Growing up, I could stare at my parents’ bedroom wall for hours. Stapled to the unfinished plywood was a collection of photographs from their lives in the U.S., and the ones they had left behind across la frontera many years before.

Left: My abuela Sara.
Right: A photo sent to us by my father’s family after a visit to Cuba.

These memories and reminders of home rested above the handmade frame of the king bed we shared. They watched over me and my little sister as we played and slept beneath them.

35mm prints from my preteen years.
Top: The sunset from my trampoline.
Middle: A family friend.
Bottom: A school field trip to the zoo.

I must have memorized every detail of those photographs, every crack in the finish and curling edge. 

I began to take my own photos during those years, and still have my favorite prints tucked away in a box. 

We moved out of the farmhouse when I was 10. All four of us carefully took the photos down and stored them for the move. Some were the only copies my parents had.

After we moved, a client gave my dad a box of assorted frames. He began matting and framing memories, balancing a new printer on a stool in the corner so family moments could be spit out like sunflower seeds to adorn the walls of our trailer.

Over the next five years, new photos outnumbered the old, and looking at the photo wall never gave me the feeling I had as a child. The images became just another thing to pass by on my way to my room, even though they formed a backdrop to my preteen years. 

My family moved to our current house in 2014. By now my parents have accumulated thousands of photos on our desktop computer, and my mom has spent hours scanning countless negatives from my childhood. We no longer have a familial photo wall, but I’ve tried to carry on the tradition. 

My bedroom walls showcase the photography of as many artists as possible, both to inspire me and support them. 

I grew up surrounded by moments my parents deemed worth remembering, and I choose to honor that by surrounding myself with moments other photographers deemed worth capturing.

A portion of my current gallery wall.