I first began this project ten years ago when my parents died, and I inherited the documents, snapshots, and ephemera they had valued and carefully stored away. I wanted to put the puzzle of my own first years together in some meaningful way, and since I am a photographer, it seemed natural to think of doing a memoir by way of photographs rather than writing.

I re-photographed snapshots, ephemera and documents and attempted to layer them into the sort of images that had been floating in my imagination for some time. But I was trying to do these things in the darkroom, and after several months, I knew I couldn’t realize my vision in that way.

Time passed–ten years, in fact. I had slowly been acquiring basic proficiency with Photoshop through workshops and manuals. But there was always too much else to do, and I felt I had to clear the decks and focus on this project alone. That opportunity came when I had shoulder surgery in 2007–a surgery that limited the movement of my right arm for about six months. I couldn’t use a camera, but I could scan images and work on the computer.

Work on the project became all-consuming. Things fell together. I dreamed images and made sketches in the middle of the night. I read histories of the war and autobiographies and novels about personal journeys–psychological and real–that the war enforced. This project is a journey back to those years–so I can go forward.

A Family Story, 1941–47