#StoriesToTell – Connecting With Big Papa’s Legacy

One recent Saturday morning I woke up at 4 a.m. to pack up my photo equipment and head from Atlanta to Jones County to take sunrise photos at a site my Dad told me he used to ride his bike to in the mornings as a young boy to watch the sunrise. He said it was a site to behold. Well…directions and signs that aren’t there anymore sabotaged me getting to the right spot, but I still got a shot or two from an other vantage point. Lesson learned…next time take my Dad with me. I’ll bribe him with donuts to get up that early, lol.

Sunrise in Jones County (9 of 1)

                              “Sunrise in Jones County, GA” (2015)

My first real stop that day was at my paternal grandparents’ homesite (now affectionately called “Wiley’s Way” after years ago having undergone a renovation by my Dad, Mom, myself and others who helped us),  I got out of my car and walked around to take shots of the homesite that holds so many memories for me….

Memories of My Grandparents (1 of 1)

“Mornings on Big Mama’s Porch” – Wiley’s Way (2015)


2014-12-07 16.18.04-2

“Old Reliable” – Wiley’s Way (2015)

Feeling a presence, I looked up to see what felt to me to be a majestic winged protector of the homesite since my Dad wasn’t there that day.

Watermarked Blog Pics112

“The Sentinel” (2015)

He never felt threatening to me but he did circle back and forth looking down until he seemed to realize I was family stopping by to visit. He then glided away and left me to finish my photo shoot. I was able to capture him before he left. He was breathtaking.

I headed to the third stop on my route for the day – the homesite property of my paternal great-grandfather “Big Papa” who passed away before I was born.

Watermarked Blog Pics136

“Untitled” (2015)

I had heard stories about the property  and land where he and his second wife Mattie called home.

My Dad, Uncles and Aunts have many fond memories of growing up living or visiting there, but I had never been there myself. I knew there was history, stories and spirits of my ancestors and I had to visit and explore if I hoped to be able to do justice to his part of my #StoriesToTell project. So I pulled up in the driveway as my Dad taught me to do when I was down home when showing up uninvited –  I honked my horn twice and waited to see if someone would come to greet me. After a few minutes I kind-looking lady walked up to my car, we introduced ourselves, and as it turns out we’re both professional photographers!

Watermarked Blog Pics145

She said she’d be happy to walk around with me and share what she knows about the history and land they now call home that used to be Big Papa’s homesite. So I wait while she changes into warmer, hiking attire, and thus begins a day and experience I’ll never forget.

STT Blog Pics (15 of 1)STT Blog Pics (16 of 16)

Maryllis Wolfgang and me out hiking the property

Maryllis allowed me to audiotape our conversations as we hiked throughout the property. Although a good portion of the over 2000 acres of Big Papa’s property is still owned by family members, we covered a portion of the 120 acres that Maryllis and her husband Jim purchased. As we started our journey, she explained that unfortunately when they bought the land the buildings like the home, barns, kitchen house and others were beyond restoring for legacy purposes and they had to take them down. But she was kind enough to share photos that she’d taken before they took them down.

Watermarked Blog Pics160

Post-processed image of picture Maryllis took of the Big Papa’s main house

Maryllis and I walked throughout the property and hiked behind their home into the wooded areas she felt would be most meaningful to me, taking time along the way to pause and show me a lot of things that were still there from Big Papa’s time and even before he owned the property.

Watermarked Blog Pics110                                                                           “Untitled” (2015)

She explained what they found as they built their home and surrounding areas for horses and cattle they maintained, much as Big Papa had done. The stories, the sounds, smells, and emotions that ran through me changed me in ways I can’t do justice to in this blog.

Watermarked Blog Pics80        Watermarked Blog Pics78

           Untitled Nature & Landscape Shots – Big Papa’s Property (2015)

At one point she tells me we’ve reached the highest point on the property, where she’s always felt if my ancestors’ spirits congregated at a central point on the property, this would be where they’d gather.

Watermarked Blog Pics119

I looked around, took in the beauty, silence, warm feelings, resilience and majesty of the surroundings and couldn’t have agreed more. I can’t wait to return and spend more time there, just in that spot….





 “The Gathering Place” (2015)

The further we explored and the more photos I took, the more I felt the spirit of Big Papa and began to understand his love for and connection to the land he called home and the surrounding property he passed down to his family.

His legacy was in the flowers that still bloomed that he had planted, trees that still stood tall, weathering thunder strikes and time as a testament to his strength, wisdom and resilience.

Watermarked Blog Pics121

“Weathering the Storm” (2015)

As we returned to her house, she paused and pointed to and old, beautifully rusted hoop that still dangled from one of the trees just behind the house that we feel certain Big Papa had attached for his grandchildren’s enjoyment.

Watermarked Blog Pics82

“Playtime at Big Papa’s” (2015)

One of the highlights of the day was when Maryllis reached down out in the woods and unearthed a weathered, porous, and moss-covered piece of brick that she said was probably one of the few remaining pieces of Big Papa’s homesite buildings. She let me keep it and I’ve since had it planted in a potted arrangement that sits on my desk at work, catching the morning sunlight as the moss and plants thrive around it, the way our family thrived around Big Papa’s foundation of love, wisdom and legacy.


Big Papa

Thank you for bringing Big Papa more fully into my heart, Maryllis.

Till Next Time,


Finishing What She Started

Blog pic w logo

I have put myself “out there” with all my heart twice before in my life.  I’m undertaking this project (for now I refer to as #StoriesToTell2016) in a similar but very different way. Recently when describing what I’ve been working on now for about a year, someone whose advice I greatly appreciate told me to “get it all out of my head and onto paper,” so that’s what I’ve recently been working on completing.


