Snapshots. Ugh. The word makes us cringe. When I Googled the definition, Miriam-Webster defined a snapshot as “a casual photograph made typically by an amateur with a small handheld camera”. Dictionary.com says “an informal photograph, especially one taken quickly by a handheld camera.”
Like most serious photographers, I am always working to make my images better — sharper, better composed, better lit, with a unique impact that touches the heart and soul. I’m proud of the work that I put into my images and hope that my passion for excellence never dies.
I know very well that the photos in this blog post are not going to impress anyone. It’s a little scary to put such “poor work” out there into a readership of photographers. (Trust me… I do much better work as well!)
However, I have been reminding myself lately to take more snapshots. I’m planning a trip to the east coast and am, of course, reading up on lots things… coastal photography, Milky Way shots, etc etc etc.
Traveling or Art
But what about life? This is the dream trip of a lifetime for me and my husband. Neither of us have ever had the luxury of a month-long trip anywhere before. We are not so young anymore, but we are still “newlyweds” after 4 years and we want to create memories, as well just images. Both matter.
Snapshots: Not Always Sloppy
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not advocating ditching all our knowledge, technique, and experience in favor of just shooting away any old way. I will still think about composition, focus, exposure, etc. How could I not? But I need to set aside my usual meticulous ways and be a bit more spontaneous. A lighter, more carefree approach.
I am certainly looking forward to making some wonderful images of a quality that I can enter in competitions and sell on canvas. (The first week will be spent in a photography workshop.)
But I sure don’t want to become so caught up in photography that I miss out on taking mindful moments to just experience things together with my beloved. Quick snapshots will help me preserve the precious memories we’ll be creating.
Where the Rubber Hits the Road
I was widowed nine years ago. When my then husband, John, was admitted to hospital with inoperable, terminal cancer, I was devastated. I wanted to do everything I possibly could to ease his passage. So what did I do? I zipped home and whipped through photos to choose some to put up on the hospital room wall where he could see them.
How many of my “fine art” images do you think made the cull? That’s right… not one. The photos that enriched his last days on Earth were, for the most part, snapshots.
The two of us in a candid moment on our wedding day. Vacation snaps of funny signs, memorable picnic lunches, and him sitting on the step with our Great Pyrenees puppy.
A couple of dozen snapshots to remind him of all the joy we shared over twenty-three years. And I took some snapshots during his final journey to preserve those painful yet precious times as well.
Changing My Ways
So folks, I don’t know about you, but I plan to take more snapshots. I’ve worked very hard on my photography the last couple of years. And yes, it’s a thrill to win competitions, sell canvasses, and have one of my images chosen for a national magazine.
But I want to keep things in perspective. When I’m lying on my deathbed, those are not the things that will matter. I will want my snapshots, my memory shots, I’m sure.
So whether Merriam-Webster approves or not, with their “a casual photograph made typically by an amateur with a small handheld camera”, this pro intends to get a bit more casual in certain situations.
Does that make me a less serious photographer? I don’t think so. It’s in my nature to strive for excellence. I don’t see that changing.
I’ve already let my new(ish) husband know that when I die, I want him to have canvas prints of my very best work ready to give away to everyone who comes to my funeral. I want that beauty and all my hard work to live on.
Of course I do. I’ll never stop trying to make better and better images. I’m just reminding myself to not miss the snapshots along the way. The image quality may not be golden, but the memories are.
Judy Hancock Holland is a fine art photographer based in Nanaimo, BC, Canada. You can see her “serious photography” work at JHHphoto.com and at Flickr.com/photos/JudyNanaimo, as well as in her earlier guest posts here, “Photography as a Spiritual Path” and “Photo Mandalas”. Watch for her image, “Voluptueux” in an upcoming issue of PHOTONews Canada.