Stories Behind Photos: How much do you want to know?

How much do you want to know about a photo? The whole story? Enough information to understand the image on a small level, but leaving some curiosity? Nothing at all so you can enjoy it for yourself?

This is something I think about. I am not necessarily in one mindset over the other, because I see the benefit of sharing information but also understand the need to let people form their own opinions. I do know I often won’t read super long posts and over the top descriptions of images. Yet, it seems lately people respond to my images more if there is at least some context included. Some story. Some information. Some way to connect us and make us feel something.

So how much do you want to know? Do you want to know more about the people who trust me to be in their space with my camera(s)? Does a little story or background help make the image stronger? Does it help you/any of us connect more?

Maybe it doesn’t really matter. I know sometimes we want images to speak for themselves, but I personally love to know the stories about a photo subject, even if it’s just a little snippet of information. Photos do connect us, and stories can make that connection even stronger.

Spry.

Spry.

Here’s an image I like because I know the subject and it shows me things about her that I know or have observed in the roughly 7 years we have known each other. But if you don’t know her, you may or may not like the image, and it may be for different reasons. If you know her, you may react as some of my pals have liking the photo of this person you know and enjoy.

I photograph Spry sitting on the bench between roller derby jams often. I gravitate to her during game time when I am there with my camera. It may be because we are friends, but it may also be because sometimes she is sitting in just the right spot, or because her face is expressive/animated when she is sitting with her team mates. Maybe it’s the Maine tattoo on her shoulder, or the way the MRD logo stands out when not covered by a ponytail or long hair. Maybe it’s because I know one of these will work out and will give me an image I like.

And when I look at this one I also see that hand gesture and head tilt - a very human moment. How much more do you want to know? Because I also want to point out when I see that hand gesture I chuckle a little because of that crooked pinky from that time she broke it all these years ago, I believe from a mechanical bull riding accident. But maybe that’s her story to share and not mine.

Did I tell you too much?

Or do you still want to know more?

{365} Photo Project 2019: January

So, here we are, one month into 2019 and a few days into a winter cold snap. It’s not “Minnesota cold” here in Maine, but it’s cold enough for my car to have issues and my furnace to remind us we are on borrowed time. Nonetheless, my camera and I persisted.

2017 was the year of the 52 week photo challenge (which turned into more of a ‘Sundays with my camera’), and 2018 I was challenged to a photo a day project, aka a 365 photo challenge. These things have been so helpful in getting me back to shooting the kind of work I love, and making time to document every day life. So, as 2018 ended I didn’t feel like stopping and have continued on with a 365 photo project for 2019. This year I am also working on getting back to blogging after a hiatus. Thankfully I have this project for extra subject matter!

{1/365} Fresh New Year. I like it.

{1/365} Fresh New Year. I like it.

{2/365} Reminder to look up sometimes. There’s lots of pretty stuff when you do that.

{2/365} Reminder to look up sometimes. There’s lots of pretty stuff when you do that.

{3/365} When my neighbor appears with the snowblower I go and grab my camera. :)

{3/365} When my neighbor appears with the snowblower I go and grab my camera. :)

{4/365} On this day I needed to get out of the house. I drove around looking for something to photograph. I remember feeling kind of meh and not focused. But in this moment that all went away, I knew I got my shot, and headed back to my car feeling good about how the day unfolded. Photography is funny that way.

{4/365} On this day I needed to get out of the house. I drove around looking for something to photograph. I remember feeling kind of meh and not focused. But in this moment that all went away, I knew I got my shot, and headed back to my car feeling good about how the day unfolded. Photography is funny that way.

{5/365} Maggie at the Big Ass Rooster show | Salvage BBQ | Portland, Maine. Her dad was joining the band this night.

{5/365} Maggie at the Big Ass Rooster show | Salvage BBQ | Portland, Maine. Her dad was joining the band this night.

{6/265} Hangtime with the niece and my mom.

{6/265} Hangtime with the niece and my mom.

{7/365} I’ll have what he’s having.

{7/365} I’ll have what he’s having.

{8/365}

{8/365}

{9/365} I adulted well on this day - I went to the dentist for the first time in a long time. Found this in the parking lot.

{9/365} I adulted well on this day - I went to the dentist for the first time in a long time. Found this in the parking lot.

This is how my January unfolded. Winter in Maine sometimes keeps us inside or a little isolated at times. So on some days I leave the house to chase light, eat a meal with a friend, run errands, play games with the niece, go to the movies with the neph, go to the dentist, to watch roller derby, or head to NYC for a quick one night trip. My camera comes with me for almost all of it, with the exception of the days when I know I got what I needed and it’s ok to head out without it (and give my shoulders a break).

{10/365} NYC. She was singing as I walked down the street, so my camera wanted to capture her.

{10/365} NYC. She was singing as I walked down the street, so my camera wanted to capture her.

{11/365} Last night we celebrated Sarah, so it was a rough morning for some.

