When I look at Instagram this is the impression I get:
Every photographer owns white bedspreads in rooms with white walls and white ceilings, perfect for angelic photos of their blue eyed, blond, curly haired babies sleeping while wearing homemade neutral colored sweaters or magazine worthy pajamas on a furry blanket.
Every photographer has hardwood floors, perfect for capturing the reflections of their solemn faced cherub, sitting in a stream of light with their teddy bear/doll/dog/cat/sibling/something cute or cuddly and oh so photogenic.
Every photographer lives behind the most amazing forrest known to man and everyday beautiful light streams through the trees and on to a soft bed of leaves where the photographers little girl spins in a white dress because white denotes perfection and purism and all things good and holy in the photography world.
Don’t forget the home of a photographer is spotless, their children are spotless and well behaved and when they come to photograph your family you will appear the same way.
Everyone will see your photos and know how lily white perfect your family is. Not how real they are but how pretty they can look in front of a camera.
Yes, you’re reading a lot of snark in my words. Maybe because I’ve been a quiet observer of the photography world for a long time and have become a bit disenchanted with the way photographers like to recreate reality and then get very twisted up inside of their reality does not look like their Instagram feed. Maybe it’s because I had become that photographer and this year I want to disengage from the photography world and capture authenticity.
My house is dirty. My kids are dirty.
I have one off white bedspread my parents gave me and I rarely put it on my bed; no reason why, I just forget I have it. My bedroom walls have horrid brown panels and there isn’t one big, beautiful window casting light on to the bed, the clean children or the hardwood floor. If there was any white in this house my children would have already marked it up or I would have already spilled something on it or my aging dog would have already peed on it.
I’m not rambling about all this to condemn photographers for showcasing pretty pictures of their lives. I understand Instagram and Facebook and blogs are only a snippet of a person’s real life. Those photographers can do what they want. I just prefer not to be one of those photographers. Then again “those photographers” may really have pretty white walls and bedspreads and their lives might actually be that sunny all the time. If it is then that’s what they should showcase because that is their real life. It’s just not mine.
I’m almost 40.
The last four years of my life have turned me upside down and shook most of my insides out and I’ve shoved myself back together and I’m not who I once was. Every day I care less and less and less about what others think of me or what others think I should do or be.
Dr. Seuss said it best “I’m me and there is no one else I’d rather be”.
What a freeing feeling when you no longer see a well lit, white washed view of life and think it has to be your own; when you realize life creates scars that you didn’t ask for, didn’t deserve and that you aren’t alone in not being perfect.
Here is my goal from now on: photograph what I see, perfectly beautiful moments or not. I plan to capture real life and if that real life makes someone a bit uncomfortable or makes them turn away because they don’t see a world of white and sun, and perfect smiles then I’m ok with that because I’m photographing for me, not for perfection.