Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Talking about Photography

I've been a camera nut for most of my life; as an indulged child I got a camera when I was about eight, a Kodak Brownie, and started a life long love affair with the medium. As a young mother I got an SLR and took lessons on how to use it (one set all the light and speed parameters by hand, using a light meter, in those days) and did a lot of black and white photography. I used that camera, and later a pocket SLR, until the first of the digital cameras was cheap enough for me to afford – maybe 1996. I've since progressed through a series of digitals and am presently contemplating yet another upgrade. But I've never been much better than adequate at framing and subject matter. If you want to see photography that sings, look at or Lawyer Mama, to name just two out of many. What I wanted to do, however, I have done. I've recorded. If the house caught on fire, I would run for my photos first.

This makes me a poor subject for photo autobiography, in many ways. When you are behind the camera, you are not in the picture, doing whatever, for the record. The YD commented on my previous post that she would have liked to have seen more action shots. Problem is, I was usually taking them. I have some, but not a representative sample.

Anyway, what I took from Mad's challenge was that she was looking for a record of physical changes and of mood. That's how she did it herself. I am about to go hopping around to see how other people handled it and I'm looking forward to that. What I did was try to pick out one shot per decade, for the adult series. It amused me greatly that a disproportionate number of them came from weddings I've attended. And I could have put more shots like that in. Other photos of me are often from celebrations of various sorts from Christmas dinner to family reunions. Very few are a record of what I have been doing. There is a third category, where I am the foreground of scenery from a trip, but I don't have a lot of those because mostly I am carrying the camera.

I've been scanning a lot of the old photographs lately, to preserve them and to put them in order. I had a huge number taken from birth to three years old because my father was overseas in the Navy and the photographs were for him. (The shot where I have my three year old back turned to the camera was not shyness but rebellion; I was fed up with being photographed. Later I became a camera ham.) When my mother took photographs, she usually posed all her subjects in a nice neat row, or static against a skyline or tree, but they are still a great record.

I could do a dandy photo biography on my kids, however. I went for action whenever I could. From time to time you see a 'here comes Mom with the camera again' resignation on their faces, but mostly they were patient with me. Also, they did a lot of photogenic things. The most characteristic photo of me would have shown me with my nose buried in a book. Although when I think about it, there is not a single photograph of me reading that I know about. How strange.

Thanks for the comments, too. It was a fun exercise, even though I should have had a bigger picture allowance than the rest of you because I am so much older. I am giving myself one extra here – Mary G in her most characteristic pose but one.


  1. it is funny, because i know what you mean about being behind the camera. i am not a good photographer, but i love having pictures around me of my family and friends. that last picture in my photo bio was the hardest to find!

    Running on empty

  2. I loved your photo essay, and how interesting to see you follow it up with the explanation.

    Mostly wedding photos. Hmm.

    I've noticed since becoming a mom I have more photos but less of me.

  3. I have always been camera shy, but as I get older I fear that if I only allow photos to be taken of me at times when I feel comfortable, no photos of me will survive beyond my mid-20s.

  4. i'm sneaking away from the family invasion to do a wee bit of blog catching up, and just loved not only the pictures (my favorite, if I had to chose, being the one of you pregnant and holding your older daughter) but this additional post about your choosing them, etc. wonderful!

  5. If you look at the pictures from my son's babyhood, you could almost wonder if I was absent from his life, because there are very few pictures with me in them. This is partially because I am not photogenic and avoid having my picture taken.

    However, when I look back at pics from when I was younger, I always think, "Man, I looked great!" or "Look how skinny I was!" or "Those shoes are awesome, why did I get rid of those?"

    So I guess I should relax a little and get in the picture more.