I love all things old.
Well, almost all things old, some old people do suck. In the comments some of you mentioned The Villages in Florida...I've been there!! It is freaky. A bunch of old people pretty much built their own little town in the middle of nowhere, with a town square, a cathedral, movie theater, boutiques and restaurants, antique car shows in the square every Saturday, a golf course...it is like Old People Heaven. I cannot IMAGINE being under 65 and having to work there or be there on a regular basis, that many old people would surely drive me crazy (like I'm not crazy already.) All right, that was off topic big time, but I've been meaning to comment on that.
As I was saying, I like old things. I love things with a history. Mr. Ashley hates going to an antique store with me because I like to look at everything, talk about everything, think about everything, and smell everything (which is a whole nother weird issue). I love getting an idea of people's past lives through this stuff. And then I have to buy the stuff, but yet again, that is another topic entirely.
I am fascinated with antique portraits and pictures and they always make me feel kind of sad. How did they end up in some dusty old booth? They are magnificent, sometimes on tin, often hand colored, people who are interestingly dressed, someone who had a real life, who sat there solemnly or shyly smiling for a camera, nervous or curious about how they'll look, like we all are. I'm always sad that they are dispossessed and wonder how they made that leap from a family heirloom to stacked up in a dark corner with a price tag on them, but I also always think it is neat that here I am all these years later, getting a little peek of their life. That here is an example of one of the footprints this person left on history.
I also love looking at old family albums, the ones that were my grandparents, and seeing parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and anonymous family friends and cousins posing in front of old motorcycles, first cars, in prom gowns and leisure suits, holding babies or basketballs, swimming in lakes, eating wedding cake, wearing totally ridiculous outfits and sporting haircuts that should make them want to kill themselves.
You get a glimpse of who people were and how life was and get a glimpse into the important moments that make up a family history.
Pictures are a BIG DEAL. What better way to capture time? You are literally capturing a moment, a memory. I have some pictures, especially of my newborns, that I can smell and feel them and remember exactly how I felt that moment--that exhausted, proud, satisfaction that comes with a new baby.
I have snapshots I took of Big Kid's nursery and whenever I look at them, I remember taking them, 8.5 months pregnant, and lying on that new carpet in that perfect, sage green Classic Pooh room that already smelled like baby powder because of the itsy bitsy diapers neatly stacked in the diaper stacker and feeling excited and anxious and ready and terrified. Would I have that memory without those photos? Maybe. But would I be as likely to remember it? Probably not.
In 20 years, would I remember how teeny tiny little kid's sweet toes were before they became encrusted with dirt, funky toenails, ant bites and splinters without this:
Not as easily. Especially if he ends up in the penitentiary. I'm just saying.
(I'm getting ahead of myself but note the lighting in the baby toes picture...backlighting is beautiful on baby parts. The soles of his feet are facing the window and my camera flash is off)
So by taking photographs of our kids we are preserving their life histories and leaving them an amazing legacy.
IF we print the photos out, that is, but that is another post entirely. Frankly, it is another one of those toxic clouds on my to do list, so we're not even going there today.
So, I'm going to give you some tips on getting pictures you will be proud of. We're going to start off super basic because I don't know where else to start.
1. This seems obvious...but you have to bring your camera. Sometimes it is a pain in the ass and you're afraid that you'll lose it or it will get broken, but if you don't bring it, you are definitely not going to get any pictures at all. Duh.
You don't need a fancy camera to start with. Your point and shoot will work for now. I have a Nikon D50. The Nikon D40 is a great entry level DSLR.
2. Once again, it seems like a no-brainer...but what you see in the viewfinder is what you are going to get. If The Laundry Couch is in the background or the Fisher Price Ghetto is filling the frame, it will be like that in the photograph itself as well. This is always a huDge bummer. Also, boogers/food/dirt, will show up too. And it is not cute, no matter how cute you think your kid is.
So take one moment and really think about what you're about to get, if you need to, move yourself, or better yet (and if you don't learn anything else, please learn this) ZOOM IN. Fill your frame with your subject. Also, take more vertical close up shots. So many pictures are better suited for them.
3. There is truly no excuse not to do this in today's digital age...but TAKE MORE PICTURES. Take an obscene amount. Take too many of every occasion and in every cute outfit. It is so easy to delete, but so hard to get one cute face out of these children sometimes.
Every once in a while, take a minute to put them in something cute and take them outside and take some photos of them. If they start acting like little miniature jackasses, like they will almost always do, just let them run around and play and get some close ups of them. Candids are usually the stuff that ends up taking your breath away later down the road. Plus, at some point you get the "cheese face phase":
That was Big Kid's version of a smile for about 4 months or so...we're slowly coming out of it now. Needless to say, we have 4 months of a lot of candids. That's a face that a mother can barely even love.
4. Look for the light!! This is a huDge one. Just start to notice how light hits things. This is when things start to get artistic (and what I'm learning more about all the time). Light gives things dimension and shadow gives things drama. Just start to pay attention and you will see examples of this.
Turn off your flash, drag someone over to a window and experiment with catching the light how it falls.
Think of Rembrandt and his art:
Once again, probably getting a little ahead of myself, but for the non-beginners:
For the beginners, just put your subject sideways to a window, turn your flash off and forget about the reflector for now, zoom in, focus on the eyes and experiment some.
Once you get this, it will change the way you see the world.
And then you'll need a fancy new camera and you'll have to learn to use your camera's light meter and shoot on manual mode, but that's all for another day.
For beginners, I recommend Nick Kelsh's Photograph Your Baby. For people moving on up in the photography world, I recommend Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.
In the meantime, get your camera out and use it! Your kids will thank you one day.
Okay, maybe not, but your feeble memory will.