Sometimes a photograph just says it all…
Sometimes cameras fail us. The human eye is a wonder. We can see things clearly and at the correct “aperture” despite multiple differences in stops, color temperature. Cameras can create amazing effects, but every once in a while, no matter how hard I try, I cannot replicate what I see with my human eye. Above is a picture from inside a log house in Wyoming. I was stunned by the light that day. The warmth of the wood, coloring the inside. I could see everything inside clearly, fully lit by the daylight. Then, through the windows, I could see the beautiful expanse of land, the house down the street, the mountains, the sky. I wanted to take a picture of it, capturing the balance between these two images as I saw it: the foreground of the interior and the background of the exterior. But my camera would either overexpose the windows, blowing them out to white, or underexpose the interior, making it darker than it looked.
This happened again this morning as I walked the kids to school. I was shooting into the sun, so I wasn’t surprised that the building and the kids were silhouetted, but I was surprised at how well I could see them. How perfect the lighting. It was as if I could “zoom” in with my eyes as I watched the kids walk up. And my camera failed me.
I am a very visual person. What I see before me, every day, effects my mood, my thoughts, my actions, and my inspiration. When I was a teenager, I had my camera with me always. Nowadays, with smartphones, we always have our cameras with us, but back then, it was unusual to carry around a 35mm camera everywhere. But I would see things on the street, in my daily life, and wish I had a camera. I was constantly looking for the perfect shot to every moment. In a way, it distanced me from being in the moment because I was always analyzing how I would capture it. I would despair over forever losing a particular shot if I didn’t have my camera. I relied on it to document life around me.
Today, I live in a city where there is not much visual aesthetic, but I have found the secret places of beauty. More importantly, I embrace the moment and the images I’m seeing with my own eyes, not just through a lens.
Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion about the so-called “selfie” pictures, especially when it comes to teenage girls. Two moms of sons wrote contrasting blog posts about girls posting inappropriate pictures that they took of themselves in suggestive positions or with sexual innuendo. The first mom who started this off commented that she was disappointed in the girls because she knew they were bright, well-rounded, beautiful girls and that these pictures degraded them and turned them into sexual objects that boys couldn’t “unsee” or ever stop thinking about. She also went on to say that as soon as one of these inappropriate pictures showed up on her son’s Facebook newsfeed, her son would have to “unfriend” her because there were “no second chances.” The second mom, in response, was concerned about some of the first mom’s attention to the girl’s photos that may have actually encouraged the son to view the girl sexually. The second mom also questioned the true validity that the son would never view that girl as anything other than a sexual object. And most importantly, the second mom also raised the point that in her own life, she has needed second, third, and really infinite chances to learn from and correct her mistakes and stumbling blocks throughout her life and encouraged the first mom to be more forgiving. These two moms couch their posts in their Christian faith and support their different perspectives in that faith.
It reminded me of when I was thirteen and taking roll after roll of self-portraits with my 35mm camera. I wanted to add my thoughts to the discussion, reflecting on my desire to take selfies, and as a mom to both a son and daughter (and step-mom to another son and daughter).
The phrase “I love shooting children” definitely comes out wrong but many of my most recent photographic experiences involve photographing children and it is an endless passion of mine. Photographing children is like photographing wildlife: you have to wait for the right moment and be fast enough to catch it. There are so many times where I hear the “click” of my shutter and realize, “shit, I just missed it.” But then there are times when I capture something right as it happens, and it’s never anything you can truly anticipate. It’s magic. So here are some of my favorites.
I missed my first Foto Friday last week after successfully posting for Movie Mondays and Writing Wednesdays. But, it is a new day and a new opportunity! The picture of the “Flying Guy” as I like to call him was a fairly life-sized paper mache sculpture indicating the entrance to a series of shops in my mother’s hometown of Brno, Czech Republic. It reminds me to always keep an eye out. You will always find something strange and beautiful.
I think lying in wait for the perfect shot requires patience, luck, knowing yourself, knowing your camera, breath control, and ultimately timing. Most of the time, though, we don’t have the time to wait but we have the luck to come across something that needs to be captured. I took the pictures below on my iPhone from the window of my car as I drove past. This is one of my favorite spots and I’d like to come back when I have time and a better camera to really capture all angles, investigate the site and find secret wonders. But not today, and that’s okay because I think these images capture the FEELING that I wanted to convey. Sometimes a picture doesn’t have to be in perfect focus. Sometimes that humanity coming across the lens is not just the subject but the artist himself or herself.
And yes I know I spelled “photo” wrong in “foto fridays.”
Picture me, 6 years old behind a camera in a pitch black room with my father in front of the camera holding a hammer and aiming for a glass lightbulb.
And you thought I was joking! For the full story, go to the Photography page.
I’ve been in transition for the last four years. A metamorphosis into adulthood, into identity, into personhood. A lot of things I figured out recently were things I thought I already knew. And some of this change is a remembering of things lost. But most of it is new change. I am not the same person I was a few years ago. I am not the same artist.
I used to create out of frustration and sadness and a lot of anger. Today, I am content with myself and with my world. That doesn’t mean I like everything or agree with everything or that I don’t have sad days. But my daily life is one filled with a general joy and satisfaction that I never thought I would ever have. And I found it at my lowest point in life. I found it within myself. It was truly a revelation to find acceptance.
The question now is: what is my motivation to create? I still feel the wonder and the need to create. I also think my happiness affords some distance from the sadness and anger, which can be a very very good thing when crafting stories, characters, and especially dialogue. But the impulse to create has changed and I’m still figuring that out.
So this is me, finding the artist that is Jenny Waldo.