The small town along the Ohio river where I grew up (Ironton, Ohio, population 11,129) isn’t well known, but it has one national claim to fame–the longest running Memorial Day parade in the country.  When I was a child I didn’t realize this; I just knew that come the last Monday in May, everyone in my town–whether 5 or 85–was either part of the parade, or one of the thousands lining the route by 8:30 a.m. Since my cousins lived closer to town, they usually saved us a spot near the Catholic church where we would meet them. Our parents sat in folding chairs talking about “parent” things, and we kids perched on the curb awaiting the start of the parade. We chattered with anticipation and listened carefully for the “rat-tat-tat” of snare drums from one of the many high school marching bands leading the way through Ironton’s tree-lined streets. As younger children, we loved the loud fire trucks blaring their sirens as they passed, the funny shirtless Shriners in cars way too small for them or gyrating their pelvises while wielding fake scimitars as they danced by, and the CANDY!! OH! The CANDY!! Every passing vehicle or marcher carried bag fulls which they hurled to bystanders. We sat poised, ready to scurry out onto the street and nab a piece of Dubble Bubble or a Jolly Rancher. The parade always ended with the horses and their riders, I guess because nobody wants to follow a group of horses…

parade pic3

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parade pic2

parade pic1

After the parade, my family would visit the graves of Granny and Papa Goydan, my mother’s parents, and place fresh flowers on their headstones. Woodland Cemetery was always covered in American flags for the Holiday, giving it a distinctive patriotic yet solemn feel. The juxtaposition of visiting a cemetery after all the fun of the parade struck me as odd back then. Not until I was much older did I understand that both events were important: the celebration and the remembrance.

Years later, my husband and I traveled to Normandy, France, and visited the American G.I. Cemetery and the beaches stormed by the Allies in WWII. Gazing upon the thousands of perfectly lined up white crosses,  I had, for the first time, a true appreciation for the phrase “the ultimate sacrifice.” I could picture in my mind young soldiers heading towards those foreboding cliffs housing machine gun nests, knowing the odds were they would not make it home alive. The cemetery was at once peaceful and haunting, yet undeniably beautiful. Not only did that experience move me to tears, it humbled me in a way I will never forget.

As an adult, I sometimes miss those simpler days and times of my youth. I didn’t understand the true meaning of Memorial Day; to me it was all about fun, good times, and a day off from school. What I’ve come to realize is we need both the parade and the cemetery–the celebration of what we have combined with an appreciation for those who made ours lives and our freedoms possible. Happy Memorial Day.

IMG_1975American G.I. Cemetery

IMG_1974Pont du Hoc, place of Allied Invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944


2 Responses

  1. Melanie

    enjoyed reading your Memorial Day blog post so much! Your images are lovely, what great memories.

  2. Beverly Williams

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!

I recently attended the annual Professional Photographers of America convention known as Imaging USA. This 3-day convention draws over 12,000 photographers from all over the country and even the world.  Besides the opportunities to network with other photographers, attendees can take classes and hear platform speeches on topics varying from lighting to posing to better business practices.


I’ve noticed a common theme at meetings such as these as well as on online photography forums: Maintaining the quality of professional photography. Back in the “day,” (read–prior to digital photography) it took much more than a decent camera and a “good eye” to be a professional photographer. Most film photographers studied photography in college and probably did apprentice-type work with an established photographer. They learned all the science behind image-making, and had the opportunity to use that science in the darkroom. In my home town (granted, it is a small town) there were only three photographers when I was growing up, and even if I counted those in neighboring towns I doubt there were more than 2 dozen making their living through photography in a 30-mile radius.


That all changed with the advent of digital photography. For the first time, we could actually see what the camera was doing during the image-producing process and impose adjustments as necessary. This was in many regards a revolution in the photography industry–making good photography available to almost anyone who could afford an SLR digital camera and a decent lens. What has happened in the decades since is an explosion in the number of people calling themselves photographers. I was among them. Although I started with a film camera and learned the basics, I did not have formal photography instruction in film. I got my first digital camera in 2005 and almost immediately found myself with photography “jobs”: prom pictures, family portraits, even a wedding! I learned as I went but truly felt out of my league. I decided early on to get more education and that is the path I have continued to follow to this day. I have attended numerous workshops, conventions, and photography schools and have studied with some of the industry-recognized best photographers in the world. I am currently working towards my Master’s degree in photography as well. I’ll keep you updated on my progress…


It is an exciting time to be a photographer, but it is certainly not an easy time.  The market is flooded with photographers, and in order to stand out, it is essential to raise the bar on quality and differentiate yourself. For that reason, I set a 2015 goal to get my CPP degree, that is a “Certified Professional Photographer.” It’s much akin to a CPA for an accountant. To get a CPP, I took a 3-day intensive course–basically a semester of college, joined nightly study sessions, and took a 100-question exam. I’m happy to say I passed the exam with flying colors! The next step is image submission and review, which I will do in the coming months.


Boulay Photography has also expanded our offerings and added a Fine Art line of portraiture paintings. I wish you could touch the screen and truly feel these! Not only are they digitally painted, there is actual acrylic applied to them to give them the look and feel of a fine art painting. These have been very popular with both families and high school seniors. Here are a couple of examples:




2015-02-11_0002If you would like to have your own family heirloom, give us a call: 615-289-6045 or email me at We are booking into the summer and fall right now for both senior portraits and family sessions. I look forward to hearing from you.





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