Putting MY Stories Higher On the List

Friday, September 24, 2010

September is nearly done. Can anyone believe it?? There's been some delicious hints of real FALL in the air-- the pumpkin spice drinks are back at Starbucks, St. Louis Bread Co. has the pumpkin bagels... There's been lots of apples from local orchards... We even had some nice cool weather the other week. (Not THIS week, unfortunately! Ugh!) I know I'm not alone when I say that fall is my absolute favorite season. HANDS down. And with the changes, subtle but there, that show that it really is on its way, I have had many warm, fuzzy cravings and memories and plans hatching.... I listed many of them last night in my post. Today, I was thinking about apples and apple orchards... Thinking we definitely needed to make time to bring Noah there again like we did last year. 

And that got me thinking to last year, when I took Noah to the orchards with my mom and dad and a couple of siblings. If I remember correctly, Noah was NOT in a great mood for some of it--specifically any photo opportunities I tried to get him to cooperate for. He DID love the little petting zoo, the playground... and loved the apples. He was in heaven picking up windfall apples from the ground, and I was kept busy trying to sift through his pickings as they went in the bag, making sure the rotted, gross ones didn't get included and paid for. The more I thought about that day, the more memories came back--- Noah picking out pumpkins, but being grief-stricken when we had to leave... Noah loving the hayride tractor.... 

And it hit me---- I took PHOTOS that day. I took LOTS of photos. I remembered trying to get ONE good photo of him in his cute sweater, sitting in the rows of trees, and him BARELY cooperating. And I remembered handing my camera to my mom and getting a couple of photos with him. There were PHOTOS of that day. 

So.... where did they end up? I pride myself on being pretty in-the-know about my personal photos. I have them ordered by month and year, and I have a pretty good memory as to what image comes from what month. I have reason to pop in and out of my personal photo folders a lot, so I am pretty confident in my knowledge of the images I have. Even the ones I never got around to editing. So I thought. But when I suddenly recalled these missing orchard images, I had a true moment of panic. I had not thought of those images in nearly a year, and I most definitely had not seen any of them in that long. I suddenly feared that in one of my hard drive cleanups/file transfers, somehow this batch of images had gotten deleted forever. So... I went and looked as soon as I was home. And nope.... they didn't get deleted. They were right there, in October 2009, in the "originals" folder... Sad, neglected... Forgotten. 

I've finally been making time, the past few months, to get my sorely neglected personal photos sorted, culled, and put into coffee table books. I am done with 2007 and most of 2008. The exercise in organizing and sorting has been a telling one---- it is clear to me that:
A. I take far more photos than I need to
B. I am far more sentimental than I should be when it comes to culling
C. I have let my personal photos fall to a place of such non-priority in my busy life that it is TRAGIC.

Here it is: The de-prioritization of my own photos, in favor of working on the professional photos I take for other people is one of the most heartwrenching casualties of my "too busy, too fast, too stressed" life. 

This summer, my sister and I went to see Toy Story 3. By the end, of course, I was BAWLING. I was delighted by the tender end to the movie, and interestingly, besides being charmed and amused by the movie, I left the theater with this resounding epiphany that our own little lives, our own little stories should be the most important focus of our energy-- specifically, that I shouldn't be procrastinating telling my own stories. Gosh, typing it out is almost embarrassing, because it seems so OBVIOUS. But as obvious as it should be that we need to put our own stories first, I find that as a pro photographer, I am critically guilty of failing to do just that. 
I LOST the orchard story. For nearly a YEAR. And didn't even know I had lost it. What a shame to have a head so full of other photo tasks unrelated to my family... What a waste to spend all my creative time and energy on other people's kids. I mean, sure, it's my JOB-- so I'll still work on other people's images.... But there's something VERY wrong in the balance I was maintaining that continually put MY photos at the bottom of the list. 

No more. 

I want to remember why I began taking photos in the first place--- because I am a sentimental fool who wants to remember every magic moment in my life, and therefore snap a gajillion images to do that... I want to take out the camera just for fun, and then FINISH the images so my family can enjoy them. It is pointless to get the photos together 3,4, 5, TEN years later.... We need to have our NOW photos ready to enjoy.... well, NOW. 

So. With my decision to take far less sessions a month, I am also making the decision to try to maintain my personal images better. To chip away at the 2009/2010 pile of photos a little at a time in such a way that I might stay a little closer to caught up... And when I take a whole slew of new images from my little life, I want to cull them quickly, edit them lightly, then LET IT GO if they are not PERFECT. Let them be what they are and tell the story, instead of sitting, forgotten. What is the point of photos that get forgotten?

So. One more new goal I've been working on: I want MY family's stories to get fulfill the purpose of my life as sentimental photographer. I want to stop putting this last and making excuses that put a zillion other things first. 

It's a monster goal... and if I could just take LESS PHOTOS, I'd already be rocking this goal. But... well... it'll be a lifelong effort. But well worth it. 

For now, it's only a small repentance for my lost years of personal photos sitting gathering "dust" in folders on my hard drive, but I treated myself to some one-on-one time with my favorites from that orchard outing last year. I wanted to get them out and apologize to them, and edit them and get myself pumped for this year's version of the outing. So, enjoy:

Viva la Autumn, and long live our personal photos and stories!

Circa October 2009:






(seriously.... **swoon** How did those go unnoticed for so long? I adore them!! I love my little stinker kiddo. He is my sunshine.)


  1. I love him too. :)

  2. I KNEW there were going to be photos at the end, so I slowly...s l o w l y scrolled through your thoughts as I anticipated the wonderfulness to come.

    And I wasn't disappointed.

    And Max has that same sweather.

    And it still fits him :)


  3. So you know you're not alone, I was a bawling, heaving, snorting, sobbing FOOL at the end of Toy Story 3. In my defense, it was the week we'd learned that M had to start full-day kindergarten, but STILL, talk about yanking on the emotional heartstrings!

  4. Hi! I thought I would introduce myself instead of blog stalking you. My name is Valerie and I have enjoyed your blog. I am an photographer trying to get myself out there and trying to also find the balance with my four kids. If you find out how, let me in on it!

    I enjoy reading your entries, you have a way with writing what's on your mind in a fun and interesting way.

    Anyways. . .I especially loved your little bit about Toy Story 3. My husband works for Pixar and helped make that movie!

    Keep it up!

  5. Beautiful pictures! You are making me want fall to be here now! Atlanta is still hot!

  6. Well said. And, I had forgotten about the photos too!!!! Can I have a couple for my 2009 book?

  7. I love that you actually got pictures of you two in the orchard. So adorable!


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