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By Katie Thurmes, Co-founder Of Artifact Uprising
Six years ago, on an idle Tuesday while sitting in traffic, we listened to an NPR radio story that would forever shift the way we think about the work we do at Artifact Uprising. That “we” was my sister Jenna and her husband Matty and that “work” – though not yet fully formed – would become the company you see today. At the time, we were professional photographers. Our day jobs were spent making permanence of the life events that move minds and hearts (see also: weddings, births...you know – the good stuff.) But permanence as we knew it – in the way we share, store and print photographs – was ever shifting. And the radio story? It tackled this notion of fleeting legacy head on.
The radio story followed a group of scientists who were faced with new challenges in the digital era: What was once stacks of handwritten notes stored neatly in file folders had turned to the digital documentation of their work – information that was slowly fragmenting itself across the cloud. The concern? Key pieces of research were getting lost in this digital handshake between scientists – disrupting a researcher’s ability to pick up where another had left off. End story.
Meanwhile, the three of us basement-dreaming-photographers had a light bulb moment. The radio pieced moved us – and deeply so. You see, at the time, the photography landscape was also changing – and fast. We watched as the world transitioned from film to digital photography, and we celebrated the introduction of the iPhone. We adopted social media platforms and praised this newly shared visual world. Yet print – and the tangible legacy it carries on from one generation to the next – was changing too. What was once that art of printing doubles or gathering around a photo album at the dinner table had turned to digital high fives. And scrolling replaced the flipping of a page.
And so Artifact Uprising was born.
We took a space we were intimate with as photographers – and found a way, with your support, to deliver a product reflective of the pause we hoped to create. Driven by a mission to move stories off your device and into your life, we ideated and prototyped with unrelenting passion until landing on the photo books and prints you see today, goods that matched the quality we felt everyone’s photographs deserved.
In the years that have followed, I’m often asked about how the Artifact Uprising name came to be. Only in listening to that radio piece did we find the bravery to land on a name that simply put, means something. And so, despite what – at the time – felt like the makings of not-so-amazing-google-search-results, we put a stake in the ground with a company name that begged of the world to take our hundreds, or thousands, of digital photos and give them new relevance.
In other words, we set out to ensure our future selves would write a different answer when asked “What are we leaving behind?”
It is my hope for my children and my children’s children, and their children to know and see...really see...where they came from. I hope they recognize, through photographs, the same smiles that connect past to present. I hope they find a license to adventure by glimpsing into the frontiers once paved by those they love most. I wish for them to see the imperfect and unscripted moments of our time, only to realize that missteps are a part of the journey. And I hope this visual collection, spanning from tiny feet to wrinkled hands, fosters gratitude for all that has come before and all that is yet to be.
Take the time – 20 minutes even – to dig up your recent past. Look back even three or four years ago and see just who and what came to shape you: the people, the faces and places that make life meaningful. And then print them out – and share them.
If you’re like me, you’ll walk away from those 20 minutes with a renewed sense of gratitude. You’ll come to realize your best photos are not meant to bleed one into the other, or to collect dust in abandoned & cracked phones or outdated hard drives. Our photos are tangible reminders of the legacy we are each living and hope to leave behind.
Thank you for being part of the uprising.
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Katie Thurmes got her start in storytelling – working as a professional photographer alongside sister Jenna before the two founded Artifact Uprising in 2012. It is through her time behind the lens that Katie grew driven to make permanence of the experiences that move minds and hearts. Today, she remains deeply passionate to see that our stories live on in tactile and meaningful ways.