I think we can all agree on certain broad principles when it comes to the art of caputuring light, but what about the art of living? Let me explain, and hopefully your experience with this week’s photo challenge will be as heartwarming as it is visually satisfying.
Photography is an art which is easier than many others to analyze scientifically. As a big fan of abstract images, focused on form and color (see last week’s challenge), I don’t mean that in a negative way, but it’s true—not only do general visual design principles apply, the precise sciences of optical engineering, sensor design, and other key technologies offer endless rabbit holes by which to assess both the photographic process and its results.
What’s not so easy to define is the human or emotional dimension that can make a photo truly great. There’s a difference between photos which are meaningful to you because of yout personal connection to the material and photos which resonate universally, and though few people can articulate the exact difference, we all recognize it when we see it.
Your challenge this week is to attempt to capture the universal delight that comes from someone simply being nice to someone else. Even if you can’t quite universalize a particular experience, there’s a lot of joy that comes from honoring a moment of kindness, both for the recipient (as the memory will bring a smile again and again) and for the kind person themselves, who may not often get recognized for a life lovingly lived.
The photo above is a great example. My wife shot this offhand portrait of her best friend years ago while we were painting and moving into a new place. The dinner break itself was not specifically significant, but her smile coupled with the “work in progress” setting captures perfectly her innocent pleasure at being a part of building something new and special. (Thanks again!) And, honestly, genuine smiles are a kindness worth capturing in themselves.
Someone helping a neighbor shovel a difficult path? That’s something that at least all of us Coloradans can certainly appreciate. With the grandkids there to watch and learn? That’s a great, multidimensional photo!
Speaking of multidimensional, here’s a photo I appreciate for it’s lines, color, and myriad textures, but which I also appreciate for the associated memories. It’s not universal, admittedly, but rather than being merely a reminder of a blown tire and a bad time on the road, it reminds me of the time a stranger paid for an emergency repair simply because we took the time to listen to his story.
On the flip side of that coin, consider how impactful photos can be for you and use that to understand what a gift your photos can be for other people. When my wife and I travel and stay with friends or family, we often leave them with an Instax print to commemorate the meeting, an aerial photo of their dwelling, or some other photo meant to add joy to their lives. A thank you is one thing, but a thank you photo? That’s a force not to be underestimated!
That’s something we understand as a company, too. For several years now, as we did last Saturday, Mike’s Camera has hosted the USO’s Portraits of Love, providing free family portraits for military families as a recognition of their service. Some kids have never seen themselves in an actual printed photo, and it can get pretty emotional.
A few more ideas to get the wheels turning:
- Capture someone sharing their talent with someone who needs it (even if that’s just being tall)
- Capture someone taking time to learn more about what someone else loves about life
- Before chowing down on coffee or donuts shared kindly by a coworker, take a minute to make them into a little art—or capture how much another beneficiary enjoys that small gift
- If a friend shares their art with you, show your appreciation by photographing it looking its best and share with your other friends how great it is
- When a small business (or even a big one!) gives you an outstanding experience, take a photo to document why it was so great and share it with your friends or on a review page
The only limit to what you might capture is the kindness of the human heart, and I’d like to believe that’s not much of a limit at all.
If you give this one a shot, I’d love for you to do us all a kindness in turn and share your results! Leave a post on our Facebook page or upload to Instagram with the tags #mymikescamera #halfweekhomework and spread some love.