{11/365} Last night we celebrated Sarah, so it was a rough morning for some.

{12/365}

{12/365}

{13/365}

{13/365}

Some days I get to sit and watch for repeated behaviors, which is what i did on this day watching these first graders put their hands in the air and wave them like they just don’t care. Except they do care. They care about getting that basketball and scoring. Over and over again they would all be under the basket with their arms up, sometimes with their eyes closed. It was kind of funny.

{14/365}

{14/365}

{15/365} Trivia and GIF lessons.

{15/365} Trivia and GIF lessons.

{16/365}

{16/365}

{17/365} Icy sidewalk at the end of the day.

{17/365} Icy sidewalk at the end of the day.

{18/365}

{18/365}

{19/365} Women’s March, Portland Maine.

{19/365} Women’s March, Portland Maine.

{20/365}

{20/365}

{21/365} After Mary Poppins. He’s so good at standing in the right light and waiting for me… :D

{21/365} After Mary Poppins. He’s so good at standing in the right light and waiting for me… :D

{22/365} Through my windshield.

{22/365} Through my windshield.

I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself as I do this for a second year in a row. I know a lot of us creatives will do that - set ourselves up to not succeed because we actually want to improve. Then life throws a curveball and maybe things don’t stay on course. I have some goals but also have an understanding of how hard it is to be 100% all day every day. I want to make sure I get as many people in my project as I can, I want my shooting and my editing to improve as I go along, and I want to take risks and try new things when the moments call for it. But other days I want to make sure I stay focused on the project and keep moving forward. I feel strongly that working on something EVERY DAY only makes you better, even if it takes some time to see any improvements. So, doing a 365 photo project is another way of committing to your craft and working to be better.

{23/365} The hubs made those metal elephants, the painting on the wall, and the furniture all of these items are sitting on.

{23/365} The hubs made those metal elephants, the painting on the wall, and the furniture all of these items are sitting on.

{24/365} Brunching with one of my photog & 365 pals.

{24/365} Brunching with one of my photog & 365 pals.

{25/365} Derby pal who spends time in this coffee shop drawing every day before work.

{25/365} Derby pal who spends time in this coffee shop drawing every day before work.

{26/365} Tenacity.

{26/365} Tenacity.

{27/365} There’s a new gym in town and they are pretty cool.

{27/365} There’s a new gym in town and they are pretty cool.

{28/365} Playing with an old lens at the beach on a cold day.

{28/365} Playing with an old lens at the beach on a cold day.

{29/365} #everydaylife except I drive a small car so don’t have to do this very often.

{29/365} #everydaylife except I drive a small car so don’t have to do this very often.

{30/365} Nella my neighbor playing in the snow while my car battery gets charged in the background. :D

{30/365} Nella my neighbor playing in the snow while my car battery gets charged in the background. :D

{31/365} The niece and my mom. Aren’t they cute toghether?

{31/365} The niece and my mom. Aren’t they cute toghether?

There we go! Ended the month on a good note — photo shoot in the cold (my camera and fingers weren’t super happy) then warmed up by the fire with these two playing apple to apples until the sun was gone. Now we are moving on to February!

And another photo shoot in the cold…

Stay Warm! xo ~ jb

Personal: My {2018} 365 Photo Project

In 2018 I decided to take part in a 365 photo project with a few other photographers in my area. The challenge is to make a photo EVERY DAY for the entire year. In 2017 I had done a photo a week project, and loved how the project made me bring my camera out more often. It’s easy as photographers to silp into only bringing the gear out for paid shoots, and maybe the occasional family gathering. I needed a reminder of how much I love to photograph every day life.

So a photo a week turned into a photo a day. And now that the year is done and the images are edited and the slideshow has been made, I can see that this was no small task. A year stretching out on the horizon seems like an exciting oportunity and a daunting task at the same time. 365 chances to make a photo! But also holy cow 365 days of making photos!! I had to break it down for myself, so it would not feel overwhelming.

First, I had to develop the habit. I did a 21 day habit building exercise, where i wrote every day about this habit and then put the lesson to work. The mindset here is the belief that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit.

Second, I decided to take things one month at a time, but also one DAY at a time. I felt a sense of accomplishment when I was hitting the end of my first month, and then struggled with feeling like I ended the month with an image I wasn’t happy with. This happened a few times if I’m being honest — I would feel great about another month under my belt, but then finish with an image that wasn’t that strong.

{reality check: THAT’S OK}

SO, Third, I reminded myself that YES there are 365 opportunities but some days will be better than others. Some days we are just better at some things, some days we are making sure we get to the end of the day. Learning to be forgiving and let some days feel maybe mediocre, and remind myself that part of this project was about honesty and a splash of perseverance. And the less exciting/inspiring/focused days are like resting spots between the days where there is fun, food, conversation, love, and adventure. So, take them all.

