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Creating a memory or living in the moment?

Our recent vacation (2100 miles of beautiful scenery and a wealth of memories) got me to thinkin’ about my role as a “photographer” a bit. I guess it’s time to admit that I am getting a bit obsessive about capturing moments. Sometimes I see the shot in my mind and try way too hard to recreate it for the photo. What I am missing out on is, essentially, living in the moment. Lugging two cameras and 4 lenses (plus a speedlight and my new $350 Bogen tripod…not carbon fiber either) I realized that I am definitely living on the line somewhere in between the real world of the moment and the creative world of the capturer. It’s a risky strategy no doubt.

I just can’t seem to let a moment go without an attempt to document it. At times I feel like I am trying too hard and it’s showing in the photos. The result is too many ‘posed’ and uncreative shots. I’ve also seen an increase in pictures where the lens choice was wrong, the depth of field or the lighting were off and the emotion stripped from the moment all because I am trying too hard to stage something and am not taking the time to think about the composition.

In whipping out the camera and trying to set up this picture of our lovely picnic looking up at the beautiful hoodos in Queen’s Garden at Bryce Canyon National Park, I missed the moment of pure beauty and togetherness we were experiencing. I stole from the silence by asking everyone to stop eating and pose for me. Heck-I even scared away this lovely and majestic blue jay from the neighboring tree with my pose requests and grunting as I tried to move my bulky body down to a squat to set up the self timer. I missed the moment.

Or did I?

Because now I have this lovely photo to remember that day, that hike and the yummy turkey and swiss sandwiches we had packed by the Bryce Canyon Lodge in preparation for our hike. Now I am reliving that moment over and over when I look at the photo. And I am sure, with time I will forget everything else that caused stress to set it all up.


Heasleye - April 27, 2008 - 9:45 pm

I have pondered this same issue. Sometimes I’ve wondered if I will look back at some of my “moment catching” and remember how frustrated I was with the process, and I’ve wondered if that will sour the memory for me. I tend to think…not so much. My brain just can’t contain all the details of every interaction and scene, and you can bet that our kids certainly won’t remember those frustrations when they see the pictures years later. I believe they will see family togetherness and a mother who was dedicated to them and to documenting their important lives. As long as not every picture is fraught with frustration and grunts and groans, I think “working” to capture some moments is bound to happen and will blend into all the good memories when viewed down the road.
So glad you had such a great trip! Welcome home!

Michael - July 23, 2008 - 4:38 am

I love your new blogs and the photo website you have created! I knew you had talent. I love photography and take about a thousand photos a month….which means burning at least 2 or 3 photo cds a month!! Its nice to see you took a trip to my favorite place in USA….southern Utah. I have been there twice already and of all the trails I have hiked all over USA…Bryce’s Canyon Navajo Trail is my #1 favorite. I can remember hiking in Queen Victoria’s trail during the clear blue day and have good pictures of it in my Wild Wild West Photo Album. The first time I went out there….I traveled 8,000 miles in three weeks with my uncle back in the Summer of 97. Of all the places I traveled in southern Utah….Arches National Park is my favorite place to visit. I miss those days hanging out in Moab.

The best ‘pictures’ exist in our minds…

This is a direct quote from my husband, said the other night just before bed. Long after he’d fallen fast asleep, I lay tossing and turning thinking about that simple quote. And after what seemed like an hour of deep thought I think he’s right.

Some examples/rants of my thought process during that lone hour.

Why is it that I can hear my husband’s razor combined with the smell of his shaving cream waffling through the bathroom door and be taken directly back to my childhood home 20-some years ago while our family was getting ready for a wedding. The sound of my dad’s electric razor and the smell of his shaving cream are exact. Only in my memory I can also smell my dad’s cologne, see him standing in his suit pants and white tee shirt and see the white puffs of smoke coming from the Salem cigarette dangling from his lips as he shaved. I experienced these two things as if they were happening simultaneously yet over 20 years separated them. No pictures exist to prove either of these moments yet they are inextricably linked-at least in my mind. (aside from the cigarette smell as neither my husband nor I smoke).

