Beth Jennings – The Journey Captured » I capture the journey of people in their personal and professional lives. I teach amateur photographers how to capture their life in beautiful photos. Photography, Melbourne Photographer, Photography Workshops, dSLR Camera Workshops, Creative Camera Course, Photo Course Melbourne, Camera Class Melbourne

Why more isnt necessarily better

In the digital age of photography, do you find you take more pictures now than ever before?

And do you think that’s a good thing? That you can take more, because costs have come down and you no longer pay for film and processing?

If you’re thinking yes, more is better, then my question is this – do you believe you value each and every one of those hundreds of pictures? Do you go back in time, dig them up, and click through image after image after image, reliving every single moment captured?

000 Why more isnt necessarily better Angus
Today, my nephew Angus turned six. My goodness, when did that happen?!

I, like everybody else, have thousands of pictures of Angus and his sister Lauren. I rarely spend time reliving these stories inside Lightroom (where they are catalogued and produced).

Viewing them all can be a static experience where I miss the opportunity to let one single image flow over me when it’s swamped by all the others around it. Pretty soon, my brain gets bored and I move onto something else. I suspect you may be experiencing the same thing with your digital photos too.

What I’m going to show you today is just seven images, taken from Angus as a newborn until now at age 6.

One image for each year of his life.

It’s hard to imagine you could do that, but with a ‘less is more’ mentality, you’ll see the power in it.

Angus – newborn

He came home from the hospital with clicky hips, so he was like a frog for three months
in a harness. Laying on his back so much meant his soft newborn head flattened at the back,
a change that was alarming for everyone. In time, as the harness came off and he was more vertical,
his head took a more natural, round shape. In those first few weeks he could hardly keep his eyes open.
It was a rare moment to capture him awake and yawning.
He has always loved the colour blue and I wonder if this little outfit had anything to do with it.
This picture always reminds me of how tiny, pure and soft he was.

00 Why more isnt necessarily better Angus

Angus – age 1

My sister Heather and I took the children to visit her friends in Hobart, Tasmania. We had all four children
together and of course he was so little he still needed to be held a lot. Watching all the children together I
noticed how Angus was a quieter and more observing soul. He was content in the detail and fascinated by
the story book. He was bald for a long time which we all found so endearing, so cute!!
I always loved his soft round head! And that gorgeous little chin…

01 Why more isnt necessarily better Angus

Angus – age 2

Little Angus at this point was up and about on his feet, exploring the world. His dad had a beat up old truck
and Angus loved nothing more than to get up on the tray with careful watchful parents out of shot.
His hair had grown in and to this day he still has that gorgeous little blond swirl at the base of his neck.
He’s starting to look like a little boy now, wearing shoes and overalls.

02 Why more isnt necessarily better Angus

Angus – age 3

They say around age three boys start to really watch their fathers. Darren is a very earthy, practical,
hands-on, DIY person and he’d made this veggie patch at the back of the house. If Darren’s in
there gardening, so is Angus. So of course he has his little gum boots and spade.
It was just starting to splatter big, slow raindrops and one had caught Angus’ head.
He’s looking up to his Mum wondering what it is. At this stage Angus had these
gorgeous little arms that wrapped around your neck when you hugged him
and his little arm reaching up reminds me of that.

03 Why more isnt necessarily better Angus

Angus – age 4

By this stage Angus was beginning to explore arts and crafts as most kids do.
This was a typical Sunday afternoon activity where the dining table was transformed
into a painting studio. What was so sweet about this moment was Angus was less concerned
with the painting and more interested in the brushes. For quite some time he gently brushed his
and everyone else’s cheeks that afternoon. At this time in his life everybody noticed his particular
interest in the finer details, which seems to still be part of his character now, two years later.
I loved that the button nose, lips and chin were still hanging around.

04 Why more isnt necessarily better Angus

Angus – age 5

A big change has happened in their family life. The suburban home has been sold and the family has moved
to a property in the country and any day now a new house was to commence construction. I drove back to
Canberra from Melbourne this particular day and stopped by their house on the way in. It was blowing a
gale and Angus was finding all the fun he could muster on this mound of dirt. He didn’t care how dirty or
cold he was, all he wanted to do was play with his trucks and make castles and moats. His attention to
details was extending into building things and it seems this move into the wide open spaces had been great
for him. This was the first time I saw a different kind of Angus who was much more
confident, independant and risk-taking.

05 Why more isnt necessarily better Angus

Angus – age 6

This was taken in March this year on a family holiday to New Zealand to celebrate my Dad’s 70th.
We based in Queenstown and stayed in a hotel opposite the central lake so every day the children
could go across the road and play with the sand and water. It was cold by this final hour of daylight
but Angus didn’t care and I remember how intent he was on the little tasks that he and his sister
Lauren were undertaking. He had a moment where he stood up and threw his arms up and I thought
what a stunning image this was to showcase his very expressive and adventurous childhood,
and how he was thriving. His arms and legs have grown longer and he hasn’t an ounce of fat on him!
I just love his little wobbly knock-knees and at this point I know it’s not long before his body will
start to fill out. See the little swirl of blond hair at the base of his neck? Still there.

06 Why more isnt necessarily better Angus

Do you see how less is more? That just one image can conjure up so many stories associated with the moment the picture was taken. I could put each of these pictures on the walls of my house.

They would each stand on their own and serve not only to tell the story of Angus’s childhood but also as works of art.

Did you also notice that because I only gave you one image to view per year of Angus’s life, that you took much longer to view each one? And that the more you looked, the more you found?

Don’t get me wrong – I love the technology and that I can do SO much in post production to help me express what I want to say in photographs. However, I still only put up the best for the world to see, even if it’s just one image.

Showing several images that vary little from capture to capture dilutes the impact and allows the viewer to be lazy. I think the ‘less is more’ practice has been lost in the transition to digital which has ultimately impacted on the perception that photography is a skilled craft.

I say, make them (the viewers of your photographs) work for it. It will ultimately be a richer viewing experience for them.

So if you’re busy capturing your life in photographs, my suggestion to you is to slow down in-camera. Then, showcase just a very select few out of the set, that you will continue to view well into the future – because your future self will thank you.

Happy birthday Angus!!!!

Love, Beth xxx

Vardi Jacobs - June 23, 2014 - 6:21 pm

I loved every word that you wrote and devoured every grain/texture/light/detail of the finished photos of your nephew, Angus. I am “guilty” of taking zillions of photos of the family occasion/travel spot/person and have not yet selected the best of the bunch.
Thank you for reminding me that less is more in photography as it is in cooking, letter writing, chats with long time friends and strangers alike.

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