I learned a lot this weekend, in my grand attempt to shoot the cover photo for my book. I learned that you can make a HUGE mess in a very short period of time when staging a photo. I learned that our home is just that - a 'home,' and not a photo set, and that there isn't a square foot in the house that isn't 'marred' by imperfection (of course, we love it that way). I learned that blueberry muffins aren't the best idea if you don't want stained faces/fingers/clothes in the 'perfect' shot. I learned that lighting is a very, very, very, very tricky thing to figure out. I learned where my camera manual was (missing for a year). I learned a lot about my camera.
I learned that children - especially my adventuresome, curious, energetic, independent-thinking little ones - instantly lose any sense of 'creativity' once they're asked/told/begged/bribed exactly what to be doing by a desperate, directive Mama. And I learned that hours worth of planning for a shot can end up amounting to about one minute worth of photo-worthy attention span if you're under the age of 7. And that there's really nothing you can do to change that, except move on to something else.
Thankfully, I learned that it's important to know when you're in over you head, and when to ask for help. And I learned how lucky I am to have generous and talented friends who happen to be wonderful photographers, who will save me from myself. The kind of friend who'll answer, "yes we can and we will!" to my whining pleas of "i can't do this!"; who will quietly give up the first sunny weekend of the season with her own family to be with mine; who doesn't mind taking hundreds of pictures to get that one shot; and who does it all with a contagious smile on her face. A good friend, I tell you. A good friend, indeed.
And last, I think I learned a lot about what kind of photography I do best. Much like parenting, I think I work best not by being the planner and director, but by following the lead of the little ones around me. By engaging and encouraging, and quietly watching and waiting, and by letting things unfold in front of me, naturally and beautifully as they always do. Then, and only then do I get my shot. The planning thing? Doesn't work for me in this case. Really, it's just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.....and with the right people (Those four people above? My favorite subjects, naturally).
(What, you thought I'd show you the cover photo? Oh no...not even a tiny glimpse...I'm pretty sure it's like a wedding dress, you know. Bad luck, or something. I can hardly wait.)