Caleb and I took a short trip to Portland followed by a drive up the Oregon coast. Nearly three hundred photos were captured on my Nikon. Upon reviewing the physical evidence of our trip (immediately after arriving home), I had a strange epiphany of sorts. While all photos provided documentation of our time away, my favorite photos were the ones some may consider to be “out-takes.” Blurry hands, awkward faces, people in their “natural environment.” Un-staged and unrehearsed. Unrefined and raw.
Since purchasing my Nikon, I have yet to edit a single photo. All photos are taken from my camera, imported into Picasa and uploaded to Flickr. I think the idea of “leaf-rubbing” a photo is divine – taking what’s in front of me and pressing it onto paper (or in this case, onto a screen). Taking what is and preserving it for what it is – not trying to make it something it’s not. Editing is a great tool when it comes to selling people things, but I’m not trying to sell you anything. Editing is good for enhancing what’s already there. You can use it to alter images, removing blemishes for example. But I’m trying to document the world as I see it, to share with friends, family and my future self. These days I just want to capture things how they are – Blemishes and all. In one take.
Before the days of Instagram, I was obsessively taking photos of everything everywhere all the time. Most things in front of my lens were food related. Before taking a bite to enjoy my meal, I was arranging my food to make it more “photo-worthy.” It was a running joke for a while; I wouldn’t indulge before snapping a shot. Sometimes that meant turning the plate and changing the angle several times before picking up the fork. Thankfully those days are over, but that hasn’t stopped me from accruing several hundred photos within a week’s time.
We can put the blame on technology; If we were paying for each exposure, I’m sure the amount of “selfies” and portraits of food would dwindle. But we don’t, so they won’t. As a kid, I would purchase a roll a film when special occasions arose – the last day of school, family events, vacations, etc. I was allotted so many exposures, so I had to use them wisely. These days you can take fifty seven photos of yourself and sift through them seconds later, deleting ones where the light hits your nose in an unflattering manner.
I’m sitting on the fence and I still haven’t made up my mind as to which side is greener. On one hand, it’s beautiful to have a physical memento of a moment captured in time. On the other hand, when you stop and pause to snap a photograph, you’re temporarily removing yourself from the situation. With most things, it comes down to moderation. I’m raising my glass to unposed photos – Nouns in their natural habitat. And what about self portraits? I’m not putting a personal ban on “selfies.” If I’m alone on a mountain top with a tripod and wireless remote, you’d better believe I’ll be standing in a Wonder Woman stance, smiling big and snapping a photo. However, from this day forward, I’d like to capture the world around me naturally and organically. Leaf-rubbings.
Something I enjoy most is people watching (mainly because I enjoy sketching them). A few weeks ago I posted an Instagram photo of my POV from Starbucks; I was sat on a love seat across from two chairs. My friend Eric commented, “You are like a spider with an overstuffed leather web.” It’s true; I eat them up. Humans are interesting creatures. We live up to stigmas and stereotypes, but what I adore most about people is unfiltered circumstances. The way they interact with others. Body language. Furrowed brows in line at the post office, nervous tics walking down the sidewalk, poor postures resting in the book store – I think that is more beautiful than a perfectly posed photo and practiced facial expression. And that is the world I want to remember when sifting through photographs of my past. This is the world I want to capture and display on dusty shelves.
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