project geneatography – {nominate a family for a year’s gift}

i’ve been having some interesting conversations lately with my artistic friends.  in these conversations, i’ve talked about how there’s been a longing in me to do a project on a family.   something raw and real, that’s a deviation from the reality television crazed world we live in.  a unique project where i merge my two worlds – genealogy and photography (what i call geneatography) – into a multimedia documentary project.  one where i could show a family’s successes and adversities, their joys and pains, from both a historical and current context, all in one year’s time.  i’ve made the decision that i want to pursue this project during the year 2013, and perhaps beyond.

Geneatography-by-NickaSmith (c) Nicka Smith, all rights reserved

what i’m offering (what the family receives)

  1. one year of documentary photography – at no cost to the participating family (worth at least $4,200)
    photography of the every day life of the selected family.  being there when good things happen (like graduations, weddings, and so on) and when bad things happen (like deaths/funerals, job loss, etc.).  this would include periodic family portraits (traditional and non traditional) and also photography of their environment and possibly other family members if they are integral to the story that is being told.  this is not a portrait session for every month of the year, but a documentary project of the family’s life that may include portraits.  there is a strong possibility that i’ll shoot video or record audio too.
  2. one year of genealogy research – at no cost to the participating family (worth at least $6,000)
    genealogy research going back as far as i can on a specific line of interest for the family.  if i discover some compelling, i’ll dig as far as i can.  the research can start with a question the family may have about an ancestor or event and i’ll document the process of how i found the info for them.

while not all of the project will be shared publicly through this blog, parts of it will. the remaining will be on a private blog site where i’ll document the entire process and it will be open for the family to see.  how the final product will be shared with the family is to be determined.

Memorial Day 2011 - (c) ns2 photography - all rights reserved
me, with part of my immediate family, which includes nearly 100 people. 🙂

why am i doing this?

for the last 13 years, i’ve given the gift of geneatography to my family, the Atlas family.  i can’t tell you the amount of hours i have dedicated to the project.  to me, it doesn’t matter.  one of the greatest joys of my life has been seeing how much the work that me and my team have done has positively affected the lives of my relatives.  there is no price tag that can be put on it.  it’s something that i’ve been gifted to do, and i want to bless another family in a similar way.

who am i looking for?

  • a family (doesn’t have to be a traditional one) with a story.
  • a unit that’s overcome obstacles to get to where they are.
  • required: at least three generations living.
  • required: a deep passion and love for family
  • required: a family who is willing to be transparent and have their lives documented (both through genealogy and photography) for an entire year.  not that i’ll be with them for 365 days, but one that is willing to commit to the entire process.
  • class and income aren’t factors.
  • must live in the san francisco bay area.  preferably based in the east bay (oakland, richmond, berkeley, and so on), but not a requirement.
  • race, immigration status, culture, or language aren’t factors either.

Geneatography-by-NickaSmith (c) Nicka Smith, all rights reserved

how will i choose the family?

i think i know quite a few people, but i know my network knows more folks than i do.  so i’ll be taking nominations.  if i don’t know you, but you’re reading this, you can also nominate someone or yourself.  how?  use the nomination form below.  i’ll take nominations until thanksgiving day 2012.  a decision on the chosen family will be made by december 1, 2012.

things to include in your submission:

  • what makes this family’s story special?
  • how would this project benefit the family nominated?
  • how would this project positively change the family?
  • why are you nominating the family?  what’s your relation to them?

additional things to consider before submitting

  • is the family willing to allow a stranger (me) into their world?
  • is the family willing to be open about what they’ve endured and overcome with me?
  • is the family willing to share certain parts of their story with the world?
  • do all members of the family who would be involved like to be photographed?

i can already hear people saying that i’m crazy for doing this.  why on earth would i offer so much for nothing?  to me, it’s not about that.  it’s merely giving a blessing to someone else, when they didn’t even ask for it.  just thinking about being a blessing someone else makes me THAT happy.  🙂

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