Wednesday, November 14, 2012

10 photo ideas from my choldhood - thanks Becky Higgins

I thought this was such a brilliant post I had to share it. 

I totally agree with what Becky Higgins is saying - some of our most favourite childhood photos are NOT the perfect ones- they are just the quick snapshots that give us a glimpse of times past with ALL their imperfections. Sometimes it's not you in the foreground that makes it a favourite photo, it's that you're getting out of your Dad's old car, and just a glimpse of it brings the memories flooding back. What will our children have of the background of their lives with all our perfectly cropped photos? Sometimes you need to leave the crappy backgrounds in for everyone in the future to have a laugh at what you were doing, where you were sitting, what you were eating, what you were wearing, what you were watching, etc, etc.

I have added my own photos to emphasise the point in Becky's post, where appropriate. I hope she doesn't sue me!?!?!?!


10 photo ideas from my childhood

November 5th, 2012 If you’ve followed my blog long enough, you know how grateful I am to my parents – particularly my dad – who had a great influence on my love for documenting the everyday. Photography was one of his little hobbies. Funny enough, I really don’t even have memories of my dad behind the camera because I don’t recall him getting our attention and saying “cheese”. He just captured life.
The more vivid memories I have are of him changing out the light bulb in our basement bathroom to the red bulb because that’s how he transformed the little bathroom into a dark room. I loved being in there watching him develop pictures. He invited me to help him as we carefully placed the photo paper in the thing (that clearly I don’t even know what it’s called!) where the light shone through the negative, impressing the image onto the paper. We would then dip the photo paper in the first fluid and then the next and then we would rinse the paper before setting out the photos to dry.
What a sense of satisfaction that was – to develop photographs. I went on to learn more about the dark room with more formal training in high school and I can still smell those chemicals today. Oh, how the times have changed. I appreciate my fond memories, but I’m so grateful that digital photography is what it is today.
Even still – the art of documenting the everyday doesn’t have to be tied to what kind of camera or technology or printer you’re using. It’s about noticing the little things that make up life. And that’s what we’re all trying to do. Here are 10 photos from my own childhood that inspire me on what to document today.
Photo Idea no. 1: Photograph where you watch television – and don’t forget to get the TV in the picture because trust me – it will look like a dinosaur one day.

…Now I know from the real photo that this is me sitting in front of the telly in the lounge room at 109 Stewart St Brunswick, when i am about three but when I scanned it in to my computer I cropped it and obviously didn't keep the original in my computer. So you are missing out on the daggy old telly that had been bought in 1956 to watch the Melbourne Olympics, the daggy brown leaves on the carpet square underneath me (you can just glimpse them) as we didn't have wall to wall carpet so the floor boards were painted dark under the edge of the carpet square where it didn't nmeet the walls, and the HUGE white cracks in the blue painted walls, as this is before the walls were fixed with plaster board and were the original, ancient, lathe and plaster!!!
Photo Idea no. 2: Photograph their collections. Everyone collects something. Maybe your husband collects fishing gear or your sister collects shoes or your child collects key chains. Apparently I went through a phase of collecting stuffed animals. Raise your hand if you feel a little nostalgic seeing Care Bears and Cabbage Patch Dolls in there.

My Georgie and Sebastian with too many soft toys at the start of 2012.
Photo Idea no. 3: Photograph them concentrating. Try to capture a loved one as they focus, while they’re in the zone, as they study, whatever. This is one way to get a glimpse of someone’s personality without them smiling at the camera. My dad captured my love for drawing. Apparently using the kitchen trash can was completely acceptable for whatever ideas I had to get on paper at the time. Whatever works, right?
 My Sebastian totally absorbed, playing with his beloved wrestlers on a day off from school when he wasn't feeling well, in 2009. He played with them EVERY DAY. Now they are packed in a box and he is selling them off gradually. At twelve and a half he is too old for them now. And he will want to kill me when he sees this post as you can see his cute little red jocks in the photo - ha ha!!!
Photo Idea no. 4: Photograph bedtime rituals. It might seem silly to capture something like the kids brushing their teeth, but to this day – it’s one of my favorite shots. Because it wasn’t a special occasion. It wasn’t a trip or a birthday. It was a daily ritual, an everyday routine. The essence of real life. And apparently my idea of brushing teeth was that as long as the toothbrush was in my mouth, my teeth would magically get clean. So that’s where Claire gets that from!

