Thursday, February 24, 2011

Are You Disappointed With Your Photos?

Soccer games.
Birthday parties.

You remembered your camera (shocker!) - your handy point-and-shoot or your new snazzy DSLR.

You snap away.

At the end of the day (or week or month), you upload your photos. You scroll through and shake your head.

You're bummed. Because - they just aren't very good.

You knew they wouldn't be. They never look like the ones on "those" blogs or in "those" magazines. Heck, they don't even look as good as Aunt Margie's Facebook photos.

You looked out of the corner of your eye at the guy at this morning's soccer game with the $2,000 camera and 17 lenses, and at some point, he looked over at you and gave you - and your point-and-shoot - a very "nice" smile. Then he spent the rest of the morning squatting down, moving around, and running down the field to get just the right angle of his little Sally - who was just picking at the dandelions anyway - which somehow gave you a smidgen of unexpected satisfaction.

You're certain his photos are everything that yours - aren't.

Your eyes pan back to your computer screen - an album's worth of photos of your little one running down the field in a pack, and - you're disappointed.

Let me tell you this: You are not alone.

I have felt this. I feel this. As a food photographer, I take professional photos of food as part of my job. But, when it comes to photographing my kids - oh, do I know this disappointment.

But, can I share something I'm learning with you?

Unless you are a professional who is getting paid - perfectly exposed, tack sharp, amazingly clear quality is not the point.

It just isn't.

For years, our parents and grandparents and everyone else under the sun took photos of us with cheap, simple point-and-shoot cameras. I mean, who doesn't have a box full of old school Polaroids?

The quality of those photos in no way diminishes their sentimental value, does it?

No way!

What matters in each of those photos is the memory. That one moment in time that was captured by someone who wanted to remember. And, wanted to be able to look back and remember, again.

That is absolutely, positively the point.

Somehow, in this land of digital cameras with unlimited, free exposures, seemingly everyone and their brother's cousin is a "photographer".

But, unless you are a professional, amazingly sharp photos with perfect exposure, clarity, and composition are gonna happen one in a thousand - especially when you are photographing fidgety children at a special event and allowing yourself to be present and enjoy the moment, and not living behind the camera.

The photos you see on "those" blogs and in "those" magazines? Most of them are taken in staged environments, with perfect lighting and uber expensive cameras, and then they've been Photoshopped TO DEATH. Or, more appropriately, Photoshopped to life? They most definitely didn't come off of a camera card looking that way.

When we look back on photos of our children 20 years from now, will the quality of the photos be what matters? Will the strength of the composition or the lack of perfect lighting be what sticks out to us?

I seriously doubt it.

What will matter is that we took them. That we even have these snapshots of time - of precious memories of the ones we love. To sit with our children and our grandchildren and remember the joy of a little six year-old, who is now a Dad himself, running down the soccer field.

So, whether you've got a point-and-shoot, a new camera you're trying to figure out, or you are dabbling in photography as a hobby, keep on clicking. Upload your photos and fill up that card, again.

And, again. And, again. And, again.

You are a mom. A wife. A daughter. A granddaughter. Who sees her family through her camera in a way that no one else can see them.

Being a doting Mom who wants to remember? Today and tomorrow, that is way more important than being a polished photographer.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Always preview your comments, LOL

    You hit the nail on the head Sarah. Even though I lived with a pro-photographer, we still have tons of point and shoot shots that aren't special, but are totally priceless.

    The best advice for any parent, "Take a million photos!" You cannot go back and redo life. Someday even the out of focus shots will be come priceless and a door to the memories of all the years you never want to forget.

    Loved this post!

    Love that you are doing the 365 of the kids. You will never, ever regret it.

  3. Great post! I'm preparing to take family photos for my husband's great-grandmother's 99th birthday party this weekend. We bought a DLSR in November and I'm still learning, so it's great to remember that it's all about the memories. I will say, however, that my photography improved with the new camera and the ability to control the settings.

  4. Beautiful post and just what I needed to hear today!

  5. "You are a mom. A wife. A daughter. A granddaughter. "



  6. @Zane - HAHA.

    I should have written, "You are Uncle Zane." :)

  7. I needed this. I have so few pictures of my kids because I hate the pictures i take. A monkey could take better pictures. But I hate how undocumented our lives are. I need to shut up and click. Thank you.

  8. So true!!
    But, you forgot one thing...."the photographer needs to make sure they are at least occasionally in the photos too" !!!!!
    (I am not in many of our photos!)