Serving Up a Wimbledon Memory

The Fourth of July holiday always brings back fond memories for me of family celebrations sparked with fireworks, BBQ and homemade ice cream.  But it’s also the final weekend for the championship play at the celebrated Wimbledon Tennis Club http://www.wimbledon.com.  I’ve spent more than one Fourth of July glued to the televised match. I crossed another item off my “bucket lis”t a couple years ago when I finally had the chance to go to Wimbledon during the championship tournament.  Of course I always thought that I might be stepping onto one of those grass courts as a competitor when I got there, but I by the time I arrived my chances of doing that had long since passed.

The Big Board
Wimbledon’s Order of Play board is located just inside the main gate to the club’s courts. The excitement of the tournament hits you as soon as you step inside.

For tennis players, going to Wimbledon is like making a pilgrimage to a holy shrine.  No sooner had I arrived at my friend, Nancy’s home in Wimbledon, after a trans-Atlantic flight, than we headed out the door for the 15-minute walk from her place, tucked back on one of the less noticeable side streets in town,to the club.  With tickets in hand , we walked up to the gate, missing the long queues at the entry as we went late in the day. Play had been long underway. Stepping inside, you are met with the big scheduling board detailing which players are on what court and at what time. There’s no shortage of games to watch.

Sandra Swings
Player Sandra Zahlavova hits a return during play on Court 7. With seats so close to the court it’s possible to capture the action without using a telephoto lens.

The biggest competitors, of course, can be found on either the renown Centre Court or Court 2. You must have a ticket for those courts specifically in order to get a seat there.  But every other match is open to everyone with the price of a general admission ticket, as ours was. And the seating for these matches is right there at court side, unlike the stadium seating for Centre Court and Court 2. You hear the swoosh of the racquet as the player comes down on their serves and strokes. Needless to say anyone with a camera is pretty much guaranteed of getting excellent action shots of the players made even more up close with a telephoto lens. With the audience sitting or standing so close, the concentration level of the competitor must be a challenge.

Of course it’s all still very proper.  Ball boys and girls wear uniforms sporting the club’s purple and green colors. Linesmen and women wear the tailored and traditional blue blazers and white pants, socks and shoes.  The grounds are immaculately kept, just like the grass courts. There are gardens and green spaces where you can go sit, eat a bite and watch the action on the large television monitors.

Wimbeldon's Wall of Champions
It’s fun to read the club’s Wall of Champions which tells the history of the tournament and its winners year by year.

At one time or another all the tennis greats have donned their tennis whites to take their place in tradition at the famous British tennis club. A few have made it onto the club’s Wall of Champions. Viewing that wall is to see a pictorial history of the sport.  It’s a thrill just to look at all the names of players, past and present, who took home one of the championship trophies.

Inside the  club museum you can peruse exhibits between matches although I didn’t make it there. Unfortunately for us, the rain started to fall not long after we had snared a court side spot at one of the matches.  And while everyone else fled for the food service area or the gift shop, we stayed covered up by our rain jackets to watch the very well choreographed grounds crew quickly roll out the cover across the court. That in itself was entertaining.

Trophy Window
I spotted this jewlery shop window display while riding on a bus. Although I never made it back to check, I assumed that these were replicas, not the real trophies.

Even if you don’t attend a single match, you can participate in the festive mood of the championship just by being in the town of Wimbledon.  Street signs remind drivers that the tournament restricts curbside waiting times. Shop windows are cleverly decorated with the tennis theme.  Restaurants and pubs of course celebrate with offerings of the tournament’s famous dish of strawberries and fresh cream as well as the other standard pub fare. And everywhere you spot vans or cars shuttling players and coaches to and from their places of lodging to the courts.

Shuttles like this one, carry players to and from the tournament courts and if you're lucky, you might get a glimpse of some of the Wimbledon competitors as the come and go.
Shuttles like this one, carry players to and from the tournament courts and if you’re lucky, you might get a glimpse of some of the Wimbledon competitors as the come and go.

If you’re lucky, you may see one of the current or former stars of the game, as we did when Martina Navratilova walked into the restaurant where we were having dinner one evening. Locals seem to take it all in stride, some even leave to let out their homes during the tournament,but I couldn’t imagine missing it. My one visit there was a treat and a dream come true. Not even a little rain could dampen either my excitement or the thrill of the finally getting to experience for myself the traditions of Wimbledon.

he club's green and purple colors can be found everywhere in Wimbledon during the tournament including, of course, the tennis club's logos.
The club’s green and purple colors can be found everywhere in Wimbledon during the tournament including, of course, the tennis club’s logos.

Picturing Dad

This Father’s Day will be very different for me. It will be the first year without my father who died at age 94 just two months ago after a long, happy and fruitful life.  I read what I had written for this blog last year at this time.  I’m now very glad I wrote what I did, when I did so that he could read it too.  We sometimes forget, or just don’t take time, to tell those who matter most to us in our lives exactly how we feel about them.  You can read or re-read what I wrote about my Dad last year by clicking on this link:https://cherylcrooksphotography.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/celebrating-dad/ . It will take you there.

