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Photographer Catherine Panebianco: ‘These are my family pictures, but they’re every family’s story’

Her father’s Christmas Day tradition of showing his old slides to the family inspired Panebianco’s award-winning series, which connects tender memorie

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Her father’s Christmas Day tradition of showing his old slides to the family inspired Panebianco’s award-winning series, which connects tender memories to the present

When US photographer Catherine Panebianco was a child, her family moved around North America a lot: by the time she entered high school she had had maybe 10 different homes – “in Pennsylvania, Georgia, a couple places in California, two places in New York…”. One constant, though, was a set of photographic slides. Her father, Glenn, a metallurgical engineer, had taken the pictures when he was a young man in Toronto during the 1950s and 60s. On Christmas Day each year, wherever they were, Glenn would lug out a hulking, prewar metal projector and set up an old slide screen. The family would then gather round, the children in pyjamas with a bag of popcorn, and listen to stories they had heard “a bazillion times”.

I wanted my hand to be in there… it links the series and I wanted my past and present to be physically linked

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