28 September 2012

Rule for Photographing Ancestral Places

view of Portage looking southeast
One thing I did not expect when we traveled to Hancock, Michigan was the gigantic presence of the Portage River. Hancock is perched on one bank and across the expanse is the town of Houghton. The Houghton-Hancock Bridge connecting the two towns is vital to the prosperity of both, but as the only land access to the northern most area of Michigan it is also indispensable to the entire Upper Peninsula called the Keweenaw Peninsula. To the south the Portage River becomes Portage Lake and to the north, connects to Lake Superior as the Portage Canal. 

location of Temple Jacob with view of Portage
Temple Jacob has made its home on the bank of this venerable river since 30 May 1912, the day its cornerstone was laid.[1] The view is spectacular and I wonder if there is another synagogue in the United States with such a setting.
Temple Jacob building and the bridge

Rule for Photographing Ancestral Places

The pictures I did not take were 1) a panorama of the river from the steps of the synagogue and 2) street views of the temple's location. I was so busy recording the building and the events that I forgot my rule: Whenever you visit an ancestral place, stand in front and take pictures down the street, up the street and across the street. Then, walk away from your ancestral place and take pictures of it from each of the three angles and from a distance; i.e. from down the street, up the street and across the street. 

And what do you do with all of those pictures? Put them in an album, photo book or scrapbook, of course!
page elements: Journey of the Heart
© 2011 Elise Hansen of Elise's Pieces Designs
Hope this helps you record and memorialize your own ancestral journeys. 

Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!

[1] Rochelle Berger Elstein, "The Jews of Houghton-Hancock and Their Synagogue," Michigan Jewish History 38 (November 1998); online archives, Jewish Historical Society of Michigan (http://www.michjewishhistory.org/pdfs/vol38.pdf : accessed 28 September 2012), page 7


  1. I wish I had these tips when I visited my Ancestral home. However I think I will use these tips on my home for my kid's scrapbook.

  2. Hmmm....good idea. I have those pictures of our home, but have not put them together on a page of where we live now. Thank you Devon!

  3. Thank you for this easy-to-remember advice. It's like the four "compass" points of a map, really . . . and a final view from a distance. All I have to do now is travel to the places!

  4. That's the hard part Mariann. Not only do we have to move out of our comfort zone, ie our usual lives, it requires money and time. Well worth it for setting down our own stories I believe.


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