Pictures Are Worth More Than Words

I’m often asked by people getting to know me, why I take so many pictures as I have so many photos of myself and the people and things I love in my home and other places. Many folks aren’t aware that I grew up in abject poverty, was a ward of the court since age 5, was the eldest of 9, was homeless for most of my childhood, was abused physically, mentally and emotionally, and wasn’t enrolled in school until much later. I remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Joel. She had a kindness that was like the warmest sweater wrapping you up on a cold day. She was a tiny woman and so excitable about picture day. She sent me home with a picture package and told me to dress in my best and to remember to smile for the camera. I was hype skipping home from school. I took the package to my grandmother and she ripped it to shreds in front of me. She laughed saying something like she ain’t got no money for no damn pictures. Every year after that was the same, so eventually I stopped bringing it home. The closest I got to school pics was the group ones we took with our class and teacher and even then I didn’t get a copy. The pic below was my first school picture at age 14. I was so proud of that and nervous too that’s why I didn’t smile as big. I braided my pony tale down my back and rocked my ole famous mullet style cut. Silly me I didn’t know that the pic would only show the front unlike the different packages showed, so my pony tale is lost in history lol! I got my first camera at age 15 and well haven’t stopped since. I love the skin I’m in and take lots of pictures of it. The memories. Those irreplaceable memories that live in those photos are my visual poem that speaks in a language that is mine to understand. ❤

-Gracie Berry

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