My Memories | My Grandfather
Gaylotta Murray, Founder
My best childhood memories were of the summers my brother, and I spent in Hickory, North Carolina, with our maternal grandparents. However, my most significant memory was traveling with our grandfather, the only Black photographer in Guilford County, to meet with families for photoshoots. My grandfather was a gifted man with a grade school education who grew up in the 1900's to become a certified professional photographer in the DEEP SOUTH.
When we returned home from a photo shoot, he would eat dinner then disappear into the darkroom he built at the back of the house.
I was a curious child, so I followed my grandfather's path out the back door. I stepped inside the darkroom and saw photos everywhere. They were on the walls, hanging from clotheslines and lying-in piles or trays on the table. Acknowledging my curiosity, he showed me the process of turning negatives into photographs. The memory still conjures up the smell of the strong chemicals in the trays.
But it was the quiet moments that were so memorable. The times I would sit beside him to hear a story.
My grandfather was a great storyteller and would often share stories about his clients. Most stories had a bit of humor; he was good at getting folks to laugh. As I reflect, I understand what inspired his storytelling. My grandfather could converse with anyone, but his real skill was listening to your story.
Granddad once showed me a picture he took of a woman in a coffin. My eyes popped, and I asked why someone would want such a sad picture?
He explained that as a photographer he knows photos are cherished memories for people. He also understood death was a part of life and his client wanted this photo to complete the visual narrative of their loved one's life. The irony here is that I began this business by making video memorial tributes where families celebrate the life and death of a loved one.
YBLM helps create photo legacies. Granddad created one for me.
Restless Marvin Derr
Recently I found a piece of memorabilia that spoke to me. It was a document from the state of North Carolina certifying my grandfather Restless Marvin Derr as a registered photographer by the Board of Photographic Examiners. A huge accomplishment for a Black man with a grade school education. This is his legacy to me. To honor his accomplishment by becoming a certified photo manager, taking his love for photography and his accomplishments to another level. That is my goal.
Photo memories inspire future generations!
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