Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

Legacy Multimedia Blog

The Salt Of The Earth – about Sebastião Salgado

Posted on August 14th, 2015

Last week I watched the documentary “The Salt of the Earth” about documentary photographer Sebastião Salgado. This is one of those films that I can’t stop thinking about, which is a good thing.

For those that aren’t familiar with Salgado’s work, he is a Brazilian photojournalist and social photographer that has traveled the world photographing indigenous cultures and the social effects of major geo-political actions on these areas. Largely self-directed, these photo shoots have been published into large-format books that have helped raise awareness of mankind’s effect on human communities.

The film, co-directed by Wim Wenders and Salgado’s son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado deftly weaves interviews with Salgado, footage of him shooting, and exploration of his photo sessions with commentary by Wenders, Salgado’s wife Leila as well as his son Juliano. Much of the film is shot in black and white, reflecting Salgado’s choice of shooting in black and white although some fade to color sequences are there, which provide for some great dramatization and a reminder of why black and white can be so effective for documentary photography. There has been some criticism by reviewers that this film doesn’t explore his methodology nor explore the greater social implications of his work. I don’t find that a problem with this film. First of all, going in those directions could turn this into a docu-series and secondly, Wenders’ aim is more to provide a glimpse into an extremely talented and sensitive man and how his passion for exploration and documenting the human condition has led him on a 40 year global tour. I like the slow, almost moseying pace of the film for it allows the audience to really savor the impact of the images as well as to be present with Salgado’s own emotional affect.

I’m not exactly sure how long it took to make this film but you got the impression that Wenders has followed Salgado for much of his adult life, which allowed for a great time-line of personal narrative. Some really good film techniques were used to support Salgado’s actual photographs such as the use of other photos and film clips taken during photo shoots, and special effects such as Salgado’s face fading into a photograph he was talking about.

I hope this movie is available near you. I would imagine at some point, it will be available on streaming platforms, but for now, you might check with your own museum or independent film theater.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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Posted in Family Memories, Multimedia Storytelling, Personal History

Legacy Multimedia Supports “Uncovered” Memoir

Posted on August 12th, 2015

Legacy Multimedia created a video to help friend Leah Lax with her Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the publication and promotion of her new memoir book, “Uncovered: How I left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home.”

Told in the rare voice of a once-covered woman, and the very first memoir ever of a gay person from the Hasidic fold, Uncovered is the moving story of Leah Lax’s journey toward a home where she truly belongs. Gloria Steinem, National Book Award winner Mark Doty, and NYTimes Bestseller Rosellen Brown all express glowing admiration for this moving memoir.

Leah is 90% toward her goal of raising $15,000 with only 11 days to go. I hope you’ll take the time to watch this video and consider donating whatever amount you’re moved by to her campaign.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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Posted in Family Memories, Personal History

“I wish I had met you…”

Posted on January 26th, 2015

For the past few weeks I have been involved in a back and forth phone tag with a potential client.

Each time he’s called me, I returned the call, and each time I called, he was  busy and told me he would get back to me. A couple weeks ago he asked me to send him some more information about my work so I sent him a flyer, and links to several video clips and testimonials. But we never actually had “the conversation” about what he was looking for, how I could help him, and how soon we could get started.

He is a busy man, I get it. I actually have conversations like this all the time. The children are busy with their careers, their families, and their parents’ mortality is not a pressing concept.

Well I found out last night that this man’s father passed away yesterday. He became ill Friday night and by Sunday he was gone. I met his father a few times. He was a lovely man and seemed so vital when I saw him not too long ago.

There are no words to describe my sadness over his loss of his father. The family’s time will be taken up this week in the process of completion and then into mourning. And it may be a long while before they are at a place where I often find people. When they walk up to me and say, “I wish I had met you (insert time) six months ago, before I lost my father.”

 

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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Posted in Family Memories, Personal History

When Is Your Memory Truly Forgotten?

Posted on January 9th, 2015

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“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”  — Banksy

While this quote was directly attributed to the graffiti artist Banksy, the sentiment is not his alone and appears all over the place, attributed to several different people.

For instance:

“Some day soon, perhaps in forty years, there will be no one alive who has ever known me. That’s when I will be truly dead – when I exist in no one’s memory. I thought a lot about how someone very old is the last living individual to have known some person or cluster of people. When that person dies, the whole cluster dies,too, vanishes from the living memory. I wonder who that person will be for me. Whose death will make me truly dead?” Irvin D. Yalom, Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy

And

“There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.”David Eagleman, Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

I’ve read that ancient Egyptians  believed that once your name vanished from people’s memories, you were truly dead.  That this complete erasure was comparable to an eternity in hell.

People are remembered by their legacy, whether it’s public or private. If something you did lives on in the public consciousness, then your name stays relevant and you, (your memory) become immortal.

