Ever have one of those weeks that you thought was going to be slow and easy and full of free time and turned out to be anything but slow and easy and full of free time? Yeah.
I've made some progress with all those pictures but have a ways to go yet and a lot of this week to live yet...
but oh so many great things are happening!
So for now, here's a couple of my favorite pics of my favorite kids...
I just transferred 1,064 pictures to my computer. Oh my. The kids and I returned yesterday from a fun, restful week at my sisters and I should post some of those photos and tell you about it but that number is a little daunting at the moment. And Tristan wants to read Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and the girls have invited me to quite the elaborate tea party in their room, and we were thinking of visiting the bookstore this afternoon... Besides, Christie summed it up so perfectly over here today.
I'll get back to the photos after a bit of rest -true rest.
Summertime is approaching and your calendar is already filling with family vacations, weddings, July 4th celebrations and so many other quintessential events of the season. Now, think ahead for a moment to September. During those quieter post-back-to-school days you will finally unload full memory cards and perhaps create photo albums. Will that stream of photos tell the story of your whole summer?
You captured the vacation, the birthday party, the graduation, yes, but what about that day your five-year-old brought you a handful of worms she dug out of the garden? Did you catch her proud, earth-smudged smile? How about a shot of your son carrying his teetering pile of books out of the library? He was so excited to have his own library card and all those books to read. Didn't your heart swell with pride? Remember that? And you created works of art at the dinner table night after hot summer's night with all that colorful farmer's market produce. Where are the pictures of all that pretty food?
My point is, the story of your summer will happen every day and in between the vacations and parties and events that take up all that calendar space. Pictures can tell the whole story without ever requiring a thesaurus or spell-check (thank goodness), but if you forget to notice the many small moments in your days that are so very largely summer, your story will be incomplete.
This summer, I plan to record every chapter of our family story, in all of its muddy, messy, ordinariness. I challenge you to do the same.
So, where to begin? First, you need to shift your thinking when it comes to what you plan to photograph. When you are intentional about documenting the everyday, you are grabbing a camera as you head out for ice cream or for an hour at the park. You'll know you've successfully made the shift when you find yourself carrying that camera into the grocery store or snapping photos of sandal-clad feet dangling from the dentist chair! And this is when it really gets fun. This is when you begin to see the world around you in a completely new way. You will habitually frame your surroundings into photos, pinning them up on the walls of your brain long before you take them. All those lazy summer afternoons when you didn't do a thing become the hours you cherish most when you look back and see just how much really happened.
What are we looking for? Well, have you ever noticed how early and how bright the sun shines on a clear summer morning? Do you pay attention to the shadows falling across your breakfast table, the rainbows cast by your water glass? (Try it and you might get some great shots in the camera before your kids are even out of bed!) Slow down, adjust your point of view, and be intentional. It's these simple things that make all the difference. After all, it's the simple joys of summer that you are trying to capture. Don't wait for photo-worthy moments to happen -- seek them out, create them, and be ready for them.
Without getting into loads of technical details that you can find more than enough of elsewhere, I will just offer these few things. First, I have to admit that I am a wide-angle zoom addict (I want to get it all in!), but when it comes to really noticing and capturing details that tell a story, you've got to get in close. I'm using my 50mm lens more often lately because it forces me to move around, fight for great composition, and concentrate my focus (not to mention capturing all that sparkly sunshiny bokeh!) Second, manual mode is a must. Bright sunshine, reflective water, fast-moving kids -- these are all things that come to mind when you think summer, right? Well, these are also some of the very things that trick our camera's auto settings into blowing out dramatic skies or casting shadows over smiling faces. You are smarter than your camera. You are! You have to be the one telling it what to do.
My final suggestion: Give yourself an assignment. Decide to take pictures for a week based on a particular summer theme, such as water, play, fruit, or the color green. The possibilities are endless and a single word can spark a million photographs. After a week, choose your favorite shot and then choose a new topic. Better still, you can join one of the many online groups that post a weekly topic for you. Your skills will grow as you seek to interpret the themes and you will be amazed by what others come up with.
I'm looking ahead to September again, and I see a photo album coming alive. I see pictures that make my mouth water for tomatoes and basil. My skin prickles at the memory of baking sunshine and scratchy grass. I can hear, clear as day, children giggling in a summer sunshower, and sleepy whispers under the stars. I breathe deep at the thought of tangled hair smelling of sunscreen. I don't just remember summer, I relive it, and it is beautiful.
They let me sleep in while they made mother's day cards (a colorful picture of myself in a rainbow dress from Kenna, people flying fighter kites under an orange tree from Tristan, a purple squiggle from Kate). I walked into the kitchen after showering without one single interruption to find an actual orange tree sitting on the table -just the thing I've been hoping to plant in my sunny Florida backyard. We went to church where Katie snuggled on my shoulder and sang praise songs in my ear. We had a quiet afternoon and a scenic drive and frozen yogurt. And Kenna wore her "my Dad is the coolest" t-shirt. Because he is, but they make me feel pretty special too.
It was costume day for Kenna. I put that outfit on her and let her go till it was her turn for class pictures. She hopped, skipped, twirled, and posed for a good half hour without me ever saying a word. I just watched and clicked.
So I get it now- how to get great portraits of little girls who have grown overly accustomed to mom's camera. Give them a new, sparkly, dancing dress and set them loose. You will capture more sweet happiness than your camera (and heart) could ever hold.
I'll be unplugging for a few days while we attend a Classical Conversations practicum down at the beach. I'm looking forward to three days of learning and fellowship with other moms, and the kids are pretty excited about their own camps and the hotel pool. Mostly the pool. Be back this weekend to tell you all about it! (assuming I haven't gone insane after two nights alone in a hotel room with my kids...)
A photographer may rarely appear in her own pictures, but sometimes the things we photograph say more about us than any long-armed snapshot ever could.
So I've had this picture sitting in my flickr stream and in an empty blog draft for a while now. I just couldn't seem to put words to the emotion I felt when I first sat staring at the blurred lines, jumbled lights, all that darkness. Looking at this random, nothing-special snapshot, I felt something I couldn't explain.
So imagine my surprise when, through yet another beautiful and honest word-snapshot of her own days, Christie gave it a voice. She has a gift for sharing personal experiences in a way that reveals universal truths of life and faith. The picture, the feelings, the questions, the prayer...read it all HERE.