This time of year it seems like every photographer goes through a funky phase. Maybe it’s because a lot of us are trapped inside. Or because sessions have wrapped up for Christmas cards and now we want to get back into the field. Or because we’re fucking sick of being trapped inside…
I don’t know why, I just know it’s clockwork for me. So I settle in and ignore photography. Finally, I can’t any longer. The camera is being very polite and begins to whisper, “Hey Lady… I’m bored. Pick me up and diddle me again.” (Yes, my camera is polite and still likes to be diddled) So I try to ease in, but the Funk still looms. She sits a little longer. “How about you look at old photos? So and so needs something for an album/blog post/info. Head to Flickr, Lady and then return to me. I’ll be ready,” she says in a seductive tone.
And that usually works. I scroll through years of photos and realize a few things.
- I’m good at documenting our life.
- I’m grateful that I’ve documented our life.
- Life is full of photo ops, I just have to wait and find them.
But this funk didn’t end that way. This Funk sent me in a different direction. I sat scrolling through those same years and felt a weird pain. It wasn’t nostalgia. Sure, I love seeing the boys full of baby fat and chubby cheeks. But do I want those years back? I never have. During those years did I cling to those moments knowing they were fleeting? No and I don’t regret that even now. I didn’t ache for their babyhood or romanticized about simpler times. They looked simpler, but I know the truth.
This time, the scroll backwards made me yearn for the ease of Photography. I realized that photography has gotten harder as the boys have aged, but the photos proved how difficult it has actually gotten. I was given a strong slap across my face and it still stings. I was given Moments upon Moments to shoot and document. Blankets of toys. Tables full of art supplies. Brightly colored objects. And bodies full of baby fat and chubby cheeks. Every second there was something adorable and easy to frame.
The boys are older. It’s a fact. And I’ve always known photography was going to be more difficult. And I’m standing on that edge right NOW. I’m looking down and this Funk is whispering awful things for me to jump. I don’t have a lot of options. I’m not going to take family sessions just to photograph young children. It’s not the same thing. My boys won’t get younger. I can’t force them into activities for the sake of photography. Be honest… Those activities won’t be as precious or as sweet to document. And I’m not going to have a baby just to save my photography (it did flash for about .5 a second and I actually understand/justify the notion. I wish I was kidding).
So here I am. Even though I knew this was going to be part of the journey, it doesn’t make it easier. There’s no welcome party. Just a dark and deep crack. I want to scream back to the other people, “You write about fleeting moments and how the babies grow up so fast? Fine that’s lovely. But be grateful for the ease of your photography!! Get prepared cause you’ll be here soon.” But I know that’s a bitchy old Lady thing to do. I’d rather be hip a little longer and not crotchety and bitter. I know there are tons of women I respect who have crossed to same crevice. They can give me pointers, but I’ve got to figure out how to navigate it. My own way.
I’d really like to figure a way around it. Jumping down isn’t an option yet. I know on the other side is a life worth documenting. And I know that I’m good at it. I know there’s tons of photo ops waiting to be found. It’s just different from the Life I’m used to documenting. Different is never bad, it simply starts out as a challenge. I think it’s time I started to tackle that challenge. It’s time to evolve.
I did get sappy just once…
I Fell Down. from Erika Ray on Vimeo.