On taking, and editing, pictures - Kathleen Celmins
On taking pictures and finally editing them

On taking, and editing, pictures

I have a great camera (Canon 6D, full frame), enough excellent lenses that I don’t feel like anything is missing (a zoom, a wide angle, a macro and a 50 that opens up to 1.2!), a holster belt where I can wear both the baby and the camera, a not-too-dorky backpack where I can carry the camera and most of the lenses, and a killer light (not a flash! no blinking!) with its own bag that will hold the zoom lens too.

I’m set for gear.

I took pictures at Eric and Mary’s wedding, and I think they turned out great, although they asked for all the files, even the blurry ones, so I assume they didn’t like the way they were edited. I’ll never know for sure, though, because they are kind and polite and won’t give tough feedback.

Anyway, I love taking pictures.

I love getting my stuff together and going. Often the stars won’t align for me to carry my camera (mostly related to weather — I don’t mind getting rained on, but I don’t want to ruin any of my gear!), but when I do, I simply love it.

I love taking pictures of people. I think sometimes I don’t carry my camera with me because I know I have a different experience doing something if I’m there as a photographer instead of an active participant. So when I want to be fully present, I leave my gear at home.

I get excited when I take a picture that turns out the way I want (or better than I expected — this is the thrill that only amateurs get, professionals know what to expect). I’ll show whoever is nearby the preview on the camera.

But there’s a mental block when it comes to what to do with the pictures when I get home.

What should happen is that I get home from somewhere, take the memory card out of the camera, put it in the computer, and open my photo editing software.

What happens instead is that I put everything back, charge the battery, and have an empty camera bag once more.

It’s not that I dislike editing, either. I love seeing pictures come together.

So why don’t I just do it?

My family came down last weekend, and in one of the breaks in an otherwise stormy and miserable weekend (weather-wise only!), we took family pictures in front of our house. Caitlin set up the tripod, aimed the camera at the house, and we figured out how to do the ten second thing (one thing missing in my gear arsenal is a remote shutter!) We made everyone dress nice, because Caitlin made an adorable dress for Clara and we all needed to step up our look to match the baby.

We took about ten pictures, and four turned out okay.

But the point I’m trying to make in this story is that right after we took the pictures, Dad asked me to share them. “I will,” I promised, obviously meaning, “one day, maybe when I don’t have anything else going on, I will perhaps pull the memory card out of my camera.”

Dad knows me better, and what’s more, he was an excellent film photographer, so he knows a thing or two about what it takes to get pictures off a camera.

A day or two later, he sent an email. Nothing in the body, just a subject line: “Don’t forget to share those photos of the family” it said.

I was annoyed.

Doesn’t he know how much I have going on? I wondered, self importantly. I’ll get to them when I get to them!

But of course, he was right.

How long does it take to edit ten pictures, which ended up being four?

The answer: not long, of course. And they’re cute!

But the bigger question is: why am I so happy to share pictures I took ten seconds ago from a MUCH crappier camera than my Canon? Am I really that lazy?

Photo journalists take pictures, then edit them, then upload them. So do sports photographers. Imagine holding onto a game-winning touchdown for longer than ten seconds after they take their photo.

Where is that mental block, and how can I work past it?

One answer I have is to ask my dad to harass me about photos. “Did you share those photos you said you would?” will get me opening Lightroom faster than anything else.

But I am 36 years old. Do I really need my dad to get me to do what needs to be done?

Maybe the answer is reps. Take more pictures. Edit them ASAP. Share them.

That last part hangs me up, too. We don’t share pictures of Clara’s face on social media, and we ask anyone who does take a picture of her face to do the same. It’s Brent’s preference, and one that sounds less and less crazy now that Facebook is telling Congress about all the data they’re keeping on us. So we have a Clara iPhoto sharing folder (because Apple is less malevolent, if they were more, then Siri wouldn’t suck so much) that a handful of family members and friends have access to.

And I just found out I can make iPhoto albums public, which is great, but that means I can only share over email. (Want to see pictures from Nebraska? Email me!)

Which makes me think of those times when Rachel and I used to take a bunch of pictures of a weekend event and share them on those sites where you ONLY uploaded pictures to print them. Shutterfly and whatnot.

I think part of my mental block is that I don’t print pictures anymore. I have them saved to an external hard drive. I need to print pictures, and put them up. Maybe even just sticky tack them to the walls in my house, so they’re not precious. So they can be swapped out. So I can see them.

Because as it stands now, the only place I see photos with regularity is when I look at my lock screen or my home screen.

And those are just pictures I took with my phone.

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