Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Capturing the moment

A primer on capturing a moment in time by taking pictures . . .

Last night I was at my Nana’s house organizing pictures that she has taken over the last 70 years. I don’t believe she has thrown away a single picture, ever. She has never organized them, and hasn’t looked at the most of the pictures since she had them developed. As I sat organizing I considered how important these photos are in representing life, as my nana looked through them, her life went before her eyes. From when she was two until last year, all the pictures were there. And being a rather avid photographer myself, it reminded me of the importance of capturing these moments.

Photos are not the most important part of memories. The stories are. A picture of a brown horse means nothing to you, but to me I remember the stories my Papa has told me since I was a little girl, living on a sheep station in the outback of Australia, what his horse was called (Cordite), and how he used to ride them as he herded sheep, killed rabbits, and rode to school. With those memories, the picture now means something special.

It doesn’t matter that the picture didn’t have perfect composition, wasn’t properly framed, or had poor lighting. It was a simple picture, but it meant something because of the story it told.

As you go through life, take pictures and capture memories. You can take a picture of a beautiful sunset or your delicious dinner, but a couple of years down the road those won’t mean anything. You will have seen more colorful sunsets and eaten more unique food. But if you include your friends sitting and watching the sunset, or the people eating the food, then you have created a memory.

What I've learned:

Capture today, the now. 
Take a picture of you with your phone, iPod, refrigerator, or computer. It sounds stupid now, but 30 years from now your children or grandchildren will loving poking fun at you for thinking you were hip and techie.

Capture a moment. 
Instead of a sunset, have your friends jump in front of the sunset so you have a lovely silhouette.

Give context. 
Don’t just take a picture of a face; give it a story and a background. 

Zoom out. 
Instead of the face in front of a garden, try a person in the mud in the garden on a rainy day.

Movement in pictures gives the eye something to imagine. If everyone is simply standing still then the mind moves on quickly, but if they’re walking, jumping, or laughing it causes the brain to imagine the details and tells a story and captures the feeling of the moment.

It’s worth the trouble. 
I don’t always feel like taking pictures. In fact probably half of my pictures I didn’t feel like taking, I would much rather have just sat, talked, or watched the moment go by. But I’ve learned from experience that months or years later I’m not going to remember the “trouble” I went through to take the picture. But instead I will remember the time and experience even better. I can be reminded of details that I have forgotten.

Pictures that never come off the Internet or a computer don’t do you a whole lot of good. Hard drives crash, websites go down, and files are lost and forgotten. Instead print the pictures and put them in a box. It will be lots more fun to go through an album or box of photos then to flip through them on a screen.
Record when, who, and where.
 In the moment you take a picture you can never imagine forgetting your friend’s name or where you were. But a couple of years down the road, memories start to blur together.  So, make it simple. Write all the details down immediately. It will save you tons of time and frustration later.


Anonymous said...

This is one of the best posts you have ever compiled, trust me you have put togehter some great blog posts, but the emotion that you put into this post and the helpful tips you provide make this one stellar!

Claire L said...

This is an excellent post! It makes me want to take more pictures, especially of people. And to have the discipline to label the pictures I do take.