safe from the elements of time. The moment and all of its emotions are frozen, the contents and its significance in time recorded. 

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