(Jeremy on Valentine’s Day 2017… this photo is mostly unrelated, but I love it and had to post it)
Something about having a baby on our horizon has been sending me into evaluation-mode in many areas of our life. I know I need to redo our pantry, redo our linen closet, print all our vacation photos out and things like that. But I also have lists of internal things- attitudes that I want to change, mindsets that need to be updated, things to let go of, things to embrace.
The photos I take of our life, is one of many things that I’ve been wanting to improve.
I have a feeling this may be a long post, but I really want to open up this topic because I have a feeling that it’s not just me. Some of your might have these same struggles. Instagram is the best and worst thing that ever happened to my photography. At the moment I am typing this I have posted 5,181 photos on my personal IG. I started posting around the time we got married and so the timing was extra lucky. It’s very cool to have all our married memories all in one place… almost six years of memories. A couple times a year I will scroll way, way back and get lost in the nostalgia. I have books made for almost all these photos. And Instagram comments I got on this feed were literally the inspiration for our first app, which changed our lives forever.
My photography has improved in this span of time, but even more so, my styling abilities. Before Instagram I didn’t have an occasion to do much styled photography. I didn’t know how. But in these past six years it has become 90% of what I shoot. Even though I am not an interior designer I have a design portfolio of dozens of rooms that I am incredibly proud of. I know how to set up and execute all kinds of shoots from fashion to interiors to food and even very curated lifestyle photos that feature products. My sister and I even shot all of the food photography for our upcoming cookbook.
So I want to start off by acknowledging how cool and helpful all this practice has been! I didn’t know how to do any of this stuff before I was on Instagram and I do think that the challenge of wanting to improve and improve and improve has been really motivating for me and I’ve grown more and faster in these skills than I ever expected. I’m really proud of all this.
A lot of these styled shots have something to do with my work, but the ones that don’t are also way more styled. And when I scroll through my feed at all my friends’ photos- they are so very styled. It’s become almost awkward to post a bad photo… even when it’s a good memory.
It really bothers me that nowadays my brain thinks in photo shoots, even when we’re on vacation… even when I want to get just a couple new photos with my husband “just to have”. It’s so hard to turn it off.
I am currently struggling hard to re-develop the other side of my photographer brain. I have a drastic on/off switch in my mind and when I am not trying to get a certain styled shot on my to-do list I barely remember to take any photos. Most of the photos I have of our home are from room tours and most of the photos I have of us together are from photo shoots and vacations.
When I’m not in that photoshoot mode, I forget the take photos completely. It’s not even that I don’t want to take random snapshots, but it’s that I don’t think to. And even though I love the like of ultra-curated Instagram feeds I also feel that I want our daughter to have other kinds of memories to look back on. I want her to have bad photos too. I want her to have photos where we look crappy, where we’re blinking, where we’re all a mess.
There is a lot I miss about film in the pre-digital days. I didn’t get my first digital camera until I was in my twenties, so I took hundreds of rolls of film before that. I loved the feeling of dropping the rolls off, waiting an hour and then getting back the paper envelope full of photos. I took rolls of all black and white film and tried all different kinds of specialty film from our local camera store. And I loved the limitation of it all, the commitment of using a roll that would only produce black and white photos. I loved getting back a roll and finding my few favorites. I didn’t mind the photos where people were blinking or making a bad face. I was used to that.
Digital cameras are a miracle to me and I treasure them, but I also resent how picky they’ve made us all. And I think it’s annoying how we don’t print off those in-between moments anymore. We only print the best of the best, if that.
Lately I’ve been taking my instax camera with me more. I have a new camera bag where it fits perfectly so I can have it with me almost all the time. I love those pics because they’re random and honestly, kind of crappy, but SO special!!! We have a bowl of them in our living room and I love seeing all our random memories, all mixed together.
I’ve also been thinking about vacations and how my (sometimes intense) IG to-do list affects Jeremy. And I’ve been thinking a lot about what kind of habits I want to have for my mom-photography. AUGH- it’s so nerve wracking to think about.
On one hand, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with posed or styled photos. I really don’t and I’m not throwing shade at anyone who loves those photos or takes them exclusively. I just feel like, for myself, I want more in-between moments than what I’m currently getting. And with a kiddo on the way I want to hone these skills because I am SO rusty.
I’ve been really struggling with how to have the right mindset. The right expectations. I think that to really be in the moment and not in my IG brain I need to learn to accept ok photos, maybe even crappy photos at times? I think I need to expect so much less out of them. They can’t always be color coordinated and perfectly lit and perfectly styled… because that’s a photo shoot- that’s not life.
On our next couple trips (which are coming up soon… we’re leaving in two days for one) I am going to PRACTICE my new mindset. I am not going to set a goal of getting any certain styled photos. I am only going to set the intention to get photos when I can and expecting less of them. I want to come home with more memories.
I do realize it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, so I’m just going to practice for now.
Thanks for listening. Wow- that was a long post. haha!
ps. Really happy to have a new design. Mandi designed it for me, and she did a beautiful job. It reflects our really simple goals here, which are mainly just to keep posting photos of our family. I wanted to get it refreshed before our little girl arrived (check, check, check- I am really killing it at my goals lately because I’ve been pretty anxious and in need of distractions). You’ll notice I added a link to our Nashville guide to the sidebar (one of the things I get a lot of emails and DMs about). We also have a tab at the top where all our adoption posts will be archived together.