There was a time, before the advent of smartphones and DSLRs, when we used to preserve our special moments in family albums. Reliving these bygone times and exploring multiple cities, towns, and rural communities, through forgotten yet delicately preserved photo collections, is ‘Family Pictures USA’. This PBS show attempts to unearth some of the richest personal tales that enhance our knowledge about history, diversity, and culture. Entwining history with mystery, the 3-part series delves into the past of people and the places they live in.
Family Pictures USA Cast: Who is in it?
Thomas Allen Harris is credited as the host, director, creator (alongside Don Perry, Harris’ life partner), and executive producer for ‘Family Pictures USA’. Harris is a filmmaker and artist, who is well-recognized for the sensitive subject matters that he approaches through his films, videos, photography, and performances. He explores humanity via unraveling identity, family backgrounds, and spirituality. Also a talented writer, he graduated from Harvard College and the Whitney Independent Study Program. Harris has delivered multiple lectures about media and its contributions toward social change. Some of the topics covered in his sessions include media arts, visual literacy, and personal archiving.
Some of Harris’ critically acclaimed films include ‘VINTAGE- Families of Value’, ‘That’s My Face’,’ and ‘Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela’. Other notable movies like ‘Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers’ and ‘Emergence of a People’ received Peabody and Emmy nominations. The African American filmmaker’s short movie, ‘About Face: The Evolution of a Black Producer’, debuted on World AIDS Day 2017.
His rich experience in revealing stories from family photo albums and narrating personal tales through images makes him the ideal host for the show.
Family Pictures USA Plot: What is it about?
‘Family Pictures USA’ chronicles the evolving social landscape of America by re-visiting our understanding of family albums. Harris travels from the streets of Detroit to the shores of Southwest Florida and the rural farms of North Carolina to explore how these image collections form an inevitable aspect of our culture and history. Across the episodes, we witness how featured individuals reconnect with their long-lost relatives and old friends, thereby, taking a step forward toward creating an all-inclusive National Family Album.
Each episode begins with a community photo-sharing event, where participants retrieve pictures stashed away in dusty boxes, unused floppy disks, or unexplored corners of their homes. Harris then starts a conversation, encouraging the featured individuals to share their tales of hardship, perseverance, and love. The episode then unfolds further to highlight the communities they live in — so as to expand the narration to the entire region and locality.