Since before our daughters were born, my wife and I have had the good fortune of planning and enjoying trips all over the world together. Their arrival didn’t slow us down, it only made the planning a bit more challenging, at least in the beginning. Eighteen years, 120+ flights later, multiple continents and dozens of remote islands out in the middle of nowhere and what do we have to show for it? About ten thousand family vacation photos!
It’s always great to hear comments from friends and family… “that picture is amazing!” or my favorite comment, “can you adopt me?” Their reaction like the rest, is warranted.
Good photography or not, it’s hard not to get a great shot when your backdrop is a once-in-a-lifetime destination working in concert with a family that loves adventure.
But the truth is, that if a picture is worth a thousand words, then an unedited picture is worth ten thousand more. You see for every perfectly composed, well-lit and cropped picture there’s a story leading up to the shot, or one carefully left outside of the frame.
For the most part, my own pictures have captured what I call touchpoints across our family’s history, that expose the general truth of life with the Kavadoys. We like to travel, we like nice things, and we enjoy spending time together. Cue the Hallmark movie or in our case, the annual Christmas card that says, “Life is Grand in Kavadoy Land”.
Well… I’m here to show you how the sausage is made! Here’s what you don’t see:
Moments before we pulled off the side of the road to get this picture, the girls and I had decided that every time we get to a new roundabout (anywhere in the world), we would have to drive around it seven times. Which we had just done, minutes before I decided to pull off the road to capture this shot. The test shot which I take to adjust my settings, shows the family waiting “patiently” for dad to set up the tripod. It doesn’t always tell the story of what’s actually happening.
Sometimes, as was the case here, I just happened to capture expressions that are the furthest thing from the truth. The test shot didn’t capture the belly laughs we were experiencing moments before while we were confusing the locals and embarrassing my wife as we looped the roundabout seven times. Those are the images that can’t be edited… the ones I keep for myself.
This is a good representation of what does happen as I’m setting up my tripod to get that “once-in-a-lifetime” sunset picture that we have taken a thousand times! My wife and girls are generally enjoying the scenery, having a laugh and waiting patiently for dad. Fortunately, I only take three to four shots. One test shot, one without me, two with all of us. It takes 5 minutes and then we go back to enjoying our vacation. But on this occasion, I heard the word “turtle”!
I quickly grabbed my gear and ran to get this picture of the turtle a short distance away from where we were standing. Because I didn’t have time to set up my tripod I blasted a few shots, forgetting that my flash was on. Long story short, a local came over and read me the riot act. This led to an argument with my wife, which led to the worst, most uncomfortable dinner we’ve ever had as a family while on vacation. We had to apologize to our daughters, it was awful! Those are the images I want deleted from my memories.
Here’s the thing. We live in a world that’s been turned upside down, where black and white doesn’t exist and everything is relative. Just because some things are more challenging to quantify, doesn’t mean that they are unquantifiable! The temperature outside might be 75 degrees, which to some is perfect, and to others is too cold, but it doesn’t negate the absolute quantity.
When we allow perception to become reality, and we don’t look beyond the blurred or altered picture, we lose the ability to think well and look beyond what’s there.
Buying into “face value” desensitizes us and slowly mortifies our ability to discern the difference between the filtered versus the factual. And more importantly, to aspire to better things than an altered reality. Take a moment to think well and look beyond what you are perceiving to be true. Look beyond what you see and practice looking at the bigger picture. By doing so, you’ll be exercising versus atrophying the muscle that goal-getters use to achieve what matters most.
Hope this was a good reminder to look at what’s not there, to consider the things outside of the frame.