Sometimes I sit down and edit personal photos as my way of taking a break from working on client images. It’s a good way for me to unwind and remember why I do this, as well as help my creative juices flow without the stress of being perfect for paying clients. I’m not going to lie, in the past year and a half I’ve fallen REALLY behind on editing my personal photos. My dad begs me for photos of his grandkids. I shoot them, give him the obligatory 3 or 4 (usually one of each kid and maybe a group shot) and then I forget about the entire session for months. In some cases it’s been over a year. I’m working really hard at remedying that. I became a photographer for my kids, and if I never have photos of them then I feel like I’m failing somewhere as both a mom and a photographer.
That’s what brings me to this post. I took these photos back in February of this year. It had snowed several inches and was really the only decent snow of the season. My dad begged me for photos of the kids in the snow so we went out to play and I snapped away. I was unaware at the time, but my lens was having some issues. That, combined with the fact that the cold made it harder to get great accuracy through the viewfinder meant that about 90% of the photos I took were out of focus. Some just slightly, others pretty much entirely. I was devastated. I had no desire to even sift through them any more to find the handful of keepers. I was so upset that I refused to even go outside to re-shoot them. We were cold, I was upset, it just wasn’t going to happen. I called my dad and told him that something went wrong with my lens during the shoot and I probably wouldn’t be able to send him anything. He sounded sad, but understood. I threw them on my external hard drive and forgot about them until this morning.
Today, as I browsed through the photos I realized something that I’d missed when I initially looked at them. Memories. Viewing them at thumbnail size, where I couldn’t see tiny imperfections, helped me catch the genuine happiness on my kids faces. It helped me remember why I took the photos in the first place. I wanted to remember this time. I wanted to forever freeze (yeah, pun intended) them as they were at that point in their lives. It was my 2 year old’s first time playing in the snow. It was the last time my older kids would play in the snow as 4 and 7 year olds. They have all changed so much in the roughly 9 months since I took these photos. The desire to be perfect made me forget that I need to capture these moments no matter how perfect they are. I have every other day to be perfect, but on this day I should have just been content with being mom. Deep inside I’ve always known that these photos, despite the lack of perfect focus, are probably way better in quality than the snapshots my parents took of me as a kid, yet when I go back and look at those I never think, “Wow, that is way out of focus,” “Oh my gosh, what terrible white balance,” or, “Gee, I sure wish this photo was better exposed!” I see memories, and I remember that my parents loved me enough to capture these important times for me.
So, with out further ado, I’m sharing my not so perfect images on my professional photography blog. I considered only sharing them on my personal Facebook page, but I think in a way that defeats the purpose of the lesson I’m learning here. Instead I’m stepping out of my comfort zone posting these publicly, on a format where my future clients and professional peers can judge me. I hope that someone else out there can enjoy these less-than-perfect photos as much as I am right now. Some I lucked out and got them in focus. Some to the untrained eye don’t look so bad. Others are definitely not something I’d include as part of a professional gallery, but the moment was too good to send to the recycle bin. You have no idea how nervous it’s making me to push that “publish” button. I just ask that when you look at these photos, please don’t judge me as a photographer. Judge me as a mom.