Thursday, August 21, 2014

Are There Bad Photos?

I've been scrapbooking some older photos, taken with my SLR film camera.  Film cameras.  They sort of forced you to know how to take a good photo, or at least try to.  There was no looking at the screen and seeing all the errors of composition, lighting and focus, which allowed you to retake the photo.  Nope, instead you did your best, took the shot (or three) and hoped for the best when your film was developed.  Film and developing was too costly to just fire away.

I'm not a great photographer by any stretch of the imagination.  I get a lucky shot now and then, that I think is great, but mostly they are just passable.  I think I've improved over the years - or maybe it's just a result of the digital age - but I do look through the viewfinder with a little more thought.  Even though I shoot digital, almost always with my phone, I do try to compose better, be more aware of the light and focus, try different vantage points.  I don't want 5000 shots of one event.  I don't post-process.  I don't do digital photo organization.  So I tend to be more thoughtful even with digital photography.

Which brings me to my question:  Are there bad photos?  I've scrapped some under-lighted, fuzzy, grainy, blown-out, taken-to-far-away photos.  I've contemplated not putting them on the page.  But then I look at the subjects or the event and I decide to include them (cropping improves some of them.)  In that grainy, school program shot from the fifth row of the unlit cafa-gym-atorium, I captured my daughter's fourth grade class.  All those kids she went to school with from kindergarten through eighth grade - some she still attends school with - are now seniors.  You can see that layout HERE

The photo above with my son and daughter, was taken on their first day of school (really it was their second, but I wasn't around when they left for their first day.)  I've taken first day photos in front of the door since they were in pre-school.  The light is always hideous, regardless of the time of day, but even more so at 7:00 am.  But these pictures are about other things, too.  Like now, you can barely see the door handle.  There was a time their heads barely cleared it.  Shoot there was a time he was so much smaller than she was.  I've had stoic faces, super excited faces and nervous faces in this spot.  I love this one because it captures something I don't often get on camera - the connection between the two of them.

Here are some other not-so-great photos and why I would probably include them on a layout, despite their flaws.

These days it's tricky to get all four kids in any photo.  More often than not, these are the results when I do have them all in frame - the "creeper" look they all seem fond of photo bombing each other with.  Not paying attention.  Realizing I'm trying to take a picture and turning away.  In general, spoiling what was, a second a go, a pretty decent candid shot.  Why would I include it?  For the reasons just stated above.

Aside from the fact that his clothes coordinate with the wall color he's applying, it's under exposed, fairly grainy and blurry because of the lack of light and the fact that he's rolling on paint at the speed of sound.  So why include this?  Well for one, the giant smudge of paint in his hair.  Plus, at this point in time, he's all about keeping up with his older siblings.  He wants to be where they are, doing what they're doing.  This photo represents the long awaited "ok" to come up and help his sister with painting her room.

Though the color is a bit off, it's also fairly out of focus - which seems to be an issue with most photos of him, because he's constantly on the move - I'll include this one because it captures the moment he came up, sputtering, from holding his breath and having his head, almost, underwater.  A big deal for him and a giant step from the wall clinging he did only last summer.

Aaannndd. . .I'm willing to concede there might be some photos that need not be included. Chances are there's something better, not perfect, but better.  Buuttt, if this was the only photo from the Family Field Day Kick-ball Game, you bet I'd include it.  I'd make it work.

Could I edit them.? Probably.  But, as I said before, I don't edit; it's too time consuming for me.  I'd rather focus on getting a better shot to begin with.

Maybe it's sentiment.  Maybe I'd have chosen not to scrap those photos of my, then, 4th grade daughter's program if I'd actually done them when she was in the fourth grade.  But I think there is no such thing as a bad photo.  Sometimes there's more, beyond the underexposed, blurry image.  It's about the story.  It's about the moment.  It's about capturing your life.

Happy Thursday,

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