One of ten, or ten of one?

Yesterday afternoon my son came into our house to show off a bow and arrow that he’d been making in the backyard. At the end of the day I realized I hadn’t taken a picture of his creation or the look of pride on his face. One of the things that first attracted me to photography was the promise of being able to record memories for my children. Some time in the future I can imagine showing my son pictures of his homemade bow and arrow.  I can imagine his delight at having his creations documented.

This missed opportunity made me ponder the question, “Would I rather have ten pictures of one memory or have one picture of ten different memories?” I think I’ve been so focused on photography sessions that I’ve gotten in the habit of taking ten (or twenty or a hundred) pictures of a single activity.  Here’s an example of what I mean, taken during about about thirty minutes of Lego time:

While I’m glad I have these pictures to document the thirty minutes my kids spent playing Legos, I wonder what other activities happened during the day that I missed?  Sometimes ten pictures of one activity is not what I want for my own family’s photographic record.  I hope to use pictures to record a variety of memories and document everyday life for my children in the future. Taking one picture of ten activities during the day requires that I shift from the “session” mentality.  It requires that I have my camera handy, that I be thinking about photography before I ever get the camera, and that I master the manual controls.

I recently read an interesting blog post on Letthekids.com about using film photography to limit the number of pictures you take, thus making each picture more purposeful and intentional.  The blog post author, a mother, took just one roll of film on her family vacation with just ten exposures on it.  She used the roll to capture ten moments on the vacation, and was present with her kids for all the other moments instead of being on the other side the camera.

I haven’t used a film camera since I was in high school and I’ve never used a SLR in manual mode with film (instead of digital).  The mature photographers at Schenectady photographic society have indicated that shooting in film changes your photography for the better – it forces you to craft with picture without the instant feedback of the LCD screen.  It makes you more intentional with each picture, with each exposure on your roll of film, instead of shooting one hundred digital pictures to see if you got anything good.

I’m going to try it out. I’m going to aim for ten purposeful pictures throughout the day instead of ten (or one hundred) pictures of one thing. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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