Mary Presson Roberts Photography

Legacy

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.”

-Ray Bradbury

In the spring of 2022, my mother passed away after a long illness. I was her primary caregiver for 2 1/2 years. While she was ill, my mother

advised me to get a storage unit in order to put things into storage so that I could take my time in making decisions regarding letting go of her things. I followed her advice and paid for storing treasures from my mother’s house for over a year. Each month, I paid a storage fee that was more than what I paid for my first apartment to house boxes of books, buttons, knitting needles, empty envelopes, stools, and cut-out squares of green paper. Boxes, tubs, and stacks of things that meant something to my mother thus meant something to me.

I intended to photograph these items and then let them go. In that first year, I made a few photographs. Finally, a close friend encouraged me to get rid of the storage unit. I made space in my home for the boxes, tubs, and stacks and brought my mother’s things to my house. I began making photographs of the items. Although the items were more accessible, the pictures I was creating using the items did not fulfill me. The photographs seemed too much like what I had photographed before.  They held no meaning.

One day, I took a stack of my mother’s books to Grandfather Mountain and photographed them along a path. As the books led the viewer along the path, this photograph led me toward my project, Legacy. As all things return to nature, photographing my mother’s objects in nature seemed right. The process of creating each photograph allowed me to release my grief and the hold the objects themselves had on me.

Legacy is a project about accepting the past, being fully present in the present, and hopeful about the future.

Here are a few of the pictures from the series.  I will share more images from this project in the coming weeks.

Mary Presson Roberts

I am a travel and fine art photographer living and working in the Carolinas. My camera has taken me to places I never would have experienced and to people I never would have met. Photography has truly changed my life! Using my blog, I hope to share the joys of both travel and photography.

8 comments

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  • I am so happy for you that you had your mother in your life for as long as you did. Mine passed away when she was only 45. I love the fact that you were able to preserve so many memories through your photography. They will being much pleasure to you as time goes on.

  • How very special and creative. Your images bring so much more life and meaning to your mother’s possessions.

  • Hi. I met you in 2021 when you took a picture of me taking pictures of the azaleas at Magnolia Planation for one of your blogs. We spoke briefly and then we each moved on to the rest of our morning and I don’t know if you ever used the picture or not. I sometimes seem to stay in my own little world and need to branch out more, but something led me to this post/story tonight. I just went through the first anniversary of losing my Dad and I had a rough time last week. I just wanted to tell you that I love this Legacy blog and how you found a wonderful way to deal with your grief. I wish you much peace and thank you for sharing this.- Natalie Chapman

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