Photography vs. Snapshots
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Photography vs. Snapshots

I started an intermediate/advanced level digital photography class at our local community college last night.

As hard as it is to carve an extra three hours a week to devote to this class, I’m really glad I did (especially since come March there will be even less personal time to go around).  The first half hour of class we had to just wander around the building and campus taking pictures with the goal of getting all the technical aspects of the photos correct–exposure, composition, clarity, etc.  That task might have been a little easier if it wasn’t pitch black outside and the building wasn’t a fairly new, sterile looking college classroom building.  Not a lot of inspiration.

I wandered outside with my camera, two lenses and my Gorillapod looking for something interesting.  I took a few interesting pictures, making use of lights in the parking lot and a very low shutter speed to take in all the light I could.  The task got me thinking about my own photography–and the fact that even though I am capable of taking pretty good, technically correct pictures, sometimes with a two-year-old I just want to quickly snap a picture before he stops whatever he is doing.

Technically perfect pictures are often beautiful.  And I think as a photographer I owe it to myself to strive whenever I can to get the technical setting correct.  But most days that just isn’t what my photography is about. And it isn’t what draws me to other people’s work.  I’m willing to forgive a lot of technical problems in a picture if there is a real moment there, real emotion, a real memory being creating.  And I’m easily bored by technically perfect pictures that lack those things.

This picture is pretty technically sound–it’s in focus, composed well (rule of thirds), has good lighting.  But the real reason I love it is because it captures Bink’s excitement at running through the pumpkin patch.

It also reminded me that part of my job as a Mom is to be our memory keeper.  Could plenty of those pictures have been better composed?  Are some lacking tack sharp focus?  Do lots of them have something distracting in the background?  YES!  And that’s OK.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to take better pictures, especially of my children.  But I’m not willing to sacrifice a sweet moment between siblings or a silly face or a pose that perfectly captures Bink’s personality just because the lighting it off or my house is a mess.  When my children are grown and looking at pictures of their childhoods they won’t be judging my skills as a photographer.  They’ll be remembering the moments we captured together and the happy times those pictures represent.

This photo is a technical nightmare–and this it the edited version.  It’s grainy, not as sharp as it should be, and not composed very well.  But I love it because I’ll never forget the morning Bink decided to drag his couch onto the big couch to watch his cartoons.

My point, especially to those just starting to learn how to master their cameras, is to not be afraid to take snapshots.  The artistic macro shots I take of Bink’s hands are probably not as exciting to his Grandparents as the (technically flawed) shots of him dancing under an umbrella in his diaper.  There is simply not a comparison.

Definitely strive to improve your skills, make your photos the best you can technically when you can, and the rest of the time relax and enjoy the memories you are capturing.

Wife. Mom. Photography junkie. Join me as I try to capture motherhood through the lense of the camera.

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