“It’s just a snapshot.” And other crap I’ve said.

The other day, as I was critiquing a photo on a photographer website I’m part of (solicited criticism, I might add), I found myself looking at the image and thinking, “It’s really just a standard snapshot.” And in that moment, a “snapshot” wasn’t good, wasn’t worthy. A “snapshot” was something your mom took during a school recital, not a serious piece of art.

As I’ve pondered that the past few days, it occurred to me that maybe we photographers take ourselves too seriously. Since when did every photo have to be “art?” And really, art is so subjective, it’s not as if I could qualify it for everyone else anyway.

It seems to me that a snapshot is the foundation of photography. When photography became available to the masses, that’s largely how it began and took off: simple photos of everyday life, “snapshots” of loved ones and experiences we want to remember.

Those snapshots are the reason we have visual representation of decades past and they were revolutionary! Imagine prior to photography… The only way you could capture a likeness of anything was to have someone paint it. It could take weeks and even months (in some cases years) to complete one portrait or landscape. And even then, art was subjective to the one holding the brush.

Truth be told, at least 80% of the images I make are snapshots of my family. I’m not concerned with each one being expertly composed or professionally finished – in fact, I shoot them all jpeg and don’t typically edit them at all. Less than 1% will wind up displayed in my home. The rest are just for me.

And I love them. I love what they represent. Walks through the nature trail with my youngest, giggling at my husband as he rock climbs with a cast on his leg (an injury which occurred as the result of a rock climbing accident). These are the photographs I’ll cherish the most, I’ve no doubt.

So why was I so quick to dismiss someone else’s snapshot? It’s time to re-frame my thinking.

Black and white vs. color.

I love black and white photographs. Color can be a large distraction to me and so my first inclination is to shoot black and white or convert to black and white in post. However, I’ve really challenged myself to shoot more color work over the past year.

The dilemma comes when I can’t choose between black and white and color. What to do when both versions speak to me?

It’s rare, but sometimes I keep a digital version of both. I may hang the black and white version on my wall but use the color version in my annual family photo book.

Maybe someday, I’ll be able to decide between the two…

The beautiful ordinary.

A little walk behind our neighborhood puts us in a rural area you could almost call a forest. Almost. It’s nothing spectacular. It smells of swamp – because it largely is one. Unfortunately, there are sections that are quite literally littered with trash. But if you persevere through the smelly garbage areas, you actually reach a portion of woodland that is relatively nice.

There’s a pleasant stream that runs through, you can hear the wind in the trees, and see the light dance as it peeks its way through. For a bit, you can almost forget you’re surrounded by tract homes.

When we desperately want to get outside in nature but don’t have the time to invest in driving an hour away to the nearest hiking spot, this backwoods wetland isn’t a bad alternative. Of course, they’re putting in a highway so we may lose access sometime in the not too distant future.

*All images shot with my newest addition, the Fujifilm X70.