Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sweet Shots Forever

I'll admit to being a little more than camera happy.  My poor kids have confided that they feel their every breath is documented for posterity (my DD loves it, my DS tolerates it).  Routinely friends from the community will say, "I almost didn't recognize you without your camera!"  My first Canon DSLR was a splurge thanks to a very generous holiday bonus from my boss 5 years ago. I've been obsessively using it with moderate creativity ever since.  I take pictures (just as a hobby) of my family, friends, events, and for the elementary school yearbook.  I have no off-switch and tend to just like my own pictures better than the ultra posed professional ones. 

Photography is a cherished medium to me.  My mom has taken pictures for years, and as a child I looked through our photo albums for hours.  I love that 20 people can be at the same place and every picture, every angle, every perspective is captured differently.  I love looking through other photographers pictures of the same event.  I love seeing a glimpse of life through their eyes.  It feels like one of the only concrete ways to literally walk in their shoes.  I particularly adore these glimpses when they come from my kids.  I can't wait to look through their pictures from a vacation and see what they find interesting, or funny, what they love, their view of me, my DH, and each other.

My style of photography has always been kind of intimate (I often hold the camera myself and take those pictures where our heads are super close and our faces fill the entire frame - and then wonder how we get lice).  I've been blessed with kids that smile easily.  I've owned a zoom for years but rarely use it and never quite articulated why.  I simply knew that I found it a little cumbersome and when I look back on the pictures, they are never my favorites.  Occasionally I bring it to baseball or soccer games.  I used it a couple of times on vacation to get a close-up of a mountain goat on a cliff or see if that blob of brown in the distance really is a grizzly, but other than that, it never leaves my camera bag.  I have DFs who use their zooms all the time and I love the way that their pictures turn out.  It has just never been me.  

Saturday I went to the most amazing photography class with a DF (said with a tinge of melancholy because another DF that I haven't seen in YEARS was supposed to come as well but couldn't because her child got sick - sometimes putting ourselves last as parents really sucks).  Anyway, it was a class specifically taught on how to best use my beloved SLR while photographing children.

Sweet Shots with Amy Tripple gave me the cliche' Oprah "Ah Ha" Pause, and not just because she is my friend.  In fact, I think it is harder for a friend to ignite life-changing insight than a stranger.  She plainly explained some things in her class that I kind of knew but didn't fully understand and other things that I didn't know at all.  She was clear and witty (and endearingly self-deprecating), but most importantly, after being in her class I've embraced a certain personal style that was nearly there but not quite solidified.   

Amy encouraged the class to obtain a prime/fixed lens.  It went against my instinct to get a lens that doesn't even have the option to zoom.  The SLR and the class are expensive so I was really leery to spend even more money.  I bought the cheapest one that I could find.  I absolutely love it.  I may never put back on another lens again! I feel like the pictures I am capturing are real and genuine and it is how I am interacting with life.  Although I may physically not be in the picture, it is the smile that my kids are specifically giving to me.  I am not capturing the experience from a distance, I'm right in the middle of it. It is as close to the reality of the moment as possible for me-- only with a extra little fuzzy background and some well placed borders. 

Many thanks to you my DF Amy!  
I have a whole new enthusiasm for documenting happy memories again.

View of the World - My DD says this is them looking down on the world together. Not a posed photo, just a moment that was sweet and I never want to forget

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