I started an Introduction to Photography class today. I have always been interested in photography and have wanted to learn how to do more than point-and-shoot for at least a decade. With the class and this blog, I am finally directing some of my energy toward creative pursuits, which is not something I have ever done (nor do I know if I have the ability to do with a great degree of aptitude).
I listened attentively as we reviewed the syllabus. I enjoyed the teacher's discussion of aspects of the history of photography and composition. I took notes furiously when the details of exposure control were introduced. But once he described the assignment, my mind went into a distracted creative freeze. We are to photograph one subject in depth on at least two days, using the basics of manual exposure control. Forget learning how to manually operate the camera; I spent most of the class anxious about what to photograph.
Seeing that in print make me realize how stupid it sounds. I can't decide what to take a picture of? How silly. But it's true. For me, it needs to be easily accessible, able to be photographed in different light at different times of day from different vantage points, and--most challengingly--should be something meaningful or interesting to me if I'm to "bring something" to the photograph. No pressure there. The vast majority of photographs I've ever taken are drunken party pics and photos of my kids. I had a brief period in my early married life when I tried to be a photographer of beautiful things, but much has changed since then.
The spiral notebook I took to class pretty well encapsulates the changes. Beneath the extraneous electronics cables in my husband's desk, I found a single spiral notebook to take to class. Half of it was already written in. Page one, dated 2/11, contains a chart of 5 columns labeled Time, L, R, Wet, and Dirty, with times, numbers and Xs scattered on the page. A repeated variation of this chart appears on the next nine pages. Page two, dated 2/19, is entitled "2-wk check-up" and lists the following: "gas, mark, migraine meds, public."
My first child was born on February 5, 2004, and as any recently new parent will recognize, my spiral notebook was previously devoted to my newborn's nursing and diaper changing schedule. I've blanked on some of the items to discuss at his check-up, but I am certain that the gas was his and the migraines were mine. The chart continues for a few pages after the two-week check-up, and the remainder of the notebook pages are devoted to planning my local Newcomers group's family activities and Halloween party when I was a Board member 2008-2009.
This notebook is who I've been since 2004--a mom. Not a professional or a creative individual. Just a mom. With both kids in school full-day and still happily unemployed, I'm trying to expand my horizons beyond "just a mom," but I'm out of practice. I can schedule activities, cook, clean, drive a minivan, read to kids, play board games, bandage simple wounds, and offer unlimited hugs. It's the other things I've forgotten how to do. It's the other things I'm working on. And I suppose it's those other things that I'll need to photograph on two different days this week.