My paternal grandmother (“Big Mama”) was an amazing quilt-maker. Back then she made them for her family and community out of necessity for warmth and protection but always with love. Every stitch to create the top layer, every walk to cotton fields to handpick the cotton, prepare and stretch it for nestling between her quilt tops and backs, and the tireless hours she spent quilting the layers together, was done with care and love. As she gifted her quilts to her children, and her children to their children, one day around 20 years ago I realized that I wanted to learn how to hand stitch quilts so that while my quilts may not be as beautiful as hers, I would in some way be able to carry on her craft and legacy. So I read, took classes and learned to quilt. I loved it! I have to admit, though, since I last completed a child’s quilt top a number of years ago, I haven’t sewn a stitch since then. “Life” got in the way and I forgot the pleasure I took in the quiet moments of stitching and reflecting.


Connecting with my past in another way, years ago I helped my Dad renovate his home house where he and his siblings were born and raised by Big Mama and Big Daddy. Now I’ll be the first to says I’m no lover of all things found at Home Depot, nor have I every been known to have a “green thumb” when it comes to planting or keeping plants alive, lol. However, something happened during this time I took on the many tasks helping my Dad on his home house. I found myself becoming emerged in the project, doing things I’d never done before and I must say doing a pretty darn good job at it! I did everything from wallpapering, laying border on the walls, painting the interior and exterior of the house, and planting, yes, planting! One quiet, breezy afternoon, after having painted the banister on the front porch, I was walking from the front to the back yard with my sketchbook, looking at what remained of Big Mama’s flowers and plants that she had maintained and still survived years after she’d passed away. I was sketching a layout of what flowers and plants I wanted to get from the nursery and plant and how I wanted to landscape the yard with them. I paused while looking at all the notes and sketches I’d made and wondered if I’d “bitten off more than I could chew.” I felt a breeze on my cheeks, heard the trees rustling and swaying, and I heard Big Mama’s voice softly call my name. In that moment I felt her give me her blessing, love and encouragement.


As I’m working on my ancestral project and find myself passing my hands along the tops of some of her quilts that have been passed on to me. I can feel her presence. Especially when it comes to the pieces I have of what may well have been her last quilt project that she wasn’t able to finish. I’ve started where she left off and am working on stitching the pieces together and finishing the quilt. In a similar way to when I was following in her footsteps and planting flowers and plants that I know she like to plant throughout her yard, I feel her love and encouragement. As I start to bring the project together, I feel the love and encouragement of my ancestors – many who passed before I was even born but who I have priceless photos or have heard stories about.


I have a ways to go – I have many photographs passed through generations; I have notes from countless hours spent researching my ancestral history as far back as the 17th century; I have audio tapes of stories told to me by my Dad and uncle/godfather; antique pieces of my past that will be on display or part of installation or mixed media works of art. Gathering all this together and laying out how I see it in my head as an exhibit has been the enjoyable, fulfilling part. Now comes the real work – getting funding for art restoration and exhibit preparation, booking gallery or museum space, completing the layout of how I see everything flowing in the exhibit, and all the other details and steps that are involved in putting together an exhibit of this size.

I am committed that this will culminate in 2016. I’ve made this commitment to myself, my Dad and Uncles, to Big Mama, and to all my ancestors who came before me who are waiting for me to tell their stories through my photography, ancestral photos, antiques and other artwork.


In beginning this process of hand stitching and finishing the quilt my grandmother started, I know that with each stitch, with each touch of my fingers brushing over the pieces she lovingly and tirelessly stitched by hand, she’s passing along her love to me. She approves and that means everything to me. Finishing what she started means everything.

Till Next Time,

Alisa P.

#StoriesToTell2016 #AlisaPerduePhotography

Aon Atlanta Associates Bring Smiles To Faces of Children on Global Service Day 2015

I started as a Pension Administration Project Manager at Aon Hewitt last month and so far I love my job! I’ll caveat that with “almost as much as I love being a professional photographer” (sorry, my Aon team, lol). I have to say one of the highlights so far was when I signed up to volunteer at Sheltering Arms’ Cobb County location as part of our global company’s initiative to take part in Global Service Day on Thursday, June 11th, 2015.

It was a truly special day when, in conjunction with United Way, we were allowed to assist the teachers educate, entertain and bring smiles to the faces of the children there for the day. The day was beautiful and all the children were beautiful in their own special way. I wanted to share some memories from our day that ranged from special connections to being blessed to watch one of the little boys take his first steps! The smile on his mother’s face when she came to pick him up and we told her and were able to share our pictures and video clips of the moment was priceless! I can’t wait to return one day soon.


The Secret Life of “B”s

Alisa Perdue Photography

Secret Life of Bs w logo

There are many things I can be thankful for, but I’ve decided to blog about one of the things I’ve become thankful for as a photographer – discovering “The Secret Life Of ‘B’s: Bumblebees, Butterflies and Being.” Now the first two speak for themselves, but the third? Being? When I say this I mean “Being…in the moment.”

If I have my camera around my neck it’s as if life slows down around me, within me. I see everything and everyone differently. It’s no longer about me hustling to get from “point A” to “point B” but noticing, appreciating and enjoying everything in between, before I reach my destination. Whether it’s bumblebees foraging a sunflower for pollen or a butterfly that’s been attracted to a brightly colored flower rich with nectar, capturing these moments as a photographer has helped me appreciate all the things and people around me that I would…

View original post 69 more words