 Sebastian and Georgie sharing orange quarters for a snack! I think she is enjoying it just a little bit!:)
Photo Idea no. 5: Photograph their quirks. We all have quirks, and not just a few. My lifetime quirk is how I compartmentalize. In this picture I’ve sorted rocks, sticks, and pine cones. Today I compartmentalize emails, work flow, laundry, and sometimes even my conversations. Our team had a meeting recently where Kari and Laurie were giggling about the fact that I couldn’t move on to the next topic until I felt like we totally had closure on what we were talking about first. Gotta keep things compartmentalized.
Georgie would just sleep anywhere! I was looking for her, as she was too quiet, and had probably gone to sleep somewhere, and actually walked past her several times before I saw her on the kitchen bench. I just did not expect to see her there as it would have taken a lot of climbing for her to reach that spot. So like every good mother I ran off to find my camera. She's actually sleeping on top of a loaf of bread!!!
Photo Idea no. 6: Photograph breakfast. Simple, I know. But one day you’ll look back – they’ll look back – and you’ll love seeing the spot where you eat and what you’re eating. I always had to have the cereal box right in front of me so I could study the back. And that little bowl next to my cereal bowl? Sugar, of course. Snap, Crackle, Pop.

 Georgie and the gingerbread man she made at Kinder!

 Georgie kissing the gingerbread man goodbye and then devouring him with glee!!!

Photo Idea no. 7: Photograph them at work. Got teenagers earning a wage? I know, I know. Chances are they wouldn’t love you popping into work to snap a picture but remind them of how you wish you had this from your own youth – or how you’re grateful you do have something to show for those earliest jobs (show them pictures of you working if you have them!). My first non-babysitting job was working at the Brunswick Dairy Barn – a little ice cream shop in my town. Hi! What can I get you today?

I wish there were photos of me when I worked as a leader on those  school holiday programs when I was at secondary school. I used to earn a small fortune over those couple of weeks as I was paid as an adult! Watch out Sam when you get your first job!
Photo Idea no. 8: Photograph the work of parenthood. There are so many aspects of parenting that are downright exhausting, such as having a newborn. Even when life feels overwhelming, don’t let that deter you from capturing a few slices of that life here and there. Cameras aren’t designed for just the exciting times. Cameras are designed to capture LIFE – whatever that means at the moment. One of my favorite things about this picture of me and my sweet mama, is that I have a picture like this of me with each of my babies too.

 Hardly a glamour shot of either of us but this is how Georgia used to feed when she was down to a night feed only at 14 months. Look at that BALD head on a 14month old! Finished feeding all three of my babies at 15months!
Photo Idea no. 9: Photograph what they’re reading. These were a few of my books as a teenager. Now – I didn’t take this picture as a teenager, but I came across some these books years after leaving home and snapped this picture so that I had a record (and so I wouldn’t feel obligated to hang on to books that I really didn’t care to cart around for years).
Photo Idea no. 10: How shall I put this? Oh, what a treasure. First of all – we ALL look thrilled, don’t we? Those are my parents, my Grandpa Johnson, my brother Steven, and … that little princess? Yep. that’s me. Pleasant as a peach. Clearly throwing a fit about something. I don’t remember the story behind the photo, but this is why I wanted to share it: We are embarking on a season where many families, as tradition would have it, are having their family pictures taken. That’s great. I love this time of year.
But if you have a cranky one (heck – it could be your husband), or a misbehaving child during the photo session … don’t stress. We’re not aiming for perfection, people. We are aiming to document life. Capture personalities and relationships and REAL LIFE. In other words – when you get outtakes like these, don’t delete them. In fact, I would be so delighted if more people sent out Christmas card photos that look like this one.  ; )
 Our Puffing Billy portrait on Sebastian's 4th birthday - and we all remember that Jacko, aged 7, refused to get into the photo, so we took it without him! And Georgie is so BALD, she has less hair than Jeff!
 Now how glamorous am I in this shot!!!!! Yes, that's me front left, with my very usual photo scowl, I had no idea how to smile for a camera, absolutely unphotogenic me! I reckon it's about 1968 which makes me 6 and Tom 4. I was so tall and thin, and what a gorgeous haircut I have - not! That is my Mum's cousin Janice back left, my Mum in the middle and Jan's friend Judy on the right - those were the days!
 Another glamor shot of me, hey, they all are aren't they, with Tom, possibly about to scream his head off and Father Christmas. Tom has always said this is me doing my Carol Channing impersonation - thanks!

So now you have all laughed your faces off at my (and Becky Higgins) expense I hope you remember that some of our most treasured photos are the most awful and ordinary and deserve as much space in our scrapbooks, if not more, than the perfect shots! 
Shell :)

Here is a link to Becky Higgin's brilliant blog!

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