Written by Mark Yokoyama and César Escalona
Photos are a window into our lives. They show who we are and how we lived. They are a record of heritage, history and culture.
Some histories only record the lives of rich or powerful people. But most families have photos, so photos can tell the story of almost anyone. With photos, we can all be part of history.
Photos capture cultural heritage. You can see how people dressed and the houses they lived in. They show us events and places that were important to people.
They show traditions that built up over time that make this island unique. When families took photos at parties, events and jollifications, they were making a historical record—even if they didn’t think of it that way at the time.
These photos show us people’s expressions and what they were doing. They show us how people interacted with each other. They also show material culture. We can see what people were wearing and the objects around them.
Photos taken outdoors show us the cultural landscape. We can see architecture and nature, and how people are interacting with the island. On St. Martin we often see how much the island has changed in a very short period of time.
Photos are a window into the past. We can use them to learn what life was like. But they also show us where our traditions came from. We can see the roots of today’s culture in the photos of yesterday.
Photos are art. The photographer was expressing their vision, and their creative choices are captured in the photo. Family portraits were made with care. Each detail reflects a choice: how the people were grouped, what they wore, where the photo was taken and how they posed. The choices have symbolic meaning we can study, telling us about the family and their culture.
Every picture is important. Old photos and photo albums are precious family memories. But they are also important historical archives. Your photos can be a part of history. When we preserve photos, we build a richer history of the island. We make sure everyone’s story is part of the story of St. Martin.
Do you have old family photos? You can have them scanned at Amuseum Naturalis in French Quarter. You can also learn more about why photos are so important at the heritage preservation station at the Migratory Bird Festival from 9am-12pm on Saturday, November 9th at Amuseum Naturalis.