As a photographer, I relish a good shot. Where you can see the crisp lines of the subject, bonus points if they’re in motion and you freeze a single split-second of time into eternity. In today’s world of selfies and unspoken competition to “who has the best insta-feed?” – it’s easy to get only into those images that paint our world as perfectly framed picturesque moments.
But that’s not life. Life is chaotic and messy and more now than ever should we all come to accept that no one is hosting perfect parties – sculpted with crepe paper streamer tents and beautifully fondant-wrapped cakes. Holidays have gone askew – gatherings replaced with conference calls whereby you can’t even talk over each other like most families tend to do. Some of our meals at our table right now are “quarantine versions” based on the latest shopping trip and what may have been available.
We are literally being forced to live a little uglier. The longer we are this way, if we chose to share our living on social media, we are posting reality. What’s great about it though, is I believe we bond more over reality than beautiful things.
Recently, my beautiful friend, CMarie Fuhrman commented on a “perfectly sculpted image” of my wedding day. I eloped in Vegas and before my intended and I walked out the door in suit and gown, I had placed my camera on the desk, we stood in front of a sun flooded window and we embraced. That chance photo has become one of my favorite images in my life. When I posted it this year in honor of our anniversary, she wrote, “That picture could have never not come out perfectly.”
That got my heart thinking. Especially now, wrapped up these crazy times, many images “could have never not come out perfectly.” Not because they are perfectly composed or tack sharp, but because we need to tell this story for ages to come. We should all be telling our story, all of it’s moments, perfect and imperfect, at least to ourselves. Embracing the story we are telling as our own, absorbing it’s lessons into our very being, owning that we are less than ideal and that’s okay.
As a former family and wedding photographer myself, I actually love when the baby loses it and won’t do as asked. I adore a good rose head falling off a stem in a bouquet. I love the crazy dancer who is clearly making a fool of themselves. I am enamored with a rogue toddler who refuses to sit for a portrait. Not because I want images that don’t meet my client’s needs – because this is where the living occurs. When they look back at the time they spent that day – will you remember the perfect rings balanced on the orchid petal? The sculptural icing adrift an Italian cream cake seconds before you cut into it with the knife you are holding (awkwardly) with your spouse? You’ll remember the moments you didn’t anticipate – the ones that surprised your heart.
That’s how life is. It’s not an event, or series of planned events. Mr. Lennon put it best – Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Enjoy the moments that stain your perfect tablecloth – because it means someone is enjoying the food. Take time to revel in mischief or rebellion against “your plan”, take time to take in life with a lens that takes all images and accepts them equally as the beautiful life we are leading, not the life we have organized.
This life is but a series of images, and they “could have never not come out perfectly.” – tragic or happy or otherwise. For this life we are leading is our story, and how we write it is the most beautiful journey of all.