Ease versus Simplicity

This morning I started my day by doing the easiest thing possible: I snoozed my alarm and got back in bed. Life has been a little overwhelming lately and I’m tired.  I didn’t go back to sleep so I started thinking about the idea of ease. Getting back in bed had been easy, at least right at that moment. What else could I do to make my day easy?  (These thoughts were at least partially related to the book I’m currently reading, which is called SLOW.)   Should I take my son to a tumbling class today? That would definitely not be easy since I would have to wrangle him to sit on the potty, pester him to get ready to go, plan ahead so we’d be on time, bring something for me to do while he’s tumbling, and plan all that around a phone call that I had scheduled with my friend. Should I take him to a local museum where we have a membership? Much easier. We could go whenever we wanted, stay as long as we wanted, and be home for lunch.

When I made it down to breakfast, I asked my husband to compare ease to simplicity for me.  His answer: one is easy to do, the other is easy to understand.  As I thought more about it, I realized that maybe what I want is simplicity, not ease.  I don’t always want to take the easiest way out (or teach that to my kids by my example). But I don’t want things to be overwhelmingly complex or have so many steps but I can’t think about anything else while doing them.  Is it simpler to make baked potatoes for dinner instead of oven roasted veggies?  And easier too? Is it easier and simpler to go to a museum on my own time frame instead of trying to juggle my day around a tumbling class?  Maybe trying to do things in a simpler way could give me back some time in my day, reduce the load on my brain, and decrease my stress.   I don’t seem to be alone in my desire for simplicity.  Simplicity seems related to the minimalist and slow life movements, as well as to mindfulness.

Does this idea of keeping things easy to understand apply to photography? I think it can. If simplicity is making things easy to understand, then simplicity in photography could mean making your image’s message and your reason for taking the picture easy to understand.  This might be simplicity, but it is not easy. Yesterday I spent time photographing my kids and five of their friends playing with Legos. The friends were at my house and they were all having a good time, so I pulled out my camera.  It wasn’t easy photography – there were a whole bunch of kids moving around inside of a small space. But it was in line with my value of documenting things that are naturally occurring, that are real, that are part of my family’s everyday life.  Hopefully that reason shines through with simplicity.


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