Staying in the Frame

I took a break from culling my family Easter photos to read this article. I loved it. My husband has many good qualities but he often seems to forget that we don’t need to worry about the cost of film these days, and will take a single photo of me and not bother to check if it’s in focus and at all decent/flattering. I was heartbroken after our UK trip when the one photo I had asked him to take, he had taken a single one and it was blurry. We had nowhere to go, and there was no reason that he couldn’t have checked the d*mn viewfinder to make sure our kid and I were in focus. I got pretty mad about it and after much complaining from me, he has improved dramatically, but we still have some of these issues.

Worse is my Dad, who is obsessed with documenting photos but takes terrible and unflattering photos that I don’t want to look at or share.  The complaints of my female friends whose spouses or other family members consistently cut off their heads or don’t focus the camera properly in their zeal to get photos, and never take a moment to look at the back of the camera and see if they got something usable, are numerous.

I’m not a photographer, but a few tips, especially if like a lot of people, you bought a DSLR when you had a baby but never actually use it. First of all, leave your camera out and accessible when you are doing a fun activity so that your spouse remembers to take photos. Secondly, if you are out hiking or playing and bring a camera, make sure to trade off. Nothing reminds the other person to take a few photos like having a heavy camera around their neck. Third of all, if possible, remind them/remember that downward angles are the most flattering, and sometimes, it is okay to interrupt a moment and worry about preserving it by telling a person their hair is in their face (read the room on this one though). Don’t take photos of people while you are sitting and they are standing. If possible, just stand up. Fourth, don’t ever imply somebody is vain because they want a photo of themselves or their kid. Fifth, hire a professional for a family shoot every once in awhile.  Six, keep some of the unflattering photos even if you hate them. Seven, buy clothes you like that you look good in and wear them for special occasions where you know somebody will take a photo. Eight, buy clothes you like that you look good in for family vacation so you don’t hate the way you look in a photo of you with your awkward hiking pants and your stained performance wear shirt that hits you in all the wrong places.

My childhood was well documented on film, but my Dad has been going through slides lately and lamenting how few non-posed photos there are of my mother and her sister, and especially of her mother.  My favorite photos of my mother lately have been ones like this:

Printed February 1984

It is not the most flattering photo, or the best in the world, but tell me you don’t look at that and feel the sheer exhaustion of a new mother. I look at this and I feel the sheer weight of everything that hit my mom that year, the loss of her mother, finally getting the baby she wanted so badly, and she doesn’t know it here but I know she’ll be pregnant again 9 months after having this baby. This picture makes me know my mom better.

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