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I wanted to talk about something I am personally working on right now, at home, when photographing my own family.
Documenting everything = digital clutter overload
It is so easy, especially when photographing “everyday life” to fall into the trap of wanting to photograph everything. The result is daunting: thousands and thousands of photographs waiting to be sorted through, narrow down a handful of them per month and print them.
This very task is hard enough when we have 200 photographs to choose from, but I regularly have 1000. I did print 500 photographs from the first 6 months of my daughter’s life, and if I keep going at this rate, I will have to buy a bigger house with a room just to store the albums.
Keeping the images in digital form only is not an option either. I’ve lost hard-drives before, and even if I am careful with backing up my photographs in multiple locations, I often wonder what would happen if I disappeared (I hate saying the word). Who will go through my hard drives to find the photographs? Will they know where to look? Will they ever look at them?
The conclusion is simple: I’m better off having 15 photographs printed every year (or even 1) than having 3000 photographs on my hard drive.
Now, obviously, I’d love to be somewhere in the middle.
My ideal is: to capture all the important moments for her and for me, print a manageable amount every year, maybe do a music slideshow of a bigger selection and feel “in peace” knowing the rest is backed up in an easy-to-understand filing system.
You know what? I’m not there yet. I can’t seem to find the time or energy to sort through my personal images after working on my clients’ images. Probably because I took so many and it’s a bit harder to “let go” of images of my own family.
Becoming more mindful and intentional
This being said, I’ve been starting to really become aware of the moments I want/need to capture of my family VS capturing everything. More importantly, I’ve decided to be more mindful of the moments first, before running to get my camera. Most moments will happen again. And if they don’t, it might be best to take it all in and imprint it in my memory rather than miss it all because I was looking for my camera.
While I strongly believe those photographs will be priceless to my daughter someday, I also know that she’d much rather have her mammy REALLY there with her when we spend time together.
And this doesn’t only mean leaving the camera behind. It also means the phone, the computer, the chores, the worries.
I’m working on coming back to the present, even if only for 15 minutes a day. I’m working on coming back to paper before doing a Google Search and getting lost in 30 opened tabs. I’m working on thinking about what I want her to remember from her childhood (with our without photographs).
I’m not saying it’s easy (it’s not!) and I often realise I’m fighting against that voice reminding me not to keep doing all the time.
So! I’ve been rambling a bit as usual, but I’m sure you get it :) My advice for this month would be to slow down, be mindful of your family and really be present with them (even for 5 minutes) without any distractions.
If you don’t have photographs of those moments, that’s fine. You’ll get another one.
Maybe that’s what you’ve been doing all along? Or maybe you just released a big sigh at all the guilt you’d been holding from not taking all the photos? Take a second to let me know in the comments :)