By Scott Shephard
In 1955 I was 2 years old and my brother, Mike, was about 5. My mom was a stay-at-home mom (as most were back then) and my dad, who was 37, was working at L.A. McKean Auto Company in Sioux Falls. Money was tight for the Shephard family back then. And yet, here my brother and I are in the brand new clothes our mom got us. We are getting our portraits taken at a high-end portrait studio - Harold's Photography of Sioux Falls.
Our family wasn't unique. Getting good portraits at good studios was very much part of the American culture back then. And, for the most part, it still is - many parents get professional portraits made of their young children. After a few years, though, for most it becomes a "do-it-yourself" enterprise. It certainly did for the Shephards in the 1950s and beyond.
In fact, as far as I know, this was the last professional portrait done of my brother and me together. I don't feel sad but I can't help but imagining a series of high quality portraits of me, my brother and my sister, Barb, as we got older. Instead we have a scattering of average quality pictures taken by the amateur photographer we loved the most - my mother.
Photos are very much a part of our personal and shared history. I have no recollection of the moment this photo was taken. In fact I have have no recollection of most of the moments of my life. So a photo like this brings at least 1/60th of second of my life into sharp focus: on this day we got dressed up, my brother put his arm around me and we smiled. I'd like to think we are looking at our mother, who is very much part of this photo, even if you can't see her.
(Add 51 years to our lives, dress us much more casually, put us in a beer garden in Berlin and here's what you get:)