At first I had a small struggle realizing the other photographers doing this had children and adorable fur babies. A constant plethora of photographic subjects. I work from home a lot, have no kids, no pets, and a better half who doesn’t like the attention of a camera. I loved the work I was seeing from others, partly because there was so much energy and honesty. They were capturing these amazing chunks of their everyday life, and the messier the better. I buckled in for a long winter of figuring out how to work around the lack of subject matter in my living space.

But I also knew my option was to work with what I had or go looking for something. As a winter hibernator, I was actually glad for this project and the times it made me bundle up and head out the door. Drive until you find something, head to the beach until your fingers hurt from holding the camera, go visit your family or meet your friends for nachos, even if you already ate. Chase light and life and see what happens. And on the days where that doesn’t happen, slow down and look at things around you and figure out how to photograph it.

I had many moments throughout the year where I was so glad I was doing this project. Glad to the point of feeling incredibly grateful. Grateful for the push, the support, the drive, and for the people in my life and the things we share. I brought my camera to a rally against gun violence. I saw friends and strangers stand together to have their voices heard. I watched people feel the emotion of this time and felt the weight of the moment as I witnessed some of it unfold through my viewfinder. When I loaded the images something looked strange in some of the frames, and I grew concerned I had done something to my gear. But I was in the middle of photographing life every day, so let’s keep going. The something became more of a problem and when I brought me camera to get cleaned I was told there was a hair sharing space in my camera. I looked back through my photo a day project and realized I brought my camera to the hair salon the day before the march. The price of bringing your camera everywhere!

Some days I took over 200 photos, some days 2. One day I looked at my phone will watching Saturday Night Live and saw a post from my photo pals, which made me jolt up in panic that it was 11:42 pm and I had yet to take a photo! I scrambled to get my camera and figure out what to photograph in my dark house. Behold, the refrigerator door! Because when you open it, there is light. Anddddd then I was wide awake for awhile.

I photographed my friends having as much Summer fun as we could in the short time we get it here in Maine. The laughter, the food, the floats, the drinks, the singing. I listened to my friends talk about their struggles with life and family and such, and had moments of wishing the relatives who criticize these friends could see what I see. Photos unfolding in front of me telling the stories of friendship. There are times when this project was humbling that way.

And, of course, the multiple times I got to be with my niece and nephew with the camera. I really like them (super obvious, I know) and actually want to hang out with them often, but we all have lives. This project had me making more efforts to visit and do things with them. Summer evenings in the unicorn castle, excuses to get ice cream, or just show up and play. I would get my photo (and sometimes end up with too many to edit) and would get to hang with them. Works for everyone! Plus, the amount of photos I had at the end of the year to give my family members… it was actually somewhat overwhelming. I printed off close to 300 prints to give to my family both to thank them for supporting my through this, but so they could see how a year in our lives looked. PLUS, the importance of printing your photos! That’s another topic for another blog post. Or several posts.

So, 2018 is a wrap. I’m so glad I got to capture as much of it as I did. Since I didn’t feel like stopping on 12/31/2018, I have continued on with a repeat project for 2019!

Thank you for following along!

Here’s to more real moments for all of us in 2019! xo ~ jb

Family Photos:: Winter Fun with Jan Fam

The holidays are over, and a new year has begun. I like this time of year as a chance to regroup, reassess, maybe reorganize, and get ready for the year ahead. In the world of family photos, this time of year tends to be very quiet for me. But the thing is, family photos in the snow are actually really fun!

I know. Sounds crazy. But trust me. The only catch is snow day photo shoots are not for everyone. They are, however, great for the fun, silly, outdoorsy, or adventurous ones. And after we are done having fun in the snow, it’s a great excuse to hang out and do something warm and cozy back inside. Hot chocolate, baking, pj’s for the rest of the day… or grab the sleds and keep keep the outdoor fun going.

Jan and her girls, always up for whatever.

Jan and her girls, always up for whatever.

This year I got to hang out with Jan and her girls again. Lucky us, because it snowed the night before their shoot. So what started with pj’s and a photo-bombing cat, moved outside to the yard with fun, jumping, and laughter. Plus a color palette that had this photog nerding out a bit.

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These colors!

These colors!

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I’m not sure if it was the snow that had us laughing almost the whole time, or just how hilarious they all are when they are together. Either way, my cameras and I were loving it. The light was great, the fun was plentiful, and even the parking lot made for a good back drop because that is the magic of a fresh pile of snow (and most of the cars moved out of their normal spots for plowing).

It would have been easy to decide we should reschedule (except not really, considering the time of year). But we knew this would give us photos we haven’t gotten at our other sessions. I’m so glad we both agreed it was game on because we would not have gotten these images and these colors had we rescheduled.

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So, I’m here to encourage you to schedule the photo shoot, not worry about the weather, and find a way to capture you and your people living and having fun together. Sounds like a great way to kick off 2019!

Sisters. xo

Sisters. xo