I dug out some childhood scrapbooks recently on a mission to find a particular photo. I didn’t find the photo, but I found something much more interesting. I came across an old scrapbook that belonged to my parents. I forgot that it had been given to me.
Looking through photos from the early eighties was such a treat. The outfits, hairstyles, and house décor – oh my! There were photos of random moments in my parents’ lives before I was born, their friends, other family members, and holiday parties. I especially enjoyed Halloween photos and seeing the costumes they came up with back then. One of my great uncles went as a tub of lard for Halloween one year, and my grandpa was a giant milk carton.
There were a few posed photos, but my favorites were the ones that weren’t posed. My favorites are the ones where my parents were captured laughing. I love the moments caught where someone’s facial expression says it all. They were in the moment, not stopping to say “cheese” because they didn’t know the moment was being captured. There were dark photos and slanted photos. These pictures from a pre-digital age weren’t perfect, and I love them!
As a photographer, I am grateful now for digital cameras and photos and the benefits that come with them, but I still remember the pre-digital age. I remember using my Kodak 110 camera as a kid. I remember dropping off rolls of film at the drugstore and returning a few days later to pick up the photo packets. I remember being excited as I opened the packet and thumbed through the pictures. I remember being sad about the ones that didn’t turn out because they were too dark or someone’s eyes were closed. I remember throwing the bad ones away.
I am thankful that whether I’m using my DSLR or the camera on my phone I can see the photo right after I take it. I can decide right then and there if it’s worth keeping or just delete it. I can take another one and not worry about wasting film. However, looking through my parents’ scrapbook made me realize how important those imperfect photos can be too and how much I miss them. It allowed me a glimpse into who Mom and Dad were before I ever existed. It reminded me that every photo taken or kept doesn’t have to be post-worthy (and maybe we need to wake-up and break-up with that post-worthy mindset).
I’m thankful for technology. I don’t like it causing us to strive for only those perfect captured moments though. Let’s not forget that most of life is made up of imperfect moments and those are meaningful and worth remembering too.
So, let’s adjust our focus. Capture more random moments of the kids playing, the husband working on his motorcycle, and holiday moments where not everyone is gathered up to say “cheese.” It’s okay to still have some posed photos, but remember that captured moments don’t have to be perfect.
I’m making it my photography goal this year to take more un-posed photos and capture everyday life. Why don’t you give it a try too?