location location location / by Carey

I've been told many times by many different people that I do a great job documenting my kids lives. I recently had a little revelation about it.

My style is lifestyle - capturing the moment, the emotion, the connection. Posing is the antithesis of me, and sucks the creativity and artistry right out of my photography. The more I sought learning about photography and the more my "photography friends" influenced/inspired me, I started to loose some of my lifestyle-ness. I was trying to "improve" my skills, but rather, was morphing my unique look at the world into "their" look... and I was perpetually frustrated and disappointed. No matter how much I tried, I couldn't do it, at least not to my standards. I don't take good posed stuff. Period.

So, over the last several months, I've been coming to and accepting the realization that I'm lifestyle. Fully. And that is okay. Wonderful, actually, because it isn't what everyone else is. It's just me. It is what I love, and that is why I'm doing this! Sometimes it can be so easy to loose focus.... : )

Every month, I have at least 700 images of my kids. Most months it is more than 1000. I'm not kidding. (can you say external hard drive???)

But you know what? The last two months? I have hardly any! In November? NONE, actually. Not ONE. I don't know that there has been a month since having children these last four years that I've not taken a photo for an entire MONTH. In December, I took some shots testing out my returned Sigma lens to see if it was fixed (it isn't....), I took some shots playing with the flash a friend is letting me borrow, and then I did Christmas morning shots. That's it! How can this be??!!

I know part of it is because November and December are just busy months with all the holidays and such. But that's not really it. It's not the root cause, because I've managed all these other years. (though I did overextend myself and was trying to do way too much in way too little time this year, with the end of the year deadline looming).

The root cause is location, location, location. Here is my kitchen counter back in May.

This picture isn't the best to show my point, but it was one I knew how to find quickly. (A downside to 12000 images a year is that it is rather difficult to find an image when you want to go back in time and find it... This one was from a series where Cora climbed up the drawer handles to get on top of the counter - aka memorable!)

So you see Cora and Shawn's lunch bag he left on the counter. But between them you can see a plastic shoebox organizer bin thing. That, my friends, is my photography buddy. It was my camera's home for at least 2 years in my house.

So you can better understand the location, here's another image from my kitchen.

You can see the edge of the counter on the right hand side - right where Cora was standing in the first pic. You can see this location is central to my kitchen and playroom -- aka where we ARE 95% of the time. It's right in the entryway between the two rooms and very easily accessible at any time.


Two months ago, we decided to make some room in the kitchen for the laptop to have it be in a more accessible location and to get it out of the playroom (and get me off of it 95% of the time). This required rearranging, and my photography buddy/basket moved. It moved close to where the pink cup is in the second pic, which is near where the range top is, which is where cooking and splattering occur, and that just made me nervous. Since I recently acquired a Crumpler bag (FINALLY a bag for my stuff!!!), my camera started living in there... in the office... very out of the way...

And you know what? I haven't picked up my camera. Hardly any.

The more I've thought about it, I realize that it's because it isn't right there. Within reach. Easily.

And I believe, at least for me, this is key. Location Location Location. My camera has always been right there. If they are doing something I want to capture, I take a few steps, grab my camera and shoot. But there's just something about leaving the action that suppresses the urge, and it just doesn't happen. And that is just not okay with me! Plus, at least for my kids, when I leave the room, the action stops. The moment is gone. If I'm going to capture it, I need to capture it NOW.

I missed a moment last month that I just hate that I missed. Nathan has a best friend. It's absolutely adorable. We had his best friend and his older sister over before Christmas to make chocolate covered pretzels together. The kids weren't super interested in that -- they just wanted to play together. I also forgot to mention that Cora has an uber-crush on Nathan's best friend. They all climbed into cubbies of the shelf unit in the playroom for fun... It was SO cute!!! But I missed it.

Because I had to go get my camera out of the bag in the office, and struggle to get the bag open because I'd done the buckles on both sides and the velcro.... and pull out the camera and turn it on and make sure the settings were all right and blah blah blah.... I missed this moment last month. By the time I came back, Cora was over it. She was out and onto something else. I saw the shot as soon as I looked into the playroom when they did this, but my camera wasn't right there, at my hand already. I had to go get it. And I missed my shot. Forever.

This was NOT what I was going for...

So, today, I'm going to do some more rearranging and make it so that my camera can live in his old perfect spot. It will make the kitchen counter arrangement not my ideal. But it is worth that sacrifice to have my camera at hand, capturing all those little moments I can't go back in time to get.

Another thing I can anticipate hearing is that having it "out" makes it more likely to be damaged, etc etc. And I most certainly agree. But my point here is that if it is NOT out, I don't shoot. And if I have to buy another body or lens or two over the years, I think in 30 years, it'll have been worth it for all the moments and memories I've captured. It's just a decision and less than ideal that I'm going to have to make peace with. : )

So for this upcoming year, find a little convenient pocket to keep your camera. Get your camera out of your pretty bag, and within reach, and start taking shots of everyday life!