Thursday, March 3, 2016

on pictures :: take them, label them, use them

 Awe; and very pleased that we had agreed to go on this trip to see a hole in the ground in the desert. 

A year or so ago, I was taking pictures at my nephew's birthday party and another mom said to my sister-in-law, "How nice that you have your own photographer!"  To which she replied, "Yes, but we don't see many of the pictures."  A few weeks after that, I was at another party and noticed a little stack of photo books.  Of course I looked through them.  (I always look through other people's photo albums if they're out.)  One thing I really liked about these books was that there were several pictures of the whole family.  A few thoughts came out of these experiences.   

Happy birthday, this one; and the blizzard on the way home!

First, I recall a scrapbook saleslady saying that (photo) books are a technology that will never be obsolete and doesn't require any equipment.  So true; raise your hand if you have family pictures in slide format that you never look at, or family movies on 8mm or VHS.  I had never thought of it that way, but sometimes I find an old photo album, and I open it right up and look at it.  Not so if I find an old box of film reels (and I have.) 

Secondly, when it comes to personal pictures, sometimes the shots I want were not taken.  There aren't a lot of shots of our whole family, in a year.  We do usually get Christmas pictures (whether or not I send them out) so it's not like years have gone by without shots of BFJ and I.  But for weekend trips and vacations we often only have pictures of the kids.  As for the other adults, if so-and-so just commented on their weight, hair, etc I feel sheepish asking to take their picture.  If I'm getting paid to take pictures of an event, I try to get every guest but when it comes to my own family, it's easy to think I'll get them next time. 

And third, I realized that although I have lots of pictures, I can't always find what I'm looking for.  I have many thousands of pictures from each of the last eight years (when I started shooting digital.)  I see that picture of someone doing something, in my mind, but if I can't tie it to a date or year, it may take days to find it.

                                      Oh the fragrance, like hunting for Christmas trees in the middle of summer.

So last Spring, I resolved to do three things. 

First, to make photo books for everyone in my family for Christmas.  Indeed, every adult that received a gift from me last Christmas received a photo book, even BFJ.  I'm not sure everyone was super thrilled, but I know he was!

Second, we have made sure to take pictures of our whole family whenever we go on a trip, many stops, using either the timer, or asking a friend.  Or if necessary, a stranger.  It's not as hard as I thought to include myself.  Maybe there was a bit of vanity along the way - either that I'm the better photographer, or I'm not as thin and youthful as I used to be.  But either way, a not-quite-perfect shot holds more memories than an empty camera.    

Third, I have resolved to label all my pictures.  Luckily I had come up with the system early on of filing pictures by month, i.e. October 2011.  I made a little grid for myself of all the months (alphabetically, because that's how my computer does it) and all the years, in descending order, and have chipped away at this task a month at a time.  I'm making sure they are edited artistically, as well as being labeled by file number (this keeps them in order, mostly), an informative title, and also tagged.  So when I need a picture of "red" or "yarn" or "flowers" or "Christy", they pop right up.  In this process, I also eliminated a lot of similar-yet-inferior shots, and the tediousness of having to label and tag every shot forced me to really cull the best ones that I might actually use, and not feel bad about the stuff I deleted.  Well.  I am still working on this.  I still have several months left, but I am more intentional with what I save from current work. 

I waited and waited for people to walk out of this shot. 

The bonus of working through all these many thousands of files is, of course, getting to re-experience all these wonderful moments.  I read somewhere that photographers relive the shoot when they edit the pictures.  It's true.  I often find my self smiling or even laughing at a remembered joke that happened just before this shot, the smell of the forest in this one, how precious are my children, the awe, the fear, the cold, the light, and how this is the last picture I took of him.  Yep, sometimes I cry.

This guy, throwing snow at me and making a brilliant picture.  We laughed so much.

This giant rock that BFJ wanted to see for his birthday turned out to be pretty amazing. 

That day we locked ourselves in the marina.  Whoops!

Hoar frost, on that day BFJ called from work to tell me I should go out and shoot by the lake.

Maybe this summer, now that I'm not working at the yarn shop and have lots of extra time (ha ha!) I will get around to going through all my old-school pictures - in boxes, without dates.  What about you?  Do you keep up on this?  

The last picture I took of him. 


Anonymous said...

Keep it up Karen, love your photos...Cheryl

Thimbleanna said...

Wow -- I feel like I could have written your lovely post -- except for the part about how you're organizing everything -- I SO need to do that! I hear the bit about "we never see the pictures" from my family too -- which is only partially true -- they get the pictures most of the time, just not always in 5 minutes like they want! And, this past month, I've realized that I've failed in the group shot area -- I was horrified that we haven't had a good family picture for years. We do have one of all of us when we did our gingerbread houses this year, but it's not good of everyone and those dumb houses are in the shot. ;-(

I also can never find the pictures that I want and I've done the month year thing too, so that at least helps a little. How are you tagging your photos -- in photoshop? And do you have a hard time deciding just how to tag them all?

Anyway, thanks for an inspiring post. Now, if you could just send me some extra time ... ;-D