I was leaving the library, carrying books and keeping three little ones from walking into a busy street. My middle girl was standing directly behind me, out of view. I was turning from side to side looking for her. The man who held the door for us said, “Looks like you’ve got your hands full.” I do. It’s easy to see when I’m out in the world. I often feel like a mother duck clucking to my ducklings as we cross streets and navigate stores together.
What is easy for a stranger on the street to see is sometimes hard for me to remember. I wonder why I don’t get more done. Why is there a pile clothes in sizes no one can currently wear in the corner of my bedroom? Why do phone calls and emails go unanswered and birthday cards go unsent? Why is it so hard to get the pictures I take of friends’ kids back to them? Why am I not doing more with my photography?
That last question is the one that is most on my mind recently. Positive comments about my photos often end with suggestions about what I could do with my work – start a business, put together a book… I always appreciate the comments and suggestions. I think about the same things myself. Who doesn’t want to be recognized and paid for what they do well and enjoy doing? I look around me. There are plenty of examples of mothers who accomplish all sorts of things while at the same time raising their children. At the same time, I’ve made choices. We’re going on four kids. I homeschool them. I look at them and love what is filling my days. I also am aware that they will not always be who they are today and will need much less from me as they grow. When that happens, will I find that the ship has sailed without me? Or will I be glad that I was with them when they were small?
I give an answer about what I do or don’t do with my photography that sometimes sounds hollow and other times rings true. I say, “Right now, I’ve got my hands full.”
Simple Technical Information: When I first got my digital camera, I was happy with my photos “straight out of the camera” or unedited. (If you see someone refer to their photo as “SOOC” this is what they are talking about.) I would upload the photos from my card into iphoto and admire them as they were. Soon I started using the editing in iphoto. I’d add some blacks, adjust the white balance, or convert an image to black and white.
Then I started poking around in Lightroom. There was so much there to work with that I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know what half of the adjustments were. I really started to enjoy editing when I was doing a photo a day for my 365 Project. I could learn about the adjustments a little at a time.
Now, I don’t feel like a photo is presentable without some amount of editing. Here is what this photo looked like straight out of the camera.
Converting it to black and white was an easy choice. The colors didn’t add anything to the image (even though I do like the green hair elastic). I cropped it. Cropping is a very subjective process. I go back and forth with the cropping while doing other editing. I try to get rid of distracting elements and balance the picture. In this one, I liked the part of my daughter’s face that was in the frame, but it drew my eyes to her face instead of keeping the focus on the hands.
I think of my original photo like a first draft. Sometimes more rewriting needs to be done. Sometimes very little.