Balance is my word of the year for 2015.
I think my word chose me this year. I didn’t go looking for it. I wanted my word to be ‘success’ or ‘growth’ or some other super powerful word that would propel me to new heights. But whenever I gave thoughtful consideration to a word I wanted to use this year to help me focus, BALANCE kept popping up no matter how hard I tried to push it down.
With a bit of humility, I accepted what life was trying to whisper to me. The big area I need balance in is photography. I use my word of the year as a guide for how I’d like to live and as a way to keep on track.
With balance in mind, I identified ways where I could really utilize balance to make some progress.
No.01I’ve been shooting now for 5 years.
I dove in head first; tackling a 365 the day I bought my very first DSLR. I learned an entirely new editing program and worked every single day on something photography related for almost 3 straight years. Then I hit a wall. I stopped doing anything photography related. I hardly took a picture at all for months. I just didn’t have the desire to shoot, upload, edit and repeat. I tend to do things in extremes-an “all or nothing” mentality. I am definitely in need of balance.
No.02For quite a while I had a goal of creating a massive portfolio of images.
My main goal for taking a picture became to capture something worthy of being in that portfolio. I had figured out a style for my photography and took only photographs that fit that definition. I was looking to shoot photos in high contrast lighting situations with solitary figures with a lot of literal and figurative contrast. I was very focused on that. I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing, but it came at the expense of photos that fell outside that definition.
So for me, that meant that I didn’t shoot a lot of our personal family memories. I just did not even bother photographing something if it wasn’t going to go right into my portfolio. A majority of the photographs I took looked a lot like this and while I do love this shot because I was executing my vision, I can look back now with a little bit of regret at not capturing a quick smile on his face.
No.03I pushed my kids to be models or muses for me-to sit in the “right light” or “play over there by the window” and “to look away and up” or some other set of instructions that led to them dreading every time I pulled out my camera.
One of the “shoots” I set up with my daughter led her to tears at having to sit at the piano for so long just so I could get my shot. It was that moment that I realized I do not want to hand over a portfolio over beautiful images and ugly memories to my children. I had been fooling myself into thinking that if I could capture my children in such beautiful ways in photographs they’ll look back and see themselves the way I saw them-beautiful and special in every way imaginable.
But kids don’t want that.
They just want their memories preserved.
They want to see the clutter in the background and remember the things we had in their home growing up. They want snapshots.
This year I am tackling another Project 365 with the word ‘balance’ in mind each time I shoot. I am shooting just to preserve memories a lot of the time. But I am not forgetting that I enjoy the artistic side of photography and want to shoot my own agenda sometimes as well.
Just a little over a week into the project, I can see the power of keeping that word at the front of mind in the photographs I’ve taken. I have a few for the portfolio, a few for the memory books and a few that could be in both.
Do you have a word for 2015? How are you going to relate it to your photography this year?