Always Have A Camera On You
With the holidays being upon us, we’re waist—maybe even neck, or higher—deep in obligations, commitments and responsibilities. It can seem like a miracle to find the time to even eat or breath; time flies by at such a dizzying pace.
If you’re the type of person who finds fulfillment in creative pursuits, you may find it difficult to do that during this time of year. Despite how impossible it may seem, it is possible, but it does require some different approaches.
Photography is my favorite creative endeavor, right next to writing, and one of my preferred methods of making images is to head outside when the light is right and making portraits of other people or interesting buildings and landscapes. It’s hard to beat a beautiful street scene captured photographically after waiting patiently for the perfect moment.
It’s the holidays though, so most time is spent visiting beloved family members in distant lands. How does one make images despite the other commitments? The answer is easy: Always have a camera on you.
Your situation may be different. Whether you have a big family, small family or no family—also, considering that your definition of family may be vastly different than the normal definition—there are ways to be creative and those ways will be different for everyone.
Get Creative to be Creative
This last weekend, it was Thanksgiving. We drove to visit family and it’s always time well spent. Creatively, it presents challenges because the desire to create burns strong. I always have some type of image-making equipment on me and this helps tremendously.
For example, on one particular day we decided to go on a hike. I brought my camera and 50mm lens and told myself to use it at least once while on holiday. Here’s the trick: when you tell yourself to make at least one image, you’ll most likely make another, and then another.
The images you make might not be contest-winning material in the typical sense, but that’s more than okay. The goal here is to simply create. Also, the photos you make while away with family hold a particularly higher value. These photos you make will be memories with loved ones.
Time is fleeting so photos with family become even more important.
We went for a hike and I made some quick images to document our sojourns. The moments had and shared were important to me and therefore, the images were important also.
What resulted was that when I looked back on the images from the last few days, I didn’t make a lot of images, but I couldn’t imagine not making the ones I did.
Something as simple as the family dog, Pepper, looking over a ridge, became beautiful and important and a moment captured in time.
Inspired by Other Artists
A number of photographers have even taken images of their family and the work has been elevated to fine art. Not that this has to be your focus while making personal images, but it’s been done.
Lee Friedlander is one such photographer who comes to mind. With an impressive body of work that covers an even more impressive variety of subject matter, Friedlander made images of his family for years and that work was featured in his book Family in the Picture, 1958-2013.
Gillian Laub used her photo documentary skills to document her family whenever possible. I can’t think a better way of preserving the memories of loved ones and having some control over the all-too-fast movement of time.
Matt Eich makes images of his family that transcends the ordinary and carries it into the realm of art at its finest.
You’ll notice that these photos aren’t directly of people; the images I made over the last few days were of vignettes and objects of personal interest while partaking on family outings.
My examples and this blog post are about photography, but whatever it is you do to create: whether it’s writing, painting, sculpture, etc., it’s important and very possible to create personal work in our immediate environments—wherever that may be—that we can cherish forever.