We never had much artwork in our home. The visual centerpiece of our living room was a symmetrical arrangement of three framed photographs: my parents’ hand oiled color wedding portrait in the center, flanked by the black and white high school graduation photos of me and my younger brother Robert.
My parents, Carmella and Anthony Racioppo, displayed this same wedding portrait in each of their three Brooklyn apartments. I grew up seeing it every day. As I learned about photography, I realized what a good photograph it was: a professionally lighted studio portrait taken with a Century view camera. The 8 X 10 inch black and white negative was printed unto 14 X 18 inch paper and then hand-oiled in color.
One day when I was about thirty years old, my father pointed to the wedding photo and said “When your Mom and I die, I want you to have this.”
I’ve had the photograph since 2013.
Throughout my career, I’ve photographed family gatherings at my parents’ apartment. As I was choosing photographs for BROOKLYN BEFORE, my 2019 book about pre-gentrified South Brooklyn, I was pleasantly surprised by how often my parents’ wedding photo appeared in my photographs.
In 1980 my parents moved from Sunset Park to 18th Street in the South Slope. The wedding photo was now a solo act, first in the bedroom, then in the dining room.
After his death in 2013, my parents’ wedding photograph had a place of honor next to my dad’s coffin.
After his burial, I received some of my father’s belongings, including his wallet with two photos under clear plastic.
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