Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Picture Perfect Outside the Lens

Fall has arrived as evidenced by football, red and gold leaves, crisp afternoon air and the inevitable desire to drive half an hour to a farm, get hay in every crevice on your body, let a goat lick your son and then trudge out to the field to get your own dang pumpkin off the vine while you pay the farmer for your labor. 
 Ahh, the smell of cider and irony.
Tyler had a rare afternoon home last week so we decided to take Landon to Circle S Farms, the same farm where Tyler grew up picking his pumpkin (from a perfect patch of pretty plump pumpkins with his pal Peter). (Not really Peter). (Although I wasn’t there so I don’t know). (But I’m pretty sure). 
It was actually really quite a fun experience being able to be on a real farm with real animals and real hay barns with slides (which must make collecting hay in harvest season pretty fun) and take a real tractor ride out to find our very own perfect pumpkin (I have nothing to say here, it just felt like time for some parentheses). I am still finding pieces of hay in Landon’s diaper and, thanks to this experience, we now know that he is terrified of chickens. 
Landon's ultimate nightmare
Needless to say ( ), it was a memorable experience. And that, my friend Peter, is my point. 
We came away from that evening with close to a hundred pictures, not counting video footage. From the second we stepped out of the car, both Tyler and I felt the need to document every second of this “memorable” experience to ensure that it would truly be “memorable.” We have pictures of us walking from the car to the ticket booth. From the ticket booth to the farm. From the farm to the barn. We have pictures of Landon in every conceivable corner of the farm, with every conceivable animal and sitting on every conceivable bale of hay and next to every inconceivable giant pumpkin. We wanted Landon to play on the tractor, to hug the scarecrow, to lie on the gigantic pumpkin because Oh! What a cute picture that would be! The point was to document this “fun” experience by posing him “having fun.” 
The funny thing was, the more we tried to capture his “fun” the more he wasn’t having any. We wanted him to sit on the tractor and laugh for the camera as he pretended to drive. He wanted to pick up chicken poop. 

Seriously, Mom. What more do you want from me?
It wasn’t just us, either. All around us were parents struggling with wailing kids in order to get just the right shot (Parker, I don’t care if the hay scratches your legs, roll around in it like you love it!). The interesting thing is that by documenting the memory with such fervor we tend to lose out on the experience itself. 
After awhile, we calmed down with the camera and took in the scenes around us. That’s  where, at least for me, the real memory begins. Landon laughing as the goats licked his hand and running to hug my legs as the chicken came closer. Tromping through the hay barn, sinking every couple steps like quick sand, letting Landon plop! into the pile at the end of the slide and hearing his delighted laugh. Tyler holding Landon’s hand through a row of corn stalks. Watching Landon’s little face switch back and forth from slightly worried to exhilarated as the tractor lurched it’s way across the field. These are the pictures indelibly imprinted in my mind. These are the memories worth remembering. 
That’s not to say taking pictures is not a good idea. I am glad we took a lot of the pictures that we did. Many pictures that we have invoke happy feelings of wonderful memories. The importance, I think, is to allow the moment to dictate the record, not the other way around. 

Okay, I do love this one. Probably because we weren't forcing him to look happy.
Perhaps I need to learn to find a happy medium, or at the very least, get better at taking actual candid pictures. But until then I am going to try to make an effort to experience moments with my family by taking in the total sum of the moment and etching it in my mind - the light, the smell, the laughter, the subtle expressions and nuances - unencumbered by a lens. Or guilt. 
Because I’d take the memory of my son’s giggle as the goat licks his hand over a picture of him crying next to a giant pumpkin any day. 


  1. this is so true! we have become a picture-happy society and i am guilty too. i only require my family to take a good picture once a year, and then the rest i'm just happy with what i can get. sometimes we have great memories and pictures, and sometimes just great memories. and sometimes neither, haha.

  2. I totally get this!

    Here is my take on pictures: you need at least one. So you can say "Oh yeah, remember that we did that?". After that, it's all gravy.

    But here's my perfect solution for you: fly me out with my camera (not like it's anything fancy, in fact, I might just use my phone camera) to follow you around and document the cuteness while you focus on the fun. You get to have fun and photos, and I get to see Captain Cutie-Cute. Win-win.

  3. Thats why we have Jennie she has been here for a month and she can take our pictures for us I totally recommend it. I am sure she would be happy to take some pics for you...:)! Landon is so cute!