Last spring our beloved dentist’s son was tragically killed in a skateboarding accident on his LAST day of high school. Even more tragic is that he was killed on a free period just a few feet from the school. He was a child of such promise, such potential, well-loved and an extremely talented musician. I’ve been a patient of this dentist for 8 years now and have never been to his home nor seen him outside of the office. I did know from talking to him over the years that he lived close to us. Upon seeing the story on the news and gazing at that handsome boys face (an unmistakable likeness to his father/our dentist), I jumped in the car and drove over to his home. The dentist answered the door. I remember the color of his eyes so well. They were so blue, so lost and the sadness in them simply cannot be described in words. That man gave ME the biggest hug (and the longest one I’ve ever received in my life). It lasted for such a long time and with such intensity that I thought I was going to knock him over. (I was a bit taller and certainly heavier than he). It’s been almost a year and I have never forgotten that moment. I can go on and on about the details of that rainy spring day in May 2007, being able to recall the moment so precisely, the smell of the house where death had overtaken, the intensity of the embrace etc. No picture exists. But this one, like the memory of my dad, stays with me. And probably always will.

This week marks my 7th wedding anniversary. I don’t need to whip out my thick wedding album to remember. I can close my eyes and I am standing in the church arm in arm with my dad. I am not nervous at all-but confident and calm as I look up the isle to see my future husband standing at the altar with his hands behind his back. I can feel my dress, my tiara (yes-I actually wore one!) and the sun shinning down on us through the beautiful stained glass window above the altar. Happy Anniversary my dear.

Such intense emotions and memories are so vivid, so powerful and can exist not on Kodak Endura paper but only…in our minds. So lovely and so perfect that no amount of time could ever weather them.

Lori - April 10, 2008 - 9:37 am

Lovely post. And even without a picture, your words help me “see” your memories.

But an actual photograph is a real help in sharing with others!

Heasleye - April 14, 2008 - 7:35 pm

Such a vivid and poignant post, MB. You are a very fine writer! Congratulations on your anniversary! God bless!
(And thank you for your very generous words on my blog.)

Informal "Connections"

I am finding that the older I get, the more I need to connect with people. The more I need to feel part of a community. The more I need to feel noticed and appreciated and…well alive.

In many ways-this (excuse the cliche)”high tech” world of ours offer us so much in the way of communication options. The technology is impressive indeed. But deep down I feel like we as a culture have regressed so much. Now we’re all sitting in coffee shops emailing the person two tables away. Pretty soon we’ll be emailing the barista our coffee drink order and then tipping them electronically via a follow up email.

Don’t get me wrong–I love the computer, my cell phone, my ipod and, of course, my camera but… Most of the time I still feel, well–‘disconnected’, and unnoticed. Invisible at times. That is until I type my way into the world wide web. My cyber home, my cyber family, my cyber friends. A place where my photos can do the talking for me.

I joined the SmugMug Daily Photo community recently to connect with others as passionate and obsessed with photography as I am. To connect with people who appreciate pictures, look for meaning in them; those who notice the small things. They help me to grow in my photography and offer criticism, insight and perspective. They notice me. In posting photos I am looking to express my creativity mostly but I am often offered positive feedback, perspective, and even compliments. (Icing on the cake as far as I am concerned.) I just want to feel part of something bigger than me where I can learn and grow (can you hear the Cheers theme playing in the background?). I choose to write and communicate with pictures rather than words. It feels safer and, as it turns out, is more rewarding.

