Does life seem to run circles around you sometimes? I feel like the world wants me to spin in circles and perform; to always look toward the next thing or even better, look to something that isn't real. Our culture is so music, movies, TV, work, image, driven that it doesn't realize what it's missing. Then one day they wake up and realize that they don't have any time left to do the things that really matter.
But It Was Summer I Wanted - by a 14 year old girl
"It was spring but it was summer I wanted
the warm days and the great outdoors,
It was summer but it was fall I wanted;
the colorful leaves and the cool dry air.
It was fall but it was winter I wanted;
the beautiful snow and the joy of the holiday season.
It was now winter but it was spring I wanted;
the warmth and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child but it was adulthood I wanted;
the freedom and respect.
I was twenty but it was thirty I wanted;
to be mature and sophisticated.
I was middle-aged but it was twenty I wanted;
the youth and the free spirit.
I was retired but it was middle-age I wanted;
the presence of mind without limitations.
My life was over but I never got
what I wanted."
As a high school senior I have been doing a lot of thinking about what happens next. Do I know what I want? Maybe a better question would be that of "Do I know what the Lord wants me to do?" People tell me I'm talented all the time and they expect me to go places. What place am I trying to reach though? Over the last 17 years of my life I have learned to love to learn. School was FUN. I can't tell you how much that helped me throughout highschool. Even in the longest driest assignments I could find a little some that was interesting and all I had to do was follow my curiosity to enjoyment.
Since I loved school I did well. The more curious I was + how competitive I was feeling that day = my grade on the assignment. I've gotten As for as long as I can remember...until the second semester last year. I was taking British Literature with the hardest teacher at our homeschool co-op and it was definitely a college prep course. Lots of reading, outlines, papers, vocabulary, and worksheets due every week. Last year was the year I learned that that thing called discipline actually was important and that procrastination was your worst enemy. That doesn't mean I was diligent or didn't procrastinate. It means I learned some things the hard way. I got a B in the class and was pretty beat up over it. (I've got a pride issue with that you see). Anyways, that was the most stressful semester of my life so far. Why? No it wasn't the enormous amount of school work, or lack of sleep.
It was the expectations.
I learned to love to learn, so when I did my school I was doing it to learn, do you follow? I did it because I wanted to, I was curious and the grades didn't matter (especially because I am homeschooled). Now I had performed so well that people thought I was this really smart kid and I could feel little kids and parents looking up at me. Teachers looking straight at me and most peers looking down at me. They were expecting the best, which is good because I would give my best then. But the grades started scaring me.
What it I didn't get and A? I started performing and it was terrible. Instead of enjoying a book and writing what I thought I would freak out and tell myself "I don't have any opinions! How can I write this?" It took all the fun out of school. It became routine instead of a new body of knowledge. I missed a lot because of my perspective. I didn't retain nearly as much information and you know what that means, having to study a lot for tests instead of just writing in the answers because this is what you taught and you remembered it because you truly learned it. Uggh. Anyway...
The reason I got into all of this is because it relates to my perspective on photos recently. I love photography. Not so much the mechanics, but the end product. When you see a good image it makes you feel something, it tells a story, and it makes you remember. When I first picked up a camera it was "Oh cool! Take pictures! then I started to fall in love with certain images because the colors and/or focus just made me happy or the thing the picture was of made me happy. Then I took classes and got all technical. I would see and image and think "Wow. That composition is perfect; the white balance is stunning. Look at that pose!" Then my eye grew and my heart grew and I started to see that a perfect picture of a pair of shoes just wasn't cutting it. Those images that really made you laugh and dance and cry were the good images. Pictures were no longer photos of things but images that captured emotions and let them go inside the person who saw the photo. That is what I wanted to do.
Then I started shooting people for tips. Don't get me wrong it is still great, I love the practice. I'm still getting "As" as it were, but my perspective got whacked out. I'm charging these people anything, but I felt like if I messed up at all I wasn't even worth tips and that I'd be letting them down. Well, the pressure didn't help my performance at all. To this day, the photos I took on those shoots where I had the spur-of-the-moment idea and had fun setting it up are still my favorite and probably best executed shots. Sometimes I would get home and just flop on the couch and *hope* I got something I could give the client. Come on already, I took at least 30 amazing photos and probably 60 good ones. Even so, I would get them in lightroom and say to myself "at least the eyes are sharp." All around the shoots were fun but they were stressful and I was SO worried about what others thought that I would put the camera down when I got home and not use it for probably a week. I got so wrapped up in taking the "perfect" photo that I wouldn't even try when there was a possibility that they would be "normal."
So much for practice. Recently I have been going through all our old photos to make a board of my life so far for graduation and the lousiest photos of my siblings and I make me happier than all the photos I had taken in the past couple months. There is a problem with that. I didn't have any pictures of our life. I'd lost my resolve to capture those moments and emotions, especially in my own family! How are we going to remember this time? The year Emily learned to read? The first time Hudson was hired to play his cello? Jamie turns 20? My Mom starts her pilates business? Nope. We're going to see photos of some kids in my graduating class.
I can just see us in 20 years. "Hey! Remember when we etched our glasses with the Hebrew Alphabet so we wouldn't keep confusing them and use like 20 glasses a day? Oh yeah, I forgot about that! I think I have a picture somewhere....um, no, but I see this kid. Do you know this kid? Oh yeah, wasn't that a friend of Joanna's?"
Have no worries, I've photographed the glasses. :-)
I'm not going to wait till school is over to do what means something now. I'm not going to procrastinate my life away and succeed at the things that don't really matter. I want to live my life to God's glory and in his will. I'm changing my perspective tonight. I'm going to start being curious again. I have been so inspired by Becky Earl. She has such touching posts and photos about her family. Or Annette Wilson. Both of these ladies shoot film and shoot their everyday lives.
I love Digital Photography, but I think it would be totally worth it to learn to shoot film. There is more work involved and you are forced to shoot with purpose. I also love Madey and Anntonette's blogs. They shoot everyday life and turn the most mundane things into art as well as shoot the meaningful things beautiful.
If all you have to show for a career in photography is a portfolio full of photoshopped people you don't even know I think there is a problem and that is not the kind of photographer I want to be. In honor of all you amazing film photographers who get real with life, here is a
shoot set of pictures I grabbed of my little sister zonked out on my parents bed just before dinner. It was SO dark. So I shot at ISO 3200 and embraced the grain. These images are straight out of the Camera (SOOC).