There's been a lot of talk in the photography community recently about the drain many of us experience because we feel the need to not only constantly create beautiful portraits for others, but also for ourselves. Though we don't need to prove to ourselves that our talents are tried and true by epic images of the dinners we make for our families or the home we live in, the industry has moved in a direction that leaves many of us feeling like we have to expose and document our lives in intimate and beautiful ways to share back with the world. The bigger lie many of us, including me, have bought into is that this unspoken expectation is necessary and required in order to succeed as a 21st century 'tog.
I'll be honest, I love documenting everyday life. My love of the camera and the ability to create art out of simple moments is what got me into this to begin with! I am, however, ready to let go of the "capture it all, capture it perfectly, shoot life like it's a portrait session" mentality.
If you're a friend and blog follower, you know that I already love the iPhone photography//Instagram world. I think there is incredible value in being able to remember everyday life through these little images. It has taken me time to get here though--to a weekend like this past one where my SLR, lenses and cards stay in the closet and my iPhone and I adventure together.
After months of beginning to put my camera "down", I'm finally experience freedom to not feel like a spectator of my own life. I look at the rainy, joy-filled images above [from a Saturday adventure to the local farmer's market] and think about what a drag it would have been if I had been trying to manage my camera. I mean seriously, not worth it! It makes it even better that my dear friend Tiffany is also a photographer and she was rockin' her iPhone too :)
On Friday night I had some girlfriends over for a night to just hang. The tag line "wear your yoga pants and come ready to relax!" does not set people up to want to have their picture taken. Now this is not to say that I couldn't have documented more, I actually wish I got a picture of the girls who were there just for memory sake, but a full on photo shoot when my girls were just trying to have a night of R&R would not have been right.
Not to mention Jenny the Hound would have been unhappy to have her slumber disrupted by a bright flash or loud click ;-)
I hope as an industry we can recognize the weight that some of this unspoken expectation is having on peoples lives. I also hope we can recognize that we have an opportunity to help other, non-'togs understand how to capture their everyday life so that our specialty portrait work is more valued than ever.
We fear that if we don't capture enough, we won't be taken seriously. We also fear that if "they" (non-'togs) capture too much, we won't be needed.
Both are simply not true.
I would encourage that we first find our personal boundaries around documenting/sharing life.
Second, be sure the ones we love are in the loop [aka talk with the people you're going to be documenting]. For J and I, this means when we're on a date or spending time together my phone goes on airplane mode so I can take pictures without all the other distractions.
Third, own it and love it. Who cares how many likes // follows //shares you got from [x] image? It's your lifeand hopefully you've chosen to put it out there for more reasons than the double click from an acquaintance or stranger.
Fourth, follow and encourage others at a pace and in a space that is comfortable for you. This is advice that all photographers should especially consider because most of us feel like we need to use every social media platform, every hour, of every day, again, to even have a chance at making it. Lie. Pick what fits you, the thing or things that make you feel comfortable and allow you to be you.
As for me, I think I'm doing pretty good on steps 1 & 2 but I've got work to do on 3 & 4. As life continues to change and transition for J and I, I have no doubt I'll have to reframe the balance between SLR/iPhone/non-documented life in a way that works for me. For us.
Love to you, photo-loving friends! in His love,