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Photography – saving my sanity one snap at a time

Posted Jun 13 2011 12:00am

Here is a guest post from Spudballoo who blogs over at Chez Spud .  I have a blogcrush on Spudders … I like to call her Spudders (although I bet it won’t say that on the restraining order *cough*).  In court I will say that she stalked me first when she left a comment on my blog.  I stalked her right back and the rest is history.  She looks amazing in a moustache, her photography is beautiful but I frown upon her obsession with tent carpets …

Oooh guest blogging at Laura’s gaff, what could be finer? I’m never sure what you’re supposed to write about for guest posts, so I thought I’d share the story of how I got in to photography and why I love it.

I’m still relatively new to photography, we’re past the first date stage but I’m probably still in the honeymoon period. I do hope that I’ll be left with an enduring, life-long love once the first flames of passion have died away. I would hate to think that this is just a fad and, I’m fairly certain that the combined forces of MrAmericanExpress and MrSpud might be a bit peeved if it turns out that me and photography destined to be just a holiday romance. Time will tell.

So, 2.5 years ago I was a happy snapper with beaten up point & shoot which I could barely use. I had no interest in photography, MrSpud was the nominated family photographer and I endured his snappy habits with ill-disguised irritation. “Come ON!”, I’d yell as we were, yet again, delayed by him hanging back on a walk to photograph some leaf or other item of seemingly no interest. In my book, the only photos worth taking were of people. Ideally my children since, in my mind at least, there are no more beautiful people on the planet that my two lovely boys. But how times change! Now it’s me dragging my feet taking photos of everything and nothing, and it’s MrSpud chivvying me along. Oh, sweet irony.

My conversion from the ‘dark side’ was sudden and dramatic. My best friend, now a professional photographer, suggested I join in with a group she was part of on Flickr…a Photo365 project which, as the name implies, involves taking a photo every day. I don’t really know why I joined in, a bit of peer pressure and wanting to be part of the group (all people I knew). Certainly, at that stage, it had very little to do with wanting to learn photography. Basically I’m a bit of a sheep: I don’t lead, I follow. I’m OK with that.

I bumbled along for a few days snapping pictures of this and that. Then, one morning, the tree in front of our house looked so beautiful in the early morning mist and sunshine. It was like a light switch going on. I absolutely HAD to take capture it…not just snap it, but really capture it. The point & shoot wasn’t around, I grabbed MrSpud’s DSLR and took the photo that set me down the path to an expensive photography kit habit ;-)

I love this tree for the role it played in giving me the gift of a love of photography. Thank you tree of loveliness [takes a moment to hug tree] xxx

Here it is, almost a year to the day after I took my ‘life changing shot’ of it. I love this photo, is it wrong to say that? Too late! I said it…

Soon I wasn’t happy sticking the Big Girl’s Camera, as the DSLR became known, on auto and hoping for the best. Books were bought and read, photography magazines consumed by the bucketload, online groups terrorised with endless questions. And, through a long process of trial and error, I finally got the hang of shooting manually (ie. twizzling the nobs myself rather than letting the camera do it for me). My camera became my constant companion and no moment of our lives was left undocumented in my obsessive quest for ‘the shot of the day’ that the Photo365 project inspired in me. Pretty soon my children got a bit fed up of my constant snapping and made their feelings remarkably clear… …but it was nothing that a little bribery could overcome and these days they are surprisingly compliant models.

I have so, so many photos of my boys…I can’t seem to help myself, it’s a sickness. But, then, can you ever really have TOO many photos of your babies? I don’t think so.

Although, on a related note, you can definitely have too many photos, period. Digital photography is a scourge and a blessing all in one…it’s wonderful to snap away with no thought of the cost of film/processing, and it allows you to really experiment without fear of bankruptcy. The downside is, if you’re like me and don’t like deleting photos, you’re quickly overwhelmed by thousands of photos and a groaning hard-drive. I learnt this lesson fairly early on, and spent a painful few months deleting many thousands of photos, and cataloguing the ‘keepers’ properly so I can find them again. Plus I have a double back up system because, you know, I’ve sweated blood and tears to take those shots and I really, really don’t want to lose them. They’re like my other babies, all 20,000 of them….awwww.

Somewhere along the line I got bitten by the processing bug, ouch, and thus another time thief entered my life in the shape of Lightroom/Photoshop. These days I’m a fairly quick processor but in the early days it was painful, really painful. But isn’t that always the way with any new skill, alas and alack. I enjoy a bit of a ‘fiddle’ with my photos, but I definitely enjoy shooting more than I do processing.

But what I really, really love about photography…what makes it my passion rather than just a way to pass the time is that it makes me look at the world in a completely new way. I realise how sappy that sounds but it’s true, I see things that were hidden to me before, I see beauty all around, I see contrasts and humour and elegance and rawness….often all at the same time, and generally in my every day environment. I pretty much never go somewhere specifically to take a photo, I take photos as the moment arises. And those moments come around so often that I frequently take more than 200 photos a day. That’s a real joy about photography, it’s a ‘right here, right now…any time, any place, anywhere’ kind of hobby and that suits me and my lifestyle really well. I fit photography in to my life, I don’t fit my life around photography.

When I first started snapping my boys were aged 2 and 1 and life was all a bit of a struggle. I never had a second for myself and everything felt like such a slog. But, suddenly, out of nowhere I had photography and it was ALL MINE and it was something I could do, easily, while the children were around. Just a few minutes a day, just for me, no one else…just me. Are you getting it? It’s all…about…me! And that’s why I called this post ‘saving my sanity’ because, in the midst of those dark early days of parenting someone threw me a lifeline…an absorbing hobby that fitted perfectly in to our chaotic lives which gave me back just a little bit of myself, one click at a time. I’ll always be grateful for that.

And with that I will close. But, Laura, this one’s for you ;-) Thanks for letting me play over here.

Spud x

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