Are you one of those people who hauls their “good” camera out during special occasions? Birthdays, holidays, graduations, weddings? Is your hard drive full of images of the kids blowing out birthday candles, the day your brought the new puppy home, and the first days of school? That used to be me too. My camera used to only see the light of day during special occasions, spending the rest of the time sitting on a shelf collecting dust, waiting for the next birthday party.
Well, not anymore. These days my camera goes with me almost everywhere. And if I don’t have my “good” camera with me, I always have my iphone. I no longer wait until special occasions to take pictures. I take pictures during the common, routine, ordinary moments. Because those are the moments that are certain to vanish the quickest but they are the moments that add up to become Life. They are the moments I want to remember after the kids are off on their own and life has morphed into something completely different. Those are the moments that I will miss.
Last year I joined a small group of fellow photographers in a project to document just those kinds of moments. We call it, “What ______ Looks Like”, and each month we fill in the blank with whatever we want. For me the blank has been filled in with things like “mornings“, “life with boys“, “getting ready for Homecoming”, “a Sunday afternoon hike”, “date night with Mom“, and “a family day at the beach”. Common, routine, and ordinary, huh? Exactly.
If you’re new to this idea, I’ve put together a few tips to get you started documenting the everyday, ordinary moments of your own lives.
1. Pretend to be a fly on the wall
The camera and photographer should never be a distraction to what is happening in the moment (if at all possible). You should try your best to blend in with the drapes. This means you should never, EVER, ask anyone in the moment to look at the camera and smile!!! It’s totally OK if nobody in the image is looking at the camera. In fact, it’s more ideal if they aren’t because really, how many of us go through life giving each other cheesy grins during the everyday ordinary moments?
2. Remember the details
One of my sons is very particular about how he wears his hair. His bangs have to go up “just so” and I wanted to remember that so I documented it with my camera. My sister came over the afternoon of Homecoming to help my daughter with her hair and to lend her a pair of earrings. I wanted to remember that so I documented it with my camera. For the past two years the kids have been having toaster waffles for breakfast. It’s been part of their typical, everyday routine that I wanted to remember so guess what. I documented it with my camera. Don’t forget the details!
3. Don’t be afraid to “Be Real”
Life isn’t always pretty and camera worthy. The house isn’t always perfectly clean and the kids don’t always match. But that’s real life. And it’s completely worthy of documenting. As much as it kills me everytime I step foot into my daughter’s room, the fact is, it’s usually a disaster but that’s part of who she is right now and I want to remember that. And it’s true. My kids spend way too much time playing video games. It’s documented. Be real!
And I don’t mean pick your favorite kid and take more pictures of him than the others. I mean document your family’s favorite things. My youngest has been Darth Vader for the past 3 Halloweens. In fact, he used to wear his costume so often that I wouldn’t give it a second thought if he hopped in the car wearing it on the way to running errands. He and his brother also love all things Legos. Last summer, my boys got the crazy idea of launching our huge canoe into our smallish swimming pool last summer. My oldest son got a BB gun when we lived in Idaho and he loves to target practice into the hills behind our house.
Document the favorites before they become a vague memory.
I hope I’ve inspired you to dust off your “good camera” or even remember to pull out your iphone more often and document life as it happens, the good, the bad, and the ordinary.
WOW – Wendy’s amazing, isn’t she???
What great advice!! One of my goals for 2012 is to get my camera out and snap more shots of my family. I love Wendy’s talent for bringing the extraordinary elements out of everyday moments –
Aren’t I lucky to have Wendy as a sister — she’s amazing.
If you want to improve your photography, be sure to follow along with Wenderful!
And if you are in the Bay Area and want some fabulous lifestyle pictures of your family, see if you can get on Wendy’s list.
Have a Great Day!