Friday, June 3, 2011

Much Ado About Photos

It's the last day of school here - my boys were the last to get out; my daughter has been out about two weeks - the perk of being an 8th grader at their school is you get out before the rest of the kids.  Something she shamelessly reminds her brothers of daily by going to bed late and sleeping in. 

Since it's summer break and there are lots of photo opportunities this time of year, I have been thinking about pictures.  And wouldn't you know it, one of the podcasts I listen to talked about cameras and photos and gave me some food for thought.

First, I preface this with:  I have two good cameras that I don't totally know or understand how to use (a Sony DSLR that uses my Minolta lens and a Sony point-and-shoot that I keep in my purse.)  I've taken a couple online classes to try to help me understand the basics of photography and have achieved some degree of understanding.  I take okay photos.  80% of them are decent enough for me.  19% are unusable for various reasons:  too dark, unfocused, too bright, there's no point in the shot (it's similar to another shot or nobody's doing anything of interest) or it's a missed shot (what I was attempting to capture happened a shutter length before or after I clicked the release).  And 1% of my photos are truly good - either in quality or in something I captured.  I must also say, I'm not a photo editor.  I don't have Photo Shop or similar.  I don't do any post-processing of any kind and I have no desire to (I'm not talking about red-eye correction, or converting a color photo to black & white, though I don't really do that either.)  I upload and print or print at home.  I am in the camp of using the photos I do take and understanding my camera's functions to take better photos. 

Scrapbooking is about photos.  Can you make pages without them?  Sure, but modern scrapbooking is about the photo memories combined with the stories.  There has always been a lot of emphasis on the photo.  It can put pressure on us - only the perfect photo deserves to be scrapbooked.  Magazines are filled with great pages that contain amazing photography.  Just flip through one to see all those one-photo layouts where that one photo is crisp, clean, perfect in focus, color, composition and emotion.  That's a lot when I compare that to my cluttered, underexposed, no composition photo.  Why scrapbook it at all? 

Because in that photo, with the clutter in the background, is my 4 y.o. in the foreground, holding his beloved train, grinning ear-to-ear.  That is the memory.  That is what I'm scrapbooking. 

So I'll tell you what I tell myself, what was reaffirmed after listening to a podcast.  The best camera is the one you have with you.  A camera's price tag doesn't determine the photo quality or your ability to capture a moment.  Learn to use the camera you have.  Read the manual, take a class or simply play with your camera.  I've learned there is nothing wrong with using pre-sets and I'm discovering as much as I'd love to be a manual-set-camera-girl, it may just not be in the cards for me.  That doesn't mean I won't keep trying.  The best photo is the one I took; the one that captured the moment.  Learn to love what you take.  Learn to use what you have.  Creative cropping can fix a number of issues.  So can printing in black and white versus color.

Check out Get It Scrapped or Big Picture Classes for several options (free classes, self-paced and regular paid classes) based on what you already know - or don't know. 

Scrapbooking.  It's the memory, the people, the moments.  They're your memories to share with your family.  Don't use your photos or your photography skills as the excuse not to mark the moments in your life.

This summer go play and take your camera along.

1 comment:

Francine said...

First of all - well done, you have expressed these thoughts beautifully!

I do get annoyed at some of the beautiful layouts I see in magazines and wonder whether the creators are really just frustrated artists rather than what I would call a scrapbooker. I have always thought that scrapbooking is more about the memories than the perfect shot, or papers or embellishments. Having said that though, I do strive to take nicer photos and having gotten a new DSLR for my birthday/Xmas love playing with it and working out how to use it better. That will be a long process though! In the meantime, I try to tell myself that whatever comes out of the camera is good enough and really just a trigger to remind me of the fun times, etc that we shared. Thank you for the reminder, and for sharing some good sites to help me in my quest for improved photography.