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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

humble beginnings

mouse over to see the original

1720 West 34th Avenue
Denver, Colorado

This is the house where Dad was born, almost 88 years ago.

As you know, I am finishing Dad's genealogy scrapbook. I had originally planned to just use a small black & white "snapshot" version of this photo, to document Dad's birthplace in a layout about his birth. But as I collected and scanned old photos, I was inexplicably pulled back to this, my own, photo. And then, over the course of a few days, the oft-used phrase humble beginnings kept whispering to me, "use me for a layout about Dad's humble beginnings..."

Oh boy, here we go again: despite my own best intentions, my art tells me what to do and leads me off in a direction I hadn't planned. I have learned to listen.


Dad's story is the classic American Dream. Born of immigrant parents, who, while not dirt-poor, had very little materially. They lived simply and honorably, scrimped and saved every penny...in order to give their son the best that they could offer: faith in God above, loving and devoted parents, a quality education...a good start in life.

Aldo grew up and become a distinguished attorney; he married and raised a family...and with Mom at his side, passed on the values of his parents: he lived simply and honorably, scrimped and saved, giving his children the best that he could offer: faith in God above, loving and devoted parents, a quality education...a good start in life.


When you "mouse over to see the original," you will see the original photograph I took in February, 2005, while on a genealogy research excursion with Dad into what was once called "Little Italy" (also known as Lower North Denver). At Dad's request, I took my camera and drove him around the neighborhood, documenting some of the landmarks of his childhood.

Dad's parents - Greg and Della - rented this little house from Della's mother, Carmela Libonati, who lived in the big house next door; they lived there for a just few short years before eventually moving to a home of their own.


I really had fun photo editing this image. Sure, the subject matter is the house, but the subject itself is fond memories of lives lived, of a bygone era. Not my own, but Dad's. I wanted, above all, to convey a feeling, not just document a place. 

I knew I needed to remove or minimize details of contemporary life, so I erased the wires and neutralized the colors; then I applied a couple Rad Lab filters to get that "misty memories" feel. I initially tried simply converting it to black & white, but it didn't convey the emotions I felt. I probably spent most of my time fine-tuning the colors until it felt just right. I did seek help from one of Kim Klassen's inspiring video tutorial "recipes," from her blog. I believe it was entitled "Dream Processing." And of course, because I can never follow any recipe accurately, I changed it up a bit here and there, as Kim herself expects her students to do.

Can't wait to share the scrapbook layout...



  1. I love your sepia toned image! What a neat little house. You are so lucky to have so much of your history. ;->

  2. Love your image such a strong house with masses of memories within it's walls....

  3. This is more than fabulous! The coloring is perfect.