What baffles me is that in such a short period of time I have established those connections, I have been touched by them. For example, my family knows I am a total goob about taking pictures. Most of the time they tire from me sending them-especially when they come in large bunches. Often they don’t respond and certainly almost never offer any feedback (or thanks). Heck-even my own husband rolls his eyes when I grab the camera bag for a quick outing. (He grumbles even more when I point the camera at him.) But here on this site–in just over two months I have learned about people’s thoughts, homes, travels, passions, loves, pets and pet peeves, losses– the list goes on and on. I’ve communicated with people, connected with them, and learned from them. It is, in some ways, like a family. I’ve even had one guy work on my images to improve them for me (thanks George). Almost always, when I ask a question, I get a personal (kind and helpful) response. All this from people I have never met and probably never will get the chance to.

Even more baffling is that I can walk into the camera store where I purchased (a guess here as it would be too depressing to actually tally these number up) over $4,000 worth of camera equipment in the past three years unnoticed for ten minutes..probably because I have a baby in a stroller. And even more troubling that when I walk to the counter the sales person (who is looking through a stack of photos he’s recently developed) says “can I help you” without ever making eye contact with me for almost a minute. He’s uninterested in me, my request and troubled that I am asking to get my CCD sensor in the camera cleaned. “That will take over a week you know?”, he says while still thumbing through the photos. “Humm-“, I say, “that’ll be better than taking pictures on a two thousand dollar camera with two huge spots on the sensor”, I say to this drone-like twentysomething.

Truth be told, I’d rather go home, get online and feel alive again.


Lori - March 22, 2008 - 6:44 am

This “high-tech” vs “high-touch” world is interesting indeed, as evidenced by your camera story encounter.

I know how you feel, though, about returning to the Warm World of the Web after such coldness. So odd.

Thanks for making my real-life world so warm, MB.

Did you get the invitation to the ColoBloggers’ Google Group? If not, check your spam filter.

Spicy Sister - March 28, 2008 - 9:00 am

Hi! Lori posted a link to your blog on Colobloggers – nice to ¨meet¨you! I have been checking out your photos – they are really nice, and really inspiring! I know NOTHING about photography but I am always trying to get better shots, I love the art of it. I am about to buy a new camera in fact. Nothing too fancy, just a step up from where we’re at currently.

I can really identify with feeling at home in the cybercommunity vs. IRL. As I have been going through infertility, I have found less and less comfort in my friends and family in the real world and more and more in my friends online. Often I feel like what I am going through is invisible to everyone else in my life. It makes me angry and sad at times that those who have known me for years can’t be there for me in the same way. But I am so grateful to have the online community that I do. It’s definitely a strange trade-off.

Denise - March 28, 2008 - 9:19 pm

Just popping in to say “hi” and welcome to ColoBloggers. I love the photo of your son reaching towards the camera. It almost looks like he is bestowing some kind of blessing onto the person viewing the photo.


Chaos is not necessarily a scary word to me. It seems as if I sumliminally prefer to live my life in it. The older I get the less I worry about organizing and the more I worry about getting the most out of life. Spontinaety rules. I like that about myself.

Today while painting with the kiddos I got inspired to show my chaotic side. (Years ago I used to paint abstracts and produced a line of greeting cards and a series of paintings which my sister so graciously hangs on her walls. It was a chaotic time in my life. I was lacking direction and I was guided by pain and sadness. My art was produced out of pain.)

Today I watched my almost-four-year-old swirl the brushes around on the paper. I enjoyed watching him select the colors and mix them together. He’s thinking in colors. How cool is that? (My other son–who is 21 months, prefers to try and put the paint in his mouth so we are not yet able to officially experiment with colors. Give us a few months though.)

I usually am banned to just watching my sons create. Today I grabbed that brush and decided to try using myself as a canvas. How chaotic is that? But it felt good to let go and to see my aging self in vivid tempura colors. The red felt good, the yellow-even better. Then came the green which inspired me to mix all of the colors on my face together. Amazing. Crazy-yep. Fun-yep. Silly–you betcha.

