Saying that I’m VERY behind on blogging would be a bit of an understatement. I am completely drowning in things I am behind on, and there is an ocean of blog posts I should have written over my head. I keep thinking I want to change things here, to focus on things we ARE doing, instead of things we have done, but then what about all this older stuff?
Case in point, this shoot with Kelly, shot on a gorgeous October day in 2019. I was about 20 weeks pregnant with my now THREE year old daughter, and hadn’t really noticed that there were things I couldn’t do until I jumped down to photograph something on my belly and immediately regretted the decision. “Oh yeah, I really am pregnant,” I remember thinking. “I guess things have changed.”
And if the statement “things have changed” at the close of 2019 when I was about to have a baby and everything else that 2020 brought is not an understatement to end all understatements, than I don’t know what is.
Not to belabor that point, but one tiny consequence of the world changing was the end blogging. Have you noticed? When I started this blog TEN years ago (!!!), it was all about storytelling. I loved writing posts sharing the ins and outs of our shoots and my mood; it was my documentation of why I bothered with these things at all, and a record of all the photos, even the ones that didn’t fit into our portfolio for various reasons. Now blogging is all about search engine optimization, which has totally ruined writing. Sure there are still blogs, but nearly every single one reads the same, across genres. Something about the way things are ubiquitously structured feels insulting to one’s intelligence, and there is just too much out there to devote more than a minute to, plus who knows what you’re not even seeing. If you’re actually reading this, let’s just say I’m shocked- feel free to leave me a comment with time management and googling suggestions.
Anyway, this shoot with Kelly was my last outside shoot before baby number one, and, I am realizing now, my last kind of spontaneous, frivolous shoot with an open-ended why. I just wanted to do it and only had a vague idea of how it would turn out. Everything since has been a job, a well planned studio affair, or a spontaneous capture of children-in-progress.
Shooting a model outside with natural light is a tremendously meditative activity. You don’t know exactly where will have the best light, which spot will give the best background, how the wind will blow, how leaves will fall, or too much of anything before you get there. You have to carefully observe, problem solve, and use whatever you have available, all while allowing yourself to be in the moment. With a bit of patience and ingenuity, you might capture something you never could have even imagined, and it will just kind of have happened.
Which brings me back to SEO, I guess, since it feels diametrically opposed to anything natural and reduces everything to a formulaic pit of creative despair. No one writes a search engine optimized blog post organically, and no one ever asked to read one either.
At the time I finished the edits, this shoot was barely consequential. Just an experiment with pinhole photography and an opportunity to do something interesting in my favorite park with an old friend (Kelly was one of the first models we ever worked with) before it got too cold and I got too pregnant to want to be shooting outside. Now I think back on it with a certain nostalgia. I didn’t consider how I would tag it, how I could use it to advertise a lesson in “noon-time natural light photography” or “how to use a pinhole lens to make distinctive portraits.” It was just another Tuesday spent walking around with two cameras slung over my shoulders and a tripod in hand, not worried about a toddler knocking something over, how many dresses and faux furs I could fit in between car seats, or when I’d have to be home to have dinner on the table by four thirty. And the result was beautiful, dynamic photos with a gentle calm feeling that feels totally alien at the moment.
It was a different time with different priorities, fewer worries, and a world that felt more open to possibility. Instagram feeds were less uniform. Video posts were still a bit unusual. People seemed interested in doing things for the fun of it. Even I feel less frivolous now. I enjoy my time not shooting, not burdened by edits that need hours of attention. I like having time to make long-cooked dinners, sauerkraut, cookies, and soughdough bread. I like growing my own food and watching my kids play. I also miss photography, and as much as I love photographing my kids, it doesn’t satisfy the photoshoot itch, and mommy food blogging is not my thing. I miss making hats, draping dresses, painting backdrops, and running through the woods just for the hell of it. I’m not sure where that leaves me, a split personality in a world that insists on personal “brands.”
While I work on figuring that out, I’ll be continuing to catch up on this blog. And, as for what we ARE doing, we’re still frequenting this park, now with two little children in tow and a stroller full of picnicking necessities. And, once in a while, we’ll be heading back out of the house with an car full of dresses and cameras, because it is time again to, at least occasionally, make something that isn’t dinner.
- Date: October, 2019
- Location: Worcester, MA
- Photography and styling: Kayt Silvers
- Model: Kelly @shiny___sweet