With the work I do in video biographies, my goal is to create a work of art about your life that lives on into perpetuity, continually speaking your name as well as your accomplishments, thoughts, visions and goals into future generations of your family. By this, our wish is that your descendants who have yet to be born, will know you and understand who you are and that years down the line, your name will still be spoken and you will be remembered.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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Posted in Geneaology, Personal History, Preserving Memories

Alicia Elkort’s Poetic Memoir Of Our Grandparents – “Apricot Preserves”

Posted on November 6th, 2014

My grandmother used to make these amazing cookies for special occasions. They are called Franz Joseph Cookies and supposedly took their name from the famous Emperor of Austria. I’m not really sure the back story on how my grandma got this recipe but it was a family favorite and one that had great pomp and circumstance around the making of the cookies. She resisted giving the recipe to anyone for many years and finally when she was well into her late 80s, she gave me the recipe. When I make them, I use her gifted and typed recipe that is yellowed and stained with cooking splatters. I posted the recipe for these wonderful cookies several years ago. Feel free to bake them and make sure to tell grandma thanks! (The photo on that page is her in her kitchen when she was in her 80s, still cooking up a storm.)

Recently my sister, an extremely talented and published poet, wrote a poem about the making of these cookies. It was published by Red Paint Hill Publishing in the anthology, “Mother is a Verb,”  released May 2014. The poem poignantly evokes the memory of these cookies and of my grandmother and I hope you will enjoy reading this poem as much as I do.

 

APRICOT PRESERVES
Alicia Elkort

All summer, I sleep on a foldaway
in my grandparents’ living room,
against the open window,
the torn mesh screen
patterning the trees
outside.                         At night,
I breathe
wisps of jasmine and honeysuckle,
fall asleep to the dewy patter of crickets.

 Lightly grease two cookie sheets.

Before sunup,
Grandma wakes me,
a brush of lips
on the crown
of my head.
I stretch my body long
to the scent of eggs,
toast and oranges.

By six a.m. we’re in
the old Dodge Dart
with blue plaid seats,
windows rolled down,
Grandma and Grandpa
in the front seat,
bookends to my little self
lodged between them,
the cool air beginning to warm.

 Grate hazel nuts finely and set aside.  

As we drive the empty freeway,
I take my grandfather’s hand.
Los Angeles disappears,
replaced by wheat colored hills,
cow-dotted pastures, horses,
fences, then row
upon row
upon row
of trees that fly by like a memory.

Grandpa turns onto a dirt road,
tires churning, crunching gravel,
the released whisper of each tiny
rock a hello and a welcome.  We
park underneath an olive tree,
approach the foreman of the orchard.
He hands us a large cardboard box.
Grandpa counts out five one-dollar bills.
Whatever fits in the box will belong to us.

I climb ladders, scramble up rough-barked
trunks, reach across leaves and pluck
apricots from their branches,
slipping the furry globes into the box,
taking something I won’t have to share.

 Sift flour, cinnamon and cocoa together.

An apricot with the blush of red
makes especially good jam.
I fill my cardboard box
only with apricots
with the blush of red.
What doesn’t fit, I stuff
into my shorts and jacket
when no one is looking.

 Blend groundnuts into mixture. 

On the drive home,
the remnants of peanut butter and jelly
on hand made whole-wheat bread
surround me as I lay across the backseat,
my hair drifting into the box of apricots
nestled on the floor.

I grab an apricot,
slowly chew the moist flesh,
throw the pit out the open window
and reach for another
and another
until I fall asleep to the rhythm
of the susurrant engine.

 When cookies are cool, turn one half of them
upside down and spread ½ tsp apricot jam on each.  

Later that night, Grandma
leans into the sugared
dough, her hair hidden
beneath a red bandana,
hands covered in flour.

 Place another cookie on top and squeeze together lightly.

I look over at my grandfather
reading on the couch, his thick
hair parted on the side, combed
into a wave across his brow.  In a quiet
voice, Grandma tells me she had
other suitors, but Grandpa was the most
handsome.  He looks up, smiles at Grandma,
turns to me, rolls his eyes, then laughs.
During the week,
he repairs washing machines.  At night,
every night, he reads National Geographic.

 Dip tops of cookie sandwiches in chocolate. 

I lean into the dough,
touch my grandmother’s hands—
I love the feel of the soft fleshy parts
soft as the skin of an apricot,
soft as kindness.

  Press a whole blanched almond into the top of each cookie.  Then enjoy.

When the cookies
come out of the oven,
we three sit at the table
lit by candles, cleared
of the remnants of dinner.
We sip black tea
while eating cookies,
the wafers made of hazelnuts,
topped with chocolate and almonds,
all held together with apricot jam.

Years later, when
my grandmother is dying,
I take her hands and rub
the soft fleshy parts.  I rub until
the moment blossoms
into the sweetness of jasmine
and the earthy oozing orchard
and the hot drive home
and the hazelnut dough
and the apricot jam
and the sweat of her perfect love.

 

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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Posted in Family Memories