Friday, August 6, 2010

on NOT taking pictures

This summer I tried to see things without the lens a little bit more (I know you’ll never believe me after seeing the hoards of pictures I’ve been posting, but believe me, I really have been exercising serious restraint).

Because sometimes "real life" is so much more vivid when I step out from behind the lens. (And, if I'm not careful, I'm going to drive my family nuts with all my picture-taking.)

So I’ve been working on taking pictures in my mind.

Like that day a couple weeks ago when I asked Grace to get going on bathing herself and her little sisters when we came up from the beach. I walked into the bathroom to see those three girls lined up in the tub and the light from a nearby window was hitting them at just the perfect angle. Their little heads were lit up like they had halos glowing around them. Grace and Claire were smiling while rubbing in their shampoo and Lucy’s head was cocked over, leaning on the edge of the tub, hair still dry and tousled from the wind and the sand at the beach. There was just something about that scene that spoke to me. My girls. How I adore them.

And then when we were driving on the other side of the lake right just as the sun was sinking behind the mountains. The way the light was angled over this particular field with a barn perched in the middle took my breath away. The round hay bales stood at attention glinting in the sun. To me it symbolized hard work and pure beauty. As we slipped by in our car it was all I could do not to whip into a U-turn to turn around and capture it. My heart was stuck back there on that field and was stretching so far I thought it must surely snap. But I was able to carefully detach it and explain what I loved about it to my kids instead. (They breathed a sigh of relief that we could keep on our way instead of pulling out the good ol' sixth kid...the camera).

And somehow, it's ok to have that etched in my memory instead of on some file on my computer.

I wish I could somehow capture the discussion my children and I had on our road trip on our way to Bear Lake. We had the best talk about making decisions in advance and how doing so could really affect their lives (I'm gonna have to do a whole post about that "decisions in advance" mumbo-jumbo some time because man alive, I think my parents were on to something on that one). It was more of a feeling moment than a picture moment as we drove along through that beautiful scenery. The love in our car was so strong I felt like it may pop the windows right out.

And then there is that picture I have etched in my mind from the last three crunched in a corner of our tiny powder room reading book after book after book to Lu, who sits naked on the toilet in front of me. How the slanting light from the one non-burned-out light bulb lights up her face just so...

I kid...that's NOT a picture I want to keep in my mind or on my hard drive...this is killing me.

So I'll revert to the beautiful memories...maybe that'll get me through potty-training my last child.


  1. O please O please O please DO write a post on making decisions in advance! I think that topic would be BEYOND helpful to so many of your readers, if not every single one!
    Thanks for sharing your life with your readers--- it is a blessing to us all!

  2. You know how true that is! I feel like sometimes I don't "feel" life always behind camera...I just want to be part of it...not flashing it!

    But, it's a constant struggle b/c then I want a "memory" of that moment!

    it's hard...i cant' find that balance with my camera-
    Sandy Toe

  3. I love that post! I haven't been taking as many pictures either. Sometimes I feel like I lose the moment trying to capture the moment. I want to be involved and a part of the moment. I do love to look back at all the pictures that I have though! Which is why I have loved my little point and shoot this summer. Just like you said finding the balance!

  4. Can I tell you just how difficult this struggle is for me, too? I want to freeze everything. Every moment. Every tip of the head, every piece of windswept hair, every tiny grin. I actually feel myself panic a bit if I don't have my camera to capture it. BUT, I'm missing the REAL joy of those moments by worrying about it. I think next time I see one out of the corner of my eye, I will stare real hard, then write down why it means so much to me. :)

  5. So very true! I recently left my thriving photography business to be home with my family. I am also constantly wanting to whip out my camera everywhere we go to capture every little memory, and my family actually started groaning when I'd pack it for outings. I'm working on more balance, but it's hard! Good for you for really making an effort!

  6. so do i have to decide in advance that i'm going to have a good attitude about potty training?

  7. I feel the way you do everyday. I have to resist the urge to document my days to death. I think that it is all part and parcel of having the call of motherhood. You don't want to let one day, one magical second or one moment of beauty go by. Life is precious and fleeting. I was just talking about this with my best friend. These are the best days of our lives while are children are young. Why wouldn't you want to remember the moments in every sense possible? I am so thankful that I am nuts and have photographed all those little moments. Because someday when your old and gray, hopefully those photos (along with some cliffnotes) will take you back to how that moment "felt", not just the memory of it. Now I just need to suck it up and buy the "good" camera to take them all with!

  8. i have had this on my mind a lot lately... cuz, well, i take a LOT of photos.
    sometimes i take them because i fear they will be the last. i fear that something horrific will happen the next second and i will regret not taking it, as it would have become the most priceless photo in my life.
    other times i take it to remember... because i don't want to forget any of this thing called life.
    but sometimes it feels like a chore... something i am doing so i have another blog entry or something. and this past vacation i honestly intended to take a billion photos, but between my two babies i had NO WAY of taking pictures... just living them.
    which reminds me of a john mayer song:
    Didn't have a camera by my side this time
    Hoping I would see the world with both my eyes...
    You should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes

    anyways, good luck with that potty training. it wont be long before i am in your shoes! ACK!

  9. When are you going to write that next book! You are some kind of amazing writer. I totally agree about taking pictures in your mind and it's even better when you write about it, but before you can write it you have to really see it, which you do maybe because of your lens-trained eye! Good on you!

  10. Ditto to what CCB said - exactly! :)


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