What is your photography word?
What is your photography word?

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.
    I’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.
    For 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.
    I 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.

ciuan (43 of 1)-2


ciuan (43 of 1)

Do you have a word for 2015? How are you going to relate it to your photography this year?

  • January 16, 2015 at 10:25 AM

    this is perfect and came just at the right time for me. I’m tackling my first 365 this year and with it, my goal is to capture more everyday family memories. Not just perfectly posed portraits of my kids but them playing in their messy rooms and just them being them! Those are the memories I want to capture. When they are old and out of the house, I’ll have all the time in the world to devote my time to photographing sunsets and waterfalls and everything else I desire to shoot! Last night I got the perfect shot of my son playing in his room, toys scattered everywhere and him just being him. After a bit of taking pictures while playing, I finally just put my camera down and played – those are the memories they want, us playing with them.

  • January 16, 2015 at 10:25 AM

    Love your post today Brennan! I can totally relate to your journey and each step that you have taken. I wish you tons of luck with working balance into your life in 2015! <3

  • January 16, 2015 at 10:32 AM

    Thanks for sharing this! I am only a couple of years into my journey and often long for “portfolio worthy images.” But I don’t have the luxury of a big house with plenty of storage or large, low windows or a modern, clutter-free home. My photos are almost always snapshots, but they are also memories of what life is like for my children right now – toys everywhere and messy hair and outfits chosen by my four-year-old. Thanks for reminding me that those images are just as special and important! As long as I am growing in my abilities to capture those moments, then I can be happy!

  • Liz
    January 16, 2015 at 12:47 PM

    I love love love this Brennan! Says what’s been on my mind but I didn’t know exactly how to say it.
    And those recent shots- they are so special!

  • January 16, 2015 at 1:22 PM

    Thanks for sharing…I do a similar thing every year. My word this year is ‘cherish’.

  • joanna
    January 16, 2015 at 1:43 PM

    My word is less. I am simplifying the stuff in my life. As much as I love photography, I am taking less pictures. I’m happy with that. It feels good to just live. I’m a documenter so I’m not setting up shots. Just taking as I feel needed. And btw, kids love the things in pictures. It brings that memory to them. I like that.

  • January 16, 2015 at 1:50 PM

    Loved your post, specially as I kept thinkging about what I want to do this year.

    My word for 2015 is Kaizen (constant improvement)

    I was thinkging this week about the balance between creating memories and recording them. It would be logical that creating would be where we should focus, but I tend to be always feeling guilty about capturing images, writing on the blog, and then sharing those adventures with friends and family. I should feel bad for not creating enough, I like your idea of balance.

  • January 16, 2015 at 8:49 PM

    ditto and Amen– last year was when i started my love affair with photography and PORTRAIT and POSED would be the word for last year– got some awesome shots and ones i treasure– but not reality- not our everyday. this year is my first 365 and i am definitely focusing more on lifestyle photography- but also doing some (but not a lot) stylized shoots or “this is what it looks like in my head” shots. thank you for this!

  • January 17, 2015 at 5:13 AM

    My word for photo 2015 will be an ADVENTURE from hobby to hopefully with professional :)

    My word for photo 2015 will be an adventure from hobby to hopefully with professional

  • January 18, 2015 at 6:41 PM

    I don’t know why I don’t comment more often. I really enjoy your posts. They’re written with such honesty and generosity of heart. I love your “Have You Met…” and your “Why All The Secrets” posts. Thank you for sharing your love for photography with all of us. I started my first 365 Project thanks to you : )

  • carissa donsrummo
    January 19, 2015 at 6:44 AM

    I enjoy your honesty….as we all strive to perserve time and remember it but more to relive it

  • January 23, 2015 at 12:42 AM

    Great post of Brennan…It’s lot of information stuff…Really great Brennan..

  • January 23, 2015 at 12:44 AM

    Great post of Brennan…It’s lot of information stuff….My word for photo 2015 will be an wedding photography from hobby to joyful with the professional :)

  • Nicole S.
    February 3, 2015 at 1:02 PM

    I just love this! Your images are stunning, all of them. Keep up the great work, and that balance!

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