Our concept of family is deeply personal and forever evolving. For some, it could mean mom’s knowing glances, your partner’s gentle chiding or grandpa’s turkey gravy. For others, it could be found across the hedge you share with your neighbour, in the reciprocal banter you relish with friends or the unrequited love you have for your cat. The common thread is that the people we consider to be our family encourage us, teach us and care for us, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part (or at least until our childhood bedrooms get turned into guest rooms).
The Family Issue of Kinfolk explores the relationships that we have with our nearest and dearest, in all of their iterations. We ask some big questions: How is photography changing the way we construct our family narratives? Should we feel guilty about speaking to our barista more than our sister? And did our parents actually have any idea what they were doing? Each family has its ups and downs, but by recognizing the imperfect nature of our ties, we can work to better both our relationships and ourselves. As George Bernard Shaw said, “If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”
What we discovered is that there are as many possibilities for the way we turn out as adults as there are child-raising philosophies, educational systems and organic baby bootie makers (there really are a lot of the latter, too). No matter what kind of family we come from or the type of family we want to create ourselves, there’s no longer a universal concept of “normal.” There’s no ubiquitous manual to consult, rules to follow or boxes to check. Well, maybe just a few: love, understanding, empathy and support. And perhaps a little patience.
Words by Nathan Williams and Georgia Frances King. Photograph by Emory Ann Kurysh.