8:00am

Fri June 17, 2011
The Picture Show

A Family Portrait 30 Years In The Making

Today, photographer Diego Goldberg will be taking a family portrait ... of sorts. More accurately, he will be adding to a family portrait that has been more than 30 years in the making. Every year on June 17 — that's his anniversary with his wife — Goldberg takes a portrait of everyone in his family, and adds it to this project:

It's called "The Arrow of Time," and it's pretty simple. There are no formal preparations, so the photos reflect the way each person looked on that day. There is no fancy equipment either. Goldberg uses his Nikon — at first he used film, but now he shoots with digital — to take the pictures. It's striking that Goldberg, a renowned photojournalist, is most well-known for a piece that pretty much anybody could arguably do. "That has been the main surprise," he writes in an email. "Even if everybody has a camera, and anybody can do it, nobody thought of such a simple idea." But, he adds, "sometimes the simplest ideas are the best."

The response to these portraits over the years has been overwhelming. The series has gone viral on blogs and been featured in publications including The New York Times Magazine, Der Spiegel and The Independent on Sunday. Diego says he gets mail every day from all over the world, and viewers express one of two things: " 'I will do it when I form a family' or 'How come I didn't think of it?' "

In response to those interested in starting their own family photo project, Diego says: "Find your own angle and stick to it. ... After a couple of years you'll see it was worth the effort."

Goldberg lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Two of his sons have started their own portrait projects too. You can find their family portraits — soon to be updated — along with Diego's ongoing project, on his website.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.