Storytellers Blog Circle April

Those who know me know that I have a passion for photography – and those who know me well may even call it an obsession. And I don’t deny it – I never will. I admitted it here first; I am obsessed with photography. Whether I’m doing school drop off, taking a trip to the grocery store, heading to the park in the afternoon or venturing out on a vacation getaway, my camera and a couple of my favorite prime lenses are always by my side (I’m still working on declaring a favorite).  

When I left my job in the corporate world two years ago, I had this void of feeling what my “thing” was.  I was the communicator, the writing and editing guru. I used words to tell my stories. But that responsibility left when we moved to Costa Rica for my husband’s career, and I was left wondering how my stories would continue. What was my “thing” now? And that’s when I decided to attempt my second 366 project (yep – overachiever over here starting on a leap year).  My “thing” quickly became obvious – to me and to others.

For an entire year, I used daily pictures to tell my story. My story of leaving the United States with my two girls, aged 3 and 1 at the time. Storytelling through my photographs helped keep my family and friends feel close to us – even when they were in another country. With just one picture a day, mindfully selecting the focal length of my lens, aperture and shutter speed, I could ensure that my family and friends didn’t miss a thing.

When I was approached about joining the Storytellers Blog Circle, a monthly educational series, I immediately jumped on board.  The hard part was selecting one image to feature, and to explain the thought and technical process behind the final product. So, I paused to think about why photography is so important to me. I closed my eyes… and the image that I saw was this –  one of my favorites from my project last year. This right here, this is why it’s important. Because moments like this come and go, but, because I clicked that shutter, I have it forever.

So let me tell you a little bit about this image. This is my Poppy and my oldest daughter. My Poppy and my Grandmere have, for as long as I can remember, held Sunday breakfast at their house. One of the saddest things about moving away was knowing how many Sunday breakfasts we would miss. This image was taken during one of our visits home. We were all eating on the deck on a Sunday morning, with harsh sun and a distracting backdrop. But, I still had my camera (Nikon D750) and my trusty Sigma 24 mm 1.4 by my side. This moment happened on its own. I did not direct, I just observed them interacting and got my camera set up with the appropriate “safe” settings for the light I was working with (ISO 800, f/3.2, SS 1/400), so I would be ready at any moment to click. I intentionally closed down my aperture a bit because I was quite close to them, and wanted to make sure I didn’t blow the shot and miss focus by shooting wide open. I also kept my shutter speed up because they were playing and wanted to be ready to freeze motion if I needed to.

And, this is what I got. No wow factor, right? I almost didn’t want to feature the image because more processing went into this than my normal photographs, but I also wanted to make a point to share that processing can also enhance a story. I’m so glad I had faith in this image and didn’t just give up or not take the shot at all because the light and backdrop wasn’t flattering.

While this is quite a dramatic before and after, the processing was quite simple. I simply converted this to black and white, and then darkened the background so I could create some negative space and remove distracting elements. Now, when I see this image my eyes go straight to where I want them to go – to the moment that I captured, of my Poppy and his first great grandchild. They may be 89 years apart, but they sure do know how to play, laugh and love. I can feel it when I look at this image, and I hope you can too. This is why storytelling is important.

If you’d like to see more storytelling images, click through this blog circle to learn about the thought process behind the other talented featured artists!  Next up, here,  my friend Rebecca Hunnicutt Farren from Hunnicutt Photography.