Let’s be honest, photography isn’t always necessarily about talent, skill, and an eye for composition. (Although these things certainly help, when it comes to making it in the photography biz). Sometimes it’s simply about being in the right place, at the right time, with the right light. Sometimes it’s pure, dumb luck. You can certainly increase your odds of getting that shot by a)carrying your camera with you at all times, and b)knowing enough about photography to recognize an amazing shot when one presents itself to you. But, what it really comes down to, is that sometimes you’re just not going to get that elusive shot, no matter how hard you try. So you have to just keep trying. After all, as photographer Robert Doisneau once said; “If I knew how to take a good photograph, I’d do it every time.” This quote always both brings me back down to earth (when I’m feeling just a leeeeetle too confident about my work) and cheers me up when I’m in a creative slump. It reminds me that we’re all struggling with it. Trying to do that one true beautiful thing (to throw a little Tragically Hip at you there).
The main issue I have with this philosophy though – the “just keep shooting” one – is that it’s just not an option for me. Literally. I often refer to myself as an “opportunistic photographer.” The reason for that is this: I have a three year old daughter (very soon to be four). I’m not stating this as an excuse to be lazy about my photography, or as a complaint that I don’t have enough time to spend working on my photography. It’s just a simple fact. (Oh, also, don’t worry, I promise that I won’t turn this into yet another Mommy-blog, this is just a one-off. There’s enough Mommies out there providing me with daily doses of hilarity via the internet. My input is not required).
But where was I? Oh yes, the three year old. Anyways, the thing is – She’s growing up fast. Like a persistent, lovable, hilarious, goofy, beautiful, strong-willed, hot tempered little weed, she is. And my husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to make the decision for me to stay home and raise our little fairy princess while he goes to work. Without a doubt this is the best job I’ve ever had, raising our daughter. Some days it’s the most challenging, frustrating, teeth clenching, pulling-out-my-own-hair job. But without a doubt, it’s always been the most rewarding. From day one. As I’m sure any stay at home Mom will tell you.
I know my days spent just having idle conversations about why only girl cows can make milk and not boy cows, and road-tripping through the countryside with her, listening to her ongoing chatter from the backseat, and roasting marshmallows over the fire at the cabin while she does her very best to cover herself from head to toe in dirt, and chocolate-smeared kisses, and firm announcements with hand on hip the very second she awakens and emerges from her bedroom to state that she “doesn’t want to has a bath today”, and stamping through muddy fields in yellow wellies and princess dresses are numbered.
So I try and make every minute count. Ok, no, not every minute, that’s just unrealistic. Sometimes we just have quiet, cartoon movies on the couch days, and some days I find myself counting the minutes until my husband comes home because she is driving me MAD with her little stormy moods, that come and go like little tiny hurricanes. But the point is, I love having this time with her. I feel that it’s a gift. And if photography has to sometimes go on the back burner because of that gift, so be it. I can always pour my whole self into my photography later. When she’s not as eager to spend every waking moment with me as I am with her. And I bet my photography, while being a giant passion of mine, will still come in at a pale second to all the time I’ve been able to spend with her.
We’ve spent the summer camping, visiting friends and relatives, road tripping, staying at the cabin, and just basically exploring. Yes, some of those day trips have taken us to places that I’ve been secretly dying to photograph – what of it? 😉 So here’s where my opportunistic nature comes in. I’ve brought my camera gear along on every single one of these outings. And I’ve captured some of those elusive shots that I mentioned. Of course, it always helps to have a wonderful support group of friends and family who are perfectly willing to hang with her while I roam off in search of a particular shot, and then come and find me when she’s upset and just won’t settle without Mommy:) But a lot of the time, it’s been just the two of us. In which case, she becomes the subject, planned or no. And she’s certainly allowed me to brush up on my portraiture skills. And I’m secure in the knowledge that her childhood days are certainly well documented for her to look back on when she’s older. And I hope she remembers all of our little side trips, and unplanned stops, and all the times we took the long way home. I know I will.
And I hope, too, that she remembers the days when I just left the camera at home and turned our faces up toward the sunshine and we just enjoyed the day. Because time is short. Priorities, right?