Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Two In A Series: Why

First up: more meta. Are you bored of this yet, people? I expect so, because I surely am.

Turns out IntenseDebate is like a bad, bad boyfriend. Seems so fine. Looks so good. Says all the right things. Then he lets you down. You get over it. You move on, maybe go back to the one who was there all along. Then he comes back into your life, saying 'Hey, baby! Remember me?' and promising that things have changed. You waver, then let him back in, maybe against your better judgement. Your future looks so bright. And then, then, oh, then.... he breaks your heart all over again.

And by break your heart, of course, I mean swallows your comments.

I got an unexpected email the day after I published my last post, from another blogger, saying that all of my comments (by which I mean your comments of course, dear readers) had been redirected to her blog. Which was a bit surprising for her. Turns out the delightful people at IntenseDebate tech support had done something with her blog, and then when they fixed mine they left her codes in the template. Or something equally helpful. I don't know quite what. Not knowing about all this stuff is why I do not work in IT. Anyway, we both contacted tech support about it, and they haven't got back to either of us. In the end, she managed to let the comments through to me a few hours ago, I've copied them as text into blogger, and deleted IntenseDebate from my system forever. I am super cranky about this, mostly because of the time we've both wasted. But we all have better things to do than think about my commenting system, right? Like watching some paint dry.

And so, onward and upward! This has galvanised me into thinking that yep, I am finally going to have to make the big move over to wordpress, for all kinds of boring reasons. But not today. Today I'm moving on to a photography topic that probably should have come first of all:

3: Think About Why You Are Pressing The Shutter

This one is short and simple.

You don't have to be taking wonderful photographs to make those photographs worth taking. But I think that you do have to be taking them purposefully.There are many, many excellent reasons to press the shutter on your camera, from 'ahhhh, that's another Pulitzer Prize for me!' to 'I just like the clicky noise that it makes'. The only truly bad reason, in my opinion, is 'It's digital, so I don't have to think about it! I just leave my index finger on the button all the time!'

When you turn into Digital Dan, it's likely that you'll end up with a computer full of images that you'll never look at, because you never really wanted them in the first place. So another way to ask 'why am I pressing the shutter?' is to ask 'why will this photo make me smile when I find it on my computer?'

For family photos (which is what I'm talking about here) I think there are two particularly good reasons to click: either I want a nice photo or I'm recording a happy memory. There can be overlap, of course, but usually it's one or the other. (Trying to get both at once can be a very effective shortcut to ruining a happy family occasion, she said from experience).

I should have written this topic first, as some kind of disclaimer. Because mostly, what I'm wanting to write about in this series is the pretty photos. You already know how to take the happy memory photos, right? Really, you don't need me, or anyone else, to tell you that it's a good idea to get some kind of record of your child's first birthday party. And nobody takes those 'just given birth' photos because they think they will look good in a modelling portfolio. But sometimes, when you start thinking about pretty photos, you can look at the memory photos and think 'arrgghhhh! I'm so embarrassed!' which is not the point of this series at all. Just know why you're taking the photo, and asssess the results against the purpose. If you wanted a beautiful photo, and you got a beautiful photo, then you've succeeded. If you wanted a beautiful photo, and it's not quite beautiful but you're practising, then you've succeeded. And if you wanted something to remember a special day by, and you get an out of focus child blurring through a wonky frame, covered in cake and butt-naked, and you're going to look at it in ten years and smile, well that's definitely succeeding too.

If you're interested in developing the aesthetic appeal of your photos, it's absolutely imperative to develop a critical eye (which is another topic to come). But it's just as important to be able to turn that critical eye off when it's not needed. It's definitely worth taking what you know about making pretty photos when you take memory photos. But if you get too caught up in wanting the composition, the light, the background and the matching outfits to be perfect, when all that stuff isn't why you're taking this particular photo, you'll be tempted to say 'naaaaah, I'm not going to bother'. And the photo you don't bother to take definitely won't be a success.

So before you click, think. Why am I taking this? If it's for memories, click with impunity and don't worry about anything else. But if you want to take it up a notch too.... that's when things start to get really interesting.


  1. Claudia,I don't know why you are having such trouble with your comments. I have blogger and I don't have trouble with my comments. You leave me comments all the time and there's never a problem! I wonder what's up?

    Anyway, I love this thread about photography. The why is so important. Thanks for bringing it up. What's next????

  2. Stick with blogger! I love blogger.

    Only thing I don't love is how I can't schedule posts anymore - hmmm, actually that's cramping my style big-time so I may consider the big move if I absolutely have to!

    I had to do the same on my professional blog because I just don't have the time to be going in a couple of times a week to post - on wp i write about 4 posts and schedule, never think about it for 2 weeks, and then repeat LOL

    LOVE the photography series. I have stopped taking photos because I HATE DOWNLOADING AND SORTING. That is pathetic and I must stop the laziness.

  3. Yes, I did something with my hair! I put it up out of my way!!! You are so funny.

    Let's bug blogger to add the features we want! I've thought about moving to wordpress, but it tires me thinking of it.

    Loving the photography pointers. Trying to use them!

  4. I like reading your posts about photographs because I've been trying really hard to take better ones. Not sure if it's working!? Sigh.

    Blogger bugs me when I'm trying to upload photos. The spacing gets all bajacked and I hate how you can't rearrange them once you've uploaded them. Grrrr!

  5. I am soaking in your words. (Oh, and hello C and anyone else these comments might be going to, haha!). I too often try to capture a happy memory by trying to force it into a good picture, and I get frustrated and ruin the moment for everyone. It's so nice to simply see that they are separate things. It definitely a plus to get a nice photo of a happy memory, but not necessary. Thanks for that. My girls thank you for that too. :)

    (yes, come to wordpress! Then I can post comments without having to do it under my blogger ID...b/c blogger won't always let me post under wordpress...lame-ohs blogger is sometimes.)

    New blog...
    eastiopians.wordpress.com even though blogger wants you to believe I am still at my old blog.

    Keep the photo posts coming please! Hugs!

  6. have to say, I'm completely enjoying your photography lesson posts... and I've been trying to apply them, although I will admit the occasional lapse into point and shoot happiness...


Over to you!