[real pictures . of real people]

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Once upon a time there were people.
And they were real.
Mom's ran around all day kissing booboo's, making peanut butter and jelly and hot dogs, and sometimes there just wasn't time to put on make-up or curl their hair.
Dad's came home tired from a long day of work, put on their favorite t-shirt (which happened to be very hole-y. Apparently it's called, "just broken in".) some shorts and crammed a ball cap on their head.

Little kids ran around shirtless all day. . .

. . .sometimes with food on their face.

And life was happy.

And they took pictures just like this.

They had acne, bad hair days, and sometimes their clothes didn't even match.
But guess what? They still took pictures. Usually with a little throw away camera. And they printed them out, framed them or put them in photo albums, and then every holiday or maybe just on random rainy days, they would pull out those photo albums, and relive the memories. Peering at the somewhat grainy, slightly off center, usually blurry pictures, they would laugh and sigh, remembering back to those happy days. They would giggle at so-and-so's nap hair. Or point out that dad was wearing socks with sandals - agaaain.

And then, slowly but surely something started to change. All of a sudden, everyone wanted one of those crazy awesome new digital SLR cameras. And then it seemed that there was this new un-spoken rule that any picture that went anywhere (i.e. Facebook, blog, picture frames, etc...) had to be photoshopped (or at least touched up in picasa for crying out loud!) And pictures were no longer stored in photo albums, where they could be pulled out at random and looked through, but instead were stored neatly on hard drives, to be lost and forgotten.

I posted a new album of pictures on Facebook the other day entitled "[life's not always picture perfect.]" and in the description I said this:

"Sometimes as a photographer there is this pressure to make every picture you take, everywhere, at all times, a work of art. But guess what? Life doesn't work like that. It's not always picture perfect. There are times when all you have is a cell phone camera, or a little point and shoot camera, or maybe even one of those little throw away film cameras from Walmart. And sometimes that's all you need to capture the moment. Yeah, it might be a little grainy, or underexposed, or blurry, or whatever, but who cares. They are memories - documented. Sometimes you just need some real life pictures where everyone looks a little messy and un-edited, where the kids have pb&j smeared everywhere, where you've already taken all your make-up off for the day and you're in your pj's, those are the pictures that you will take out with the grandkids someday and talk about. So - in honor of preserving memories no matter what the equipment, these are just pictures. Of real people. Some taken with a film camera, some with my point and shoot, and maybe a few from my cell phone."

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not advocating the turning away from ever having any professional quality pictures taken (and thus neatly doing away with the need for my profession) and you aren't going to find me showing up to your wedding with a little point and shoot throw away camera (although I might have a Polaroid camera lurking somewhere nearby for creative use ;) and I'm also not saying that photoshop is evil and you shouldn't be using it.

no, no, no.

Here is what I am saying.
Let's start taking and printing and framing real pictures again.

I realized a while back that I was getting so stressed out with making every picture that "perfect picture" that I was missing moments all around me.

Sometime last year I came across Chase Jarvis's work, and quickly became enamored with what he calls "iphone art" and his philosophy behind it. He says: "I hope to underscore--perhaps legitimize--the idea that an image can come from any camera, even a mobile phone. Inherently, we all know that an image isn't measured by it's resolution, dynamic range, or anything technical. It's measured by the simple--sometimes profound, other times absurd, or humorous, or whimsical--effect that it can have on us."

The first time I read that (and every time I've read it since!) my heart started clapping! Because it's so so true! Yes, beautiful pictures can be taken with really expensive equipment and made even more beautiful with really nice editing software, but the same impact can come from a picture with the little 3mp camera in your pocket on your phone.

All those pictures at the top of this post, were taken with a throw away film camera. And guess what? I LOVE them. They make me happy just looking at them. They bring back memories. I don't look at them and think, "Omw--the exposure is waaaay off on that one." Or, "I can't believe they didn't take the time to apply the rule of thirds in this picture."

Here recently on my last few trips I have bought a throw away camera to take with me just to snap random pictures with, and it's been so much fun to experiment with it a little! Instead of spending alot of time thinking about f/stops and shutter speed, I just see something that makes me happy, and take a picture to remember it.

So, my challenge comes in two parts. First--go take pictures. Wherever you are, with whatever you have. And second--just because you are using a cell phone camera or a throw away camera, don't try to take ugly pictures, try to take good ones! Some of my favorite pictures that I've ever taken are ones that I took before I had a really nice camera, or knew how to use editing software, or knew what aperture and shutter speed even meant. In our ignorance, I think we can take some of the most beautiful pictures just because we are shooting on instinct, and not based off of what the back of our camera tells us.

I've decided that to hold myself accountable to do this I am going to start posting a picture once a week that I love (and the reason I love it) that was taken with either my phone camera, point and shoot or my old school film camera. And no editing allowed ;)

And yes, if you are looking for someone to take those once a year professional pictures for your family, or need someone to document your wedding day, I would love to do that for you. But in the in-between times . . .
[pull-out-your-camera, and click.]

Much Love.
Jessica Shae
Pin It


  1. I really liked this post, Jessica :)

  2. wow! really great post...it's funny because I recently had a convo with my dad about this very subject and since he has been working on his "camera phone" photo album. I must say it is pretty amazing how pretty pictures shot in the moment truly can be. :) Love your challenge!

  3. Loooove this post. I remeber the "old" days. :D You look JUST the same! ;)

  4. Jessica this is fantastic!
    I'm right there with ya, getting stressed out about posting "perfect" pictures on Facebook/Flickr, but it IS really just the memories that count!
    Its those important memories that I miss because I just don't feel like pulling out the nice camera and getting it all set up right; when I already have a camera in my pocket!

    Thanks for the inspiration. I too will be posting pictures like these more often :D

  5. This was so inspirational. Thank you for the encouragement.

  6. Haha, I love you and I love this post!! :)

  7. Love it :)
    Hope to talk to u soon :)

  8. I love it girl! Thanks for the reminder!!

  9. Bravo Jessica!! That was spoken like a true photographer with a passion not for capturing masterpieces but for capturing memories!! love it!


Oh hey!
Thanks for taking the time to say hello, it makes my day everytime! :)

Jessica Shae