Here’s the way most of the world once worked. Geography, limited transportation, natural resource constraints, technology levels, familial expectation, and financial opportunities conspired to enforce the common practice that trade skills were handed down from one generation to another. Your father was a Sumerian who worked the fertile soil north of the Persian Gulf? You became a farmer and spent your life doing the same thing, as your children would. Your father was a Roman coal digger in second century Britain? You became one, too. Your father and grandfather were furniture makers in nineteenth century Innsbruck, Austria? Well, that meant you were sweeping up the shop sawdust from age four, the beginning of a long apprenticeship until you yourself built furniture alongside your aging mentors.
The Industrial Revolution changed all that, and intergenerational careers are rare today, especially compared to almost mandatory sentences they once commanded. When we find examples of a father passing a passion for a trade down to son, it is largely because of that: passion. This is the case with Paul Aresu, who boasts both a father and a grandfather as professional photographers. (more…)