i assumed the role of family historian at an early age, carting around an old camera with a flip top that I held down around my belly button so i could look, focus, and snap. then came the adorable little brownie camera with the big silver flash compartment, followed by the instamatic with the flash cubes. eventually came the nikon compact digital camera (which by today’s terms, wasn’t actually all that compact), and so on through the ages till i arrived at the iphone 4 and the fabled photography community called instagram where i travel around the world several times a day.
as a young girl, i photographed friends, family, and pets – the black and white photos now curled around the edges and fading into lighter shades of gray. when i became a mother, i snapped photos and videos of the children – enough to keep us in laughter and tears for decades to come.
now i find that i’m more interested in snapping my surroundings, clicking on the run and over my shoulder and on the spot because clouds and trees and water and such don’t wait for me to frame, focus, and shoot. i can’t line them up and stage the shot. i am seeing my world differently, slowing down to appreciate – deeply appreciate, i’m talking about down to the cellular level – the beauty that wraps itself around me constantly.
sometimes i peep through the lens and am surprised by what i see . . .
of late, i am smitten with the macro lens, finding that just like people, so many things are beautiful to look at, but spend a little time and get close enough to see them as individuals, and their uniqueness, their specialness will take your breath away . . .
photography opens doors for me . . .
gives me time and space to reflect, sometimes allowing me to see above and below at the same time . . .
sometimes the reflection bounces off of something else, like – oh – say a windshield . . .
my grandcats are even cuter . . .
and while grocery store roses may not smell, they delight just the same . . .
sometimes i see things differently when they are in relation to something out of the ordinary . . .
the most banal things make me smile . . .
the most familiar things that i see every day become new and unexpectedly delightful . . .
and sometimes nature just takes my words away, leaving me with nothing to do but stop and applaud . . .
I find it a hard balance sometimes, to find the right place to hover between thinking so much about capturing the moment with my photography that I miss living in it, and enjoying the moment so much I miss my chance to seal it in my memory. But I do love photography for all its possibilities and promises (and I have a sneaking fondness for macro, too!).
sugar, i think you hit the nail on the head for me. you said what i was skirting around saying (not quite getting there after a l-o-n-g day on the road, juggling far too many crises): photography is helping me learn to be in the moment. to pause, look, and snap in the moment. i know from trying to photograph clouds, especially, that if i get too much into thinking about the shot, into imagining what i will do with it and where it will go once it leaves my camera, well the next thing i know, it’s clear blue and sunny!
Maeve and Jeanne, I think you’ve just sparked an epiphany, or something like one, anyway: what if photography isn’t either a way to “capture” a moment (which we can never fully do) or step outside of it as unfeeling, “objective” documentarian, but instead it’s potentially a way to more fully experience it?
Ooh yes, what a perfect way of putting it!
you are so right, sugar. a way to “more fully experience it” – yes. YES!
takes me back to my thesis, too, to the study of, the investigation of autoethnography. your epiphany fits there, too. SAH-weet.