Any moment is worth a photograph.

It’s really a stunningly beautiful morning. I awoke of my own volition, something any parent knows to be the holy grail of a good night’s sleep. Though I was the first parent out of bed, there was already coffee, remnants from yesterday. It’s mine now. But I’m nice so I made a fresh pot for my husband. And me too, of course. I mean, who has just one cup of coffee?

The kids are all riding their bikes around the neighborhood to peruse Garage Sale Saturday, a seasonal occurrence in our neighborhood. They wander to and fro, hoping to discover some new treasure. I’m sort of the kill joy. I hate garage sales and I hate clutter even more so I’m pretty strict about what they can bring home, if anything.

For a glorious five minutes, it was still and quiet in my house. I’m happy to let them enjoy their “window browsing” when it means I get to relish in the sun streaming through my windows (which I thoroughly cleaned this week) and actually hear the birds chirping outside while I slowly savor my first cup of coffee.

Small moments like this are my favorite to photograph. It may seem insignificant to some, but I love having a picture to remind me of all I’ve felt as I sat in silence on this stunningly beautiful morning.

A picture book of missed opportunities.

Do you ever find yourself framing potential shots as you take a walk or drive down the road? How often do you actually stop to make the picture? Or do you feel like pulling over is too much of a hassle? You’re too busy. You don’t have time for that.

With three kids often in tow, I definitely got in the habit of framing a great shot in my head, but continuing to drive right by. The trouble is, I would often be haunted by all the images I didn’t make. The unrecorded frames were burned into my memory, added to a picture book of sorts, a collection of missed opportunities. Except I was the only one who could flip through the pages.

The expression, “stop and smell the roses,” was really lost on me. And yet, I’d continue to see image after image in my mind everywhere I went. I couldn’t shut it off. Eventually, I came to realize that not everyone saw the world through the lens of an imagined camera and to appreciate that there was something different about me – not better, mind you, but different.

The artistic eye that I couldn’t seem to shut was drawn to beautiful architecture, geometric shapes, high contrast light and shadow, vibrant colors… The world was begging to be documented. So, I started bringing a camera with me everywhere and photographing whatever was of interest. Sometimes, I had trouble capturing my vision through the lens, lost in translation, I guess. But still, I continued trying and I’d occasionally be rewarded with shot I was happy with.

Now, it’s not really an unusual thing for my kids to have me pull over, hop out of the car, and click away. Sometimes, they hop out too.

Life is too short for anything less.

It’s been six years and I’m finally trying out the Fuji film simulations, as is. Spoiler: they’re beautiful.

I think it’s probably obvious at this point that I am a big proponent of older gear. As each new iteration of camera bodies are released, the hype over all the latest and “greatest” so easily makes us forget that before it was released, most of us were perfectly happy to shoot with what we had. After all, it was the latest and greatest at one point too. Now, that’s not to say I’ll never buy something brand new, but it would probably take something really, really special for me to take the plunge.

I bought into that hype at times but if there’s one giant takeaway I could share from my decade as a working photographer, it’s that no amount of gear (or newer gear) makes up for a lack of vision and a dedication to excellence. No matter what kind of photography you pursue, the greatest tool in your arsenal is your own creativity.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed shooting with older gear. Recently, I’ve been shooting the Fujifilm film simulations from the X Trans II sensor straight out of camera. I’ll be honest, this isn’t something I’ve done in the nearly six years I’ve been shooting Fuji cameras. Oh, I utilize the film simulations ALL THE TIME, but I typically use them in conjunction with other custom settings, never alone. I decided it was time to let them stand on their own.

I’ve heard there’s a difference between the film simulations on older Fuji sensors versus the newer sensors, but as I don’t have any newer sensors, you’ll have to research that on your own. (I recommend Omar Gonzales’ YouTube channel). While all the simulations are beautiful, I’ve definitely come to favor some over others because they’re a better fit for my style without having to do any post production. In fact, all – well, we’ll say 98% – of the images in this post are straight out of camera.

So, which film simulations are my favorite? Astia, with its softer tones and saturated color, quickly became my preference. I have been so pleased with the look of my photographs that I don’t feel a need to edit at all, not even basic tweaks. I also quite like the standard monochrome simulation, though with a recent trip to the zoo being the testing ground for this post, I don’t have as many examples to show you. Color seemed more appropriate for that venue. However, the monochrome simulation has a bit of warmth to it, which keeps my black and white images from looking too sterile.

This experiment has me wondering why I went straight to utilizing the custom settings to begin with instead of trying out the simulations as is. I may still keep a few custom recipes programmed into my cameras, but not as many as I have in the past. I’ve learned that the popular choice isn’t necessarily the best choice, at least not for me. (For instance, I actually quite dislike Classic Chrome). The more I shoot the film simulations as is, the more I find that the custom settings I was employing aren’t necessary to acheive a beautiful, finished image.

Does this mean I won’t employ custom settings in the future? No, of course not. I’m all about making an image that is a representation of what I intended when I shot it, and sometimes that means a bit of tweaking, either in camera or in post. Sometimes, though, the simplest solution is the best one and I’m okay with that too.

*Here’s a little BTS shot of my youngest as he frames his shot, followed by the photo he made. I love watching him embrace something I love.