Having kids puts you back into a life of chaos. No longer are your actions your own. Your schedule depends on them, your reputation is defined by them. Your self image becomes burried deep in the sands of time. You look at yourself and feel lost, overweight, out of style–and old. I struggle with this so much.

It’s taken me a few years–but I am finally embracing it all–this stage of life –the kids have taught me the art living in the moment. I thrive in the chaos and I share it with them. And today it was all artifically “colorful”, passionate and beautiful.

Lori - March 7, 2008 - 4:40 pm

What a fun day at your house!

“Having kids puts you back into a life of chaos. No longer are your actions your own.” So true.

You are a very vibrant woman, MB.

HeidiM - April 4, 2008 - 7:34 pm

Hi, I am in the CO Bloggers and am just checking out your blog for the first time. I like that your perspective is different than most of us in the group who are IVF’ers — you’re in a different place in life, and it helps me visualize what that stage would be like and therefore try to appreciate each stage for what it entails. I’m on a break now in my quest toward mom-hood but plan to jump back on the bandwagon of the tryers soon.


Today no matter what I did or who I encountered I felt totally invisible. The kids wanted their daddy (who was sick and not up for the challenge), the dog wanted her daddy–even choosing to leave the couch where she’d been laying keeping me warm to jump up on his lap. I cooked, I cleaned, I cleaned up after cooking but nobody noticed. The phone didn’t ring all day long. (Although it rarely does on Sundays anyway. ) The kids were around playing and asking for cups of milk or juice/water or cheese squares or whatever but they didn’t seem to notice much about me either.

I ventured off to the store to get a quality humidifier ($129 later) and navigated my way though the isles of Bed Bath and Beyond silently. The cashier didn’t greet me or say anything until she asked me to sign the slip. I made eye contact with her but she couldn’t even seem to muster up a greeting or a goodbye.

The fancy market next store looked intriguing so I stuffed the huge humidifier into the silver car and went in for a look. I was hoping to find a treat for my husband as a belated Valentine’s Day gift (as I was sick with the flu all this week and missed the holiday completely). As I stood in line at the bakery case a woman with a lot more makeup, perfume and style walked right in front of me and asked for a carrot cake.

The humidifier and I arrived at home to find my youngest son still asleep in his crib and my four year old and his father fast asleep in the bedroom. It was silent, still, lonely.

The dog greeted me though—just like she always does–tail wagging a mile a minute. That always makes me happy.

Checked the laptop, no emails, no comments to my photo project. Humm…

So, I grabbed my tripod and decided the let the soft falling snow keep me company as I took some portraits for my photo journal/self portrait project. I just wanted to see some images of myself to see why I seemed to invisible today. Click the link to my project and my picture from today. Do you see me today?

Lori - February 27, 2008 - 7:16 am

I see you! I see you!

Sorry, sweetie. I should have brought you some chicken soup, or at least checked in with you. So sorry you’ve been sick.

I LOVE your photos. They are so expressive and unique and COOL! I love the potato chip homage.

I am so glad we’re friends. You’re not invisible to me.

TucsonHillary - May 7, 2008 - 6:57 pm

Hi MB… I was looking through some of your pictures and revisited your blog. You are very open in your words and I can relate to some of your comments so strongly. My sons are young men now, but still children and like young children, they need you and want you, but for themselves, not always for you…it gets easier. I sure see YOU..You are a bright, beautiful and loving caring wife who is struggling to maintain your own identity and creativity while in the mommy/wife mode, too. You can do it…Your photography has grown sooo much while a member of SmugMug… I too have grown with my photography, but I am growing too just having this wonderful new connection with others who share my love and interest in photography for its own sake. I, too, am glad that you are one of my friends..even if it is only in the ‘virtual world’ of SmugMug…. BTW- I am blown away by your sand dunes photo..You must enlarge it, print and frame it well. It is a treasure of a shot. Really outstanding!!! Thanks too for the compliment on my SP…much appreciated!!!
SmugMug Hug, Hillary