I had a rough November. Early on, I lost my entire site. Built the whole thing back up just to have someone hack into it. Dropped my five week old iPhone 5 into a sink full of water… Someone hacked my gmail account. I hardly use this specific one anymore, except for ALL my banking and bill paying. Awesome. Then, just as things seemed to be coming together.. coffee pot= dead. Really coffee pot? REALLY? Thanksgiving rolled around, and I found myself forcing myself to be thankful, and thinking only of how much money and business I’d lost… all in the name of technology. I was glad when December 1st came around.
December is my second favorite month. Second only to July, for birthday and firework reasons. There is magic left in December. The start of winter, the first snow fall, lights… lights everywhere, and it is perfectly acceptable to have more than one cookie. It culminates in Christmas… which is pretty ribbon, and cinnamon, and tradition . and my family.
My sister and I have been doing christmas the same way the last 26 years. I’m up at 5:00 a.m. I wake her up, wake my parents up, pour the most amazing cup of coffee ever (thank you Starbucks). I sit, not so patiently, in front of the tree as the rest of my family gets their act together. My dad will start our morning with a prayer, and my mother will insist on taking photos of my sister and I opening our gifts (I’m 30, Mel is 20 something).
I think my mom thinks this will change when she has grandchildren, but I think she is wrong. She will still make us pose in front of blenders, and towels, and new shiny practical gifts, because gone are the days of toys and electronics (man, I love me some electronics) We eat breakfast, and watch movies, and my heart aches at the idea that someday we will do it differently, but I’ll have those photos. Mel and I posing in front of the camera, holding chalkboards, and standing in front of Barbie dream houses… a hot pink glow surrounding our awe struck smiling faces. We’ve held nintendos, ipods, basketballs, sweaters, and boots. Gifts come and gone…. but I have those photos.
We tare trying to document our lives with cameras to our eyes… making our best effort to remember what “it” feels like. What is this “it”? Love? Family? Hope? Redemption? You can’t name it.. thats why we take photos of it.
I wonder if we are ruining December. Everyone is always so busy… Its commercial more than anything else anymore. Gift-giving should be recognized as an olympic sport. When you have to have a strategy to compete on black Friday, its sounds like modern warfare, not fun… And I wonder if people actually pick gifts out for someone or if they just buy what is on sale?
Every year I purchase a device to make novelty foods for my mother. She has ice cream makers, popcorn makers, snow cone makers… I know cotton candy maker has to be on the list this year and I’m hoping they have a BOGO, and I’ll take care of next years corn dog maker at the same time.. She did surprise me though this year and asked for a coffee maker. They are all lined up on the counter in my parents basement, and I’m wondering why we don’t have more parties?
I got a snow cone maker one year for Christmas… It was the snoopy one, and you had to churn it to crunch the ice. I remember working my butt off to get that thing to spit out a sustainable amount of “snow” all the while looking out my living room window at the blizzard that covered the ground thinking… “what’s the point’? I had a snoopy snow cone maker.. thats the point. And I churned that sucker til I had enough snow cones to try every flavor. It was amazing.
I wonder if kids will remember their gifts like I do? I hope so.
I wonder if we are ruining photography too. Those “snapshots” that my mom took of me and my sister… are some of my favorite photos. But we have confused snapshots with professional images. Anyone who actually has any talent in photography is drowning in the sea of “captured memories” and “shots by susie”. Just buy an SLR, make sure you have your uncle bob download photoshop for you and go ahead and have him add some “actions” too. You don’t know how to use any of it, but hey.. anyone can learn, and your brother is a whiz on photoshop… he added your head to Shrek’s body for your birthday. Why would you need to learn what Aperture and ISO are when they have a button that says “auto”? Sound bitter? I am. I am a full time photographer.. this is my livelihood, and it was never my “dream”. I completely fell into it. I was studying web development, and photography was a required course. 2007, was the first time I ever took a photo from a creative aspect, but my professor and classmates raved.. so I bought a camera and started messing around… I had no intention of making money and even turned money away.. I wasn’t ready, I knew that. Why don’t all of these other photographers know that?
I don’t have kids… Your kids, are my kids. But I probably know 50 moms who didn’t want to pay for professional images so they bought an SLR and decided to be a professional. It astounds me that they are willing to provide a service, they wouldn’t use. I know 100’s of high school kids, searching for an identity and “photographer” looks like a good one. They will stand their friends in front of brick walls and add some “vintage affect” and call it photography.
My best friend and I did this.. We took a friend of my moms fancy camera and went to the Hayes center for a day just to take pictures… It was fun, we had a blast. You know the difference? We both paid for professional senior images… We weren’t delusional enough to think ours would be “good enough” but that is exactly what parents and teens and unfortunately even brides… are thinking. They’ll be “good enough”. Is that really what you want? Your life… your favorite days, most memorable occasions marked by photos that are just “good enough”… Were the occasions just “good enough?”
And i’m gonna end there, because I have written the next paragraph eight different ways and I just sound like a goob. I’m not interested in venting on social platforms, but I do want to share my experiences as a photographer both good and bad with you. I have WAY MORE GOOD to share, but November sucked, and I’m using this little post to put the nail in the coffin.. and move on.
Super huge thanks to Shannon Stull who gave me a pep talk when I really needed it. And to Heather Sebek, Whitney Kimmel, and Alison Chudzinkski, for having amazing weddings/engagement session and allowing me to tag along.
Announcing Christmas contest on the blog on Saturday. Stay tuned. And feel free to share