Visual Ethnography – My Dad

For this week’s post I spoke to my father. He said that he would represent our relationship with a picture of our entire family fishing. He got very specific, getting a little lost in the activity, saying that he thought the picture would best be taken in the Adirondacks, on a lake, with the family either in a boat or on a dock.

I found this a little shocking because this is not at all what I thought of. I personally was thinking that my father and I’s relationship would be best represented by a picture of the two of us in front of the hardware store that my father owned and operated up until this past July. I have numerous childhood pictures of us spending time together there, and looking through the pictures you can see me growing up.

Discussing our ideal pictures a little more, I realized the common ground in our visualizations. We both were basing our imagined photograph’s off of pictures of us together when I was a child.

In an effort to capture both of these concepts in one picture, I took a picture of my dad as soon as he got home from his new job (we couldn’t actually go to the store he used to own) holding some childhood pictures of him and I doing things together, such as fishing.


I think through this I learned that my dad and I view our relationship differently. While he mostly remembers the recreational things that he was able to do with me, I remember him as a business owner, something I have always been proud of him for. I don’t think either one of us is wrong in how we see our relationship, but instead it has to do with our perspectives.


4 thoughts on “Visual Ethnography – My Dad

  1. I enjoyed your post very much because the subject was about your father. I can imagine what my father would have chosen to talk about if I asked him. My “relationship” with my father began when he learned sign language, especially when I went away to college. He made an extra effort to communicate with me more whenever I was home. One time when we were out of state vacationing, he and I went to a small Amish town to have lunch while my mother was attending her reunion committee luncheon, that was when our father/daughter relationship took on a deeper level. My father was always working (2 or 3 jobs) to support the family of 7. His definition of relationship with his kids would be that he was always working so we would have clothes, food, and a nice warm home. For me, it would be his willingness take some time out of his busy schedule to communicate and be with each of us (5 of us)… one brother has dyslexia, one sister had childhood health issues, and me being deaf. Even though family members or childhood friends may view relationship differently doesn’t mean your view is wrong, just that it is unique and special. I really liked your post and tell your father, “happy holidays”.

  2. I think the difference in views on the relationship between the two of you is pretty common between parents and their children. The parent is always going to remember the good times the two of you shared, and these will always stick with them,. For the child though, I think it’s common to remember what made them who they were, in your case as a business owner. To some extent the child will look up to the parent and what made them the “hero” is what will always reign as the top memory over the times enjoyed together.

  3. I like the idea of relationships being defined by your memories of the person. Spending time with each other, and more importantly enjoying the time together really makes for strong relationships. People may not value the same memories, since small acts from one person could be really meaningful to the other one. This doesn’t mean that each person doesn’t value the other as a whole any less.

  4. I think that it’s so interesting the way you each remember your relationship differently. I think that parents tend to see relationships with their children in a way that holds onto the past rather than what is strictly present. In a way the person their child is now is less who they are in the present rather the entirety and sum of who they were in the past as well.

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