To go down in history typically requires being in the right war at the right time, winning a few elections or inventing a gadget that changes the world.
Unless you happen to live in Flossmoor.
Flossmoor residents and businesses can become part of local history by posing for a photo.
Thomas Photographic Services is doing for Flossmoor what it did recently for Homewood — creating a yearbook for the community, a way to capture for posterity the people and places of Flossmoor in 2015.
“It’s a service to history,” said Angela Thomas, co-owner of the business with her husband, Colin.
The community yearbook idea came to Colin several years ago as he was on a long February walk, noticing places where people he knew had once lived.
“I have such a history with the town. I’m fifth generation,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have something to look at to remind myself of the people and the relationships that I’ve built throughout the years?’ A town yearbook would be really cool.”
Not long after that, he ran into Homewood Historical Society President Jim Wright, who he said strongly encouraged him to pursue the idea, and the Homewood Project began to gain momentum.
Thomas said the historical society really values photos that are well-documented.
“They have all these pictures throughout history of people standing in front of houses with no names,” he said. “Who are these people? Why are they important?”
The first Homewood Project book, published in 2011, had about 150 photos. Because the Thomases were thinking about the historical record as their primary purpose they printed only a handful of copies and gave them to the historical society, the village and Homewood Public Library.
But when people saw the finished product, they often wanted their own copies, so the Thomases launched the second Homewood Project in 2013. Copies of that book, which include nearly 100 photos, can still be purchased.
The Thomases plan to do another Homewood Project book in 2020.
But now it is Flossmoor’s turn to capture the moment.
Angela said families typically pose in front of their homes. Businesses and organizations often do, too, but sometimes it’s more practical to take inside shots with larger groups.
Colin said the front-of-the-house shot fits in the long tradition of family portraits.
“You look at all those (old) pictures, the front yard is always the immaculate part of the house, so everybody would always take their pictures at the front of the house,” he said.
Using the same basic shot doesn’t mean all the photos look the same. Each family is different, and some like to add a little flair of their own, jumping in the air, sitting in lawn chairs, posing on bicycles and other personal touches.
Colin said one family even portrayed a little story.
“The daughter was moving out, so we have one daughter playing the sax, and the sister is pulling a piece of luggage, and the parents are huddled together like ‘Oh no, our baby’s grown up,'” he said.
People often want their pets in the photo with them, and the Thomases encourage that. They also urge people to have vehicles in the drive.
“Cars are one of the best markers of time,” Colin said.
House numbers, street names and vehicle license plate numbers are given to the historical society to keep as part of its records, but that information is erased from the published photos to protect people’s privacy.
The cost to participate is $25, but the Thomases said that just covers their overhead for the session and to provide each subject with a 4 by 6 print of their photo.
The two villages have been very supportive of the project, they said. To keep the photo session fee low, the Thomases have a budget for marketing, so the villages have helped spread the word via newsletters and email notices.
To set up an appointment for a photo session, call 708-960-4265 Wednesday through Sunday.
The price for the yearbook is $75 for orders placed before July 31. After that, the price will be $89.
The Thomases encouraged Flossmoor residents to sign up soon if they wish to participate, especially if they hope to be able to show off their front lawns and gardens. The project will end Dec. 31.
It’s probably the easiest way there is to go down in history.
Contact Eric Crump at [email protected]
Thomas Photographic Services