This Father’s Day I have a room full of boxes of albums, loose and framed photos, home movies and slides that one of my brother’s hauled out from Kansas to me just this past week.  My father, in written instructions, appointed me in charge of sorting through and dividing up the family’s photo archives. And when you’re a photographer’s daughter, that’s a huge responsibility. Fortunately, my mother, also now deceased, had gone through many of their personal photographs years ago. She thoughtfully separated many of them into boxes, each carefully labeled with my and my brothers’ names.  She placed many into photo albums according to date. When,due to her dementia, she became too disabled to do more, I took over the job.

Sometimes your fondest memories of your Dad are of the everyday jobs.  This photo of my father, taken just this past March, was one of the last I made of him at his home.  He loved to ride his lawn mower and spent nearly an hour on it that day. I'm so very glad now that I stopped to catch him in this photo.
Sometimes your fondest memories of your Dad are of the everyday jobs. This photo of my father, taken just this past March, was one of the last I made of him at his home. He loved to ride his lawn mower and spent nearly an hour on it that day. I’m so very glad now that I stopped to catch him in this photo.

During my trips to visit my parents in recent years, I spent many late nights, after they had both gone to bed, sitting in front of the television, organizing and sliding photos into albums. Instead of putting them into chronological order, I categorized the albums into subject matter. This is something I had done with my own family’s photos.  I often can’t remember exactly what year I took the trip or when a particular event, other than a life milestone, may have happened.  I have divided and placed my photos into an album of the same subject. I can more easily find or reference it without having to go through several albums or yes, even those shoebox-size storage cartons.

I did the same for my parents.  There’s an album devoted to my mother’s family reunions, another of my Dad’s Army reunions and some with just photos from their more recent vacations.  I made a couple containing photos of just my own family taken during visits with each other and of other photos I had sent to them to keep them updated on my family’s activities and growth.  Still another album is of my Dad’s photography career and includes clippings from the newspaper as well as other mementos from his portrait studio.  We took that album, as well as the one I had assembled about his military service, to the funeral home so that those who came could look through it.  Many did.

From my parents' vacation album comes this photo of myself with them and two of my sons taken during our cruise together to Alaska.
From my parents’ vacation album comes this photo of myself with them and two of my sons taken during our cruise together to Alaska.

It’s now a popular choice to make printed books of one’s digital photos. I’ve done it myself.  In fact, I offer “Memory Books” and “Signature Albums” to both my high school senior and family clients.  It’s been a very well received product among my studio clients.  But I still make individual prints of my personal family ‘snapshots’ and I encourage others to do the same. I don’t sell digital images to my professional clients, except for business purposes.  I know many professional photographers do, but I personally regard it as a disservice to my clients.  Computer manufacturers are turning out both desk and laptop machines today that have no CD drives.

I have stored away three and five-inch floppy drives of articles, written during my career as a journalist, on a word processing program that no longer exists, on a computer operating system that no longer exists, on a computer that no longer exists.  If I hadn’t had the foresight to print out ‘hard’ copies of all those articles, I’d have no record, (other than the on-line versions) of my many contributions to the world of journalism.

Another photo from one of my parents' albums recalls a visit with his three grandsons to the place where he had grown up. There wasn't anything left of his childhood farmhouse except part of the home's rock wall. But we have it now preserved in this precious photograph.
Another photo from one of my parents’ albums recalls a visit with his three grandsons to the place where he had grown up. There wasn’t anything left of his childhood farmhouse except part of the home’s rock wall. But we have it now preserved in this precious photograph.

It’s the same with my own photographs, for both my professional and personal work.   I advise making prints of any photo that has any significant personal value to you, another reason my studio sells prints instead of digital images. I know, there’s always the ‘Cloud’.  But it wasn’t always there, nor is there any guarantee that it will always be there or in its present day form. Or that the access you have now will be same. Think of  how many times people have told you that  their computers ‘crashed’ and that they lost all their photos stored on it. (You must back-up your digital photos onto an external drive, on-line storage or even CD.)

This simple photo of my Dad, made in 2010, is one of my favorites. I took it at his home while visiting there one day when he went out to check his mailbox.
This simple photo of my Dad, made in 2010, is one of my favorites. I took it at his home while visiting there one day when he went out to check his mailbox.

To have an album full of  photos  is a treasure. I realize how much of a treasure it truly is since my father’s passing. I don’t have him this Father’s Day to wish him a happy day, or to tell him how much I love him and how much I appreciate all that he has done for me through the years.  But I can look back, turn through the pages of those albums that I now must sort through and remember the times growing up, doing things together, celebrating holidays, taking vacations, visiting relatives, sharing meals or just living everyday life.  All those priceless memories captured forever in a photo.  Thanks, Dad.