"Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it." -Thomas Jefferson
Anyone who claims to know me, knows that I am against violence. Anti-war. I don't even like it when my son pretends to play with guns. It gives me the creeps. But this was a very different kind of war... read on!
It started out as a very hot, very uneventful day yesterday. That is, until my sister called to say she was headed my way to visit. She jokingly said "We need to have a water war or something outside because it's a billion degrees out there." And in that moment I was faced with two completely different paths. I could choose the destination of the responsible adult, which means the day would have been filled with editing pictures, changing poopy diapers, packing for my vacation, cooking dinner and cleaning. Or, I could listen to my inner child, who has been begging me to live a little and bring my real-life child with me. But I am an adult. Who has time for fun and games?! I certainly couldn't avoid my responsibilities. So after my husband came home, I made sure my son was snuggled deep within his cozy bed, napping sweetly, thumb in mouth, monkey blanket in hand, and then I ran outside to have a knock down, drag out water war with Brittany (my sister), Travis (her boyfriend), and Graham (my brother).
And I can't say no to a perfect photo opportunity. So I grabbed my camera and snapped away. What I didn't realize is that this "war" photo session extravaganza was going to become something much deeper for me. As I was skimming through the pictures later, I started noticing flaws. Some photos were out of focus, the composition was way off on a few, peoples faces were accidentally cut out of the shot, etc. Why on earth did these pictures turn out this way? I am very particular about what I present to my clients. But no matter how technically flawed they were, I was still absolutely IN LOVE with these pictures. Why? Because I felt like I was right back in my front yard, throwing an over-filled pink water balloon full speed towards my little brother's midriff, and the feeling was incredible. It was unconstrained, pure and authentic FUN.
I don't care if the pictures are slightly out of focus. I don't care if the subject isn't in the right place in the photo. And I really don't care what I look like in my picture. Oh wait, I'm getting ahead of myself, I haven't explained that part yet.
Eventually, I get around to the photos that I'm in. Without even making a conscience effort, I started to nit-pick every little thing I didn't like about myself--I've gained weight, my make-up had been washed off from all the water, my smile is weird, etc. But then I began to smile my weird smile, because I realized that what really mattered was my emotional state during this watery event. I couldn't help but feel elated when I saw myself laughing so hard after claiming victory over Travis. I didn't really beat him, he's just very polite and let me pretend to defeat him.
I had the time of my life playing out there like I was ten years old again. We all chose to channel our inner child yesterday, and it was a good, good decision.
Not only did I learn that it was healthy to act like a kid every now and then, but I was reminded that I am not defined by my physical appearance. I also learned that my art doesn't have to always fit into the normal boxed rules of a photographer. I know I have my standards for when I do other people's pictures. But these are all mine, and I'm thrilled with the way they turned out! Each one has a story to tell, and a job to do--to slightly increase your heart rate with excitement as if you were in this war with us, and to encourage a walk down memory lane to when you were a kid and there was nothing to worry about except if your friend could join you or not in your next neighborhood adventure.
As a photographer, I should be striving to improve constantly. Lately I feel like I've been stuck again with my current style. I was feeling ready for a new change. And I believe I have just waged a war on my current style. I am going to continue to try to incorporate more of this art into my photographs. I've always thrown out the ones I've considered "flawed" but I will be taking more time now to see those pictures in a new light. And if you don't like them, then you can certainly find a different photographer who takes the pictures more your style!