Musings On Photography
There’s nothing like having one’s own child to make one get into a reflective mood – especially when one seems suddenly to have many more hours in which to be reflective (translation: I think a lot during my 3am feed).
One of the things I’ve been pondering lately is my relationship to photography. Many years ago, photography was my hobby and it was really fun. Then I started my photography business. No matter how much you love something, when you make it your full-time occupation, it will sometimes feel like a job – a job you chose and a job you mostly love, but a job nonetheless.
With that in mind, I am constantly striving to keep photography interesting for myself. As soon as I start to feel that I’m getting tired of what I’m doing, I change. The philosophy that has always driven my style is “how would I want this photographed myself?” The best way to create work that others want to buy is to make something I would buy, if I were the client. It’s similar to the saying about buying gifts: the best gift to give is something that you would want yourself (unless you’re into collecting garden gnomes).
Having a child has compounded this feeling for me. Just as I wanted to explore pregnancy photography when I was carrying Baby (shoot 1, 2a, 2b, 2c, and 3), now I want to explore the kind of images a mother values of her child.
I love thinking about the variety of images that James and I can create to celebrate Baby. I feel so lucky that I have the opportunity to bring her into the studio whenever I want to play with her there, using pro backdrops, props and lights. Only in the studio would I be able to create the image at the top of this post, which I love because it captures her perfection (in my eyes, anyway). I look at this picture when I’m trying to express milk (they say it helps to get more out) because it fills my heart with love. She’s become my little muse.
But just as valuable for telling her story as these professional-grade images are the snapshots that James and I take on our iPhones. While the former photographs celebrate the beauty we see in her, the latter informal iPhone images celebrate her developing quirks and smirks. I have about 500 pics of her “poo face”. I’m already planning to put together a book after her first year with excerpts from the blog and all the images we’ve taken, whether they’re masterpieces or just-for-fun pieces.
On one of my late night Internet adventures, where I swing from link to link on my iPad while Baby breastfeeds, I came upon this wonderful site that made me feel really nostalgic. It was one of those “I wish I’d thought of that” moments and, to me, this is what photography is all about and why it’s so valuable. I love this idea of superimposing the past on the present, of revisiting where we’ve been, and it’s made me want to get my hands on my childhood photo albums and give this a go. My father and I used to travel in Europe together every summer when I was a girl and it would be a good excuse to take Baby to some amazing places, like Paris and Venice, where I spent many summers. It would also be fun to photograph Baby in these same places as I was photographed, to show the next generation.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I want Baby to have amazing family albums that will serve as a memory for her and an aide memoire for me, using words and pictures. For example, neither of my parents can remember what my first word was, but they do seem to remember that I said, “I’ll do it my way” a lot.
James and I are also working on a film for her with interviews from all of her grandparents (with two sets of divorced, mostly remarried parents, that’s a lot of people). I suppose that being in the business of recording lives has made us want to do it tenfold for ourselves.