Document your life

Why do we take photos?

Do we just shoot posed relatives with pyramids in the background? Or perhaps we are artistic photographers who shoot carefully lit set-up shots like this (three speedlights, using Pocketwizards)?

Yes, that too – of course. Sure, as a photographer you have a preference. Travel. Your kids. Portraits. Parties. Weddings. All great stuff. Do it.

But I urge you all to also shoot “your ordinary life”.

The Beatles became famous in spite of (or because of?) the fact that they wrote about the ordinary lives of ordinary Englishmen. I urge you all to shoot your own life.

Like the traffic jam you find yourself in on your way to a class that reduces your progress to less than walking speed. Grab your camera!

Or the jam you find yourself in eight hours later leaving the class, even though it is almost 8pm (Toronto’s rush hour now lasts from 7am until 8pm):

Or the McDonalds where you buy lunch, wondering when the lady on the left will give birth – she looks ten months pregnant – or why the lady on the right is talking loudly to herself and Jesus (this is downtown Toronto, in an area with many, shall we say needy people):

Or the nice ladies in the class who have great cameras and are learning more about them than they thought possible:

Or indeed the view – and the light – from the front porch at the end of the day, when you are unwinding with a nice glass of Californian Syrah:

The point is – your ordinary life is very much worth documenting. I wish today that I had pictures like this of my life ten years ago, or 20 years ago, or indeed 30 years ago when I was in Baghdad. If you document a day in your life today, ten years from now it’ll be “those were the days”. Invaluable for you, and for your kids, and for your great-grandchildren.

So the tip of the day: document an ordinary day in your ordinary life.

Boot notes: I used the Fuji X100 today, still shooting in JPG mode, for all these images except the first. And I am still amazed at how well it works. The indoors and evening shots were taken at 1600 and 3200 ISO. You can’t tell. 3200 is the new 800! Secondly: as before, I hasten to assure you that I would never take images from a moving vehicle – that is illegal and unsafe.


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