Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Everyday Life: A Real Photographer

Earlier this spring when my newly engaged sister asked me to capture some engagement pictures, I could only muster one response:

"But I'm not a real photographer!" I'd stammered. "I don't totally understand all the nuances of my camera. And I cannot give you a definition of the word aperture without showing what I'm talking about and using the word 'thingy.' And, you know, I sometimes shoot in automatic. And I have little artistic vision. And I can only capture in natural sunlight because flashes are big and scary and oh-my-gosh I SO cannot take your engagement photos! "


"We really want you to," she'd said, as she smiled, her blue eyes filled with sincerity.


And how can you say no to your baby sister when she's just so darn sweet and cute and the bride-to-be? {Also, she's photogenic, which really, really helps!}


So, yesterday I stepped way out of my comfort zone, charged my Cannon's battery and requested that the three of us head over to a beautiful forest preserve west of town, and I asked {demanded/begged} to meet precisely at 7:15 p.m. when the sunlight is at its absolute finest for capturing shots.


Luckily, Mike's stepmom, who is a serious, professional photographer, had already captured the love birds beautifully in an engagement session eariler in the summer, so the pressure was off and I felt much better about even attempting a session knowing they already had some lovely shots.


We giggled quite a bit as I directed them to appropriate positions for adequate sun soaking, they did the whole "I'm so in love" thing with each other and I sang them my favorite Killers' song {Smiiiile like you mean it .. wooo ooooh oooh wooo oooh oooh} } as I snapped away, switching out lenses and flipping dials on my camera that I was way too intimated to even think about touching a year ago.




It was good!


We had fun! They laughed, I laughed, they kissed, they made me love love and we managed a few shots that made me tingle with excitement about their marriage {and about the awesomeness of the perfect sunlight because did I mention that sunlight is like the caffeine in the coffee, the sugar in the cookie, the money in the wallet?}.


And I kind of got to thinking that you know, maybe I am a real photographer even though I'm nowhere near professional and quite unschooled about the fanciness of the settings on my camera.


There are real writers who write with passion and conviction, delivering emotional and evocative stories without understanding the exact right spot to put a comma; and maybe so it is with photographers. Real and professional aren't actually synonyms.


Like writing, I think a good part of photography transcends the rules and rests partly on the essence of what's being captured, the authentic voice of the artist.


And, also, maybe the word 'real' when placed in fron of a noun is a lot less defining and a lot more confining than I orginally thought.