These young men are connecting with their ancestors.  It is Qingming Jie – a time to remember the ancestors and send them more provisions for their afterlife.  If you cannot be at home to sweep the tombs of your ancestors, then you head for a crossroads and burn money, pictures or models of cars, houses or food to send to the spirit world.

This need for connection to the past is interesting. Part odf it is hope that the ancestors will protect their family, part of it is respect for those gone on.

We can connect this to our customs of leaving flowers on graves or participating in Armistice/Memorial/Remembrance Day traditions.  Looking backward to remember the past, protect the future.

Photography is another way of remembering the past – and protecting the future.  Our connections with the things we create images of brings forward all of the personal experiences to express our feelings or our vision of what we are taking.  The photographs of lifestyles, lansdscapres, wildlife, people, war, beatuy … all preserve the moment and can serve to protect the future of them.

Galen Rowell, in his book “Galen Rowell’s Vision; The Art of Adventure Photography”  talks about an experience of photographing the Seven Simians – a family Dixieland band from the then USSR.  Later this band hijacked a plane to fly to the west.  Half of the band were killed in the ensuing gun battle.  His photo of the children in this band gained additional poignancy after their deaths.  They are now preserved, and a symbol of the desperate journey for freedom that people will take.

“Time always changes the meaning of a photograph” he argues.  Time creates additional connections, changes the way we see images.  Old images now are valued for their gateway, not to the person, but to the time – the clothes, the hairstyles and the activities. The photographer’s expression and vision may be lost because they no longer have a resonance with our times and thinking, and yet, the record of life they made, the pain, pleasure, beauty and horror are all still there.  Connections to the past, and if we use them well, connections to the future.

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