Journaling and Journalism and Personal Photography

This past weekend we went out with a couple of other New Jersey families to Cranks Around the Campfire.

I’ve wanted to go to this mountain biking/camping/family-friendly event for a few years now but each year it has coincided with our annual pilgrimage up to New England in the VW to go swimming in various lakes. This year though, we didn’t do our annual summer trip so we were in NJ and were available. So a few months ago we organized with a few other families to attend.

So glad we did. It was a blast. Not quite as fun as wandering around in Vermont or Maine in the Vanagon for a couple of weeks but a great way to sleep outdoors and ride bikes and hang together as a family unit and bid the summer goodbye.

As I was going through my pictures from the weekend though I was a bit disappointed with the photos that I shot. Even though I brought my Fuji with me instead of relying on my iPhone, I still wasn’t very happy with my photos. Some were technically good but I didn’t really capture the context.

Which gets me thinking about the food writing I did and the advice the editor gave me about photos I took to accompany my articles: capture as much information as possible. That is great advice, even for taking pictures of family trips. Maybe even especially when taking pictures of family trips.

I am so grateful for the stint I did writing over at PieHole. For one thing, it made me soooo much better at being comfortable asking people questions. Interviewing a couple of people a week for a year or so can really get you out of your head/shell and more comfortable just approaching anyone and asking them about themselves.

And the thing is that people really like to talk about themselves. Until I did the food writing gig I was always uncomfortable asking people questions because I didn’t want to intrude. So that’s one thing.

But then there was the whole photography end of the food writing gig. I wanted to take technically correct photos of food. But that didn’t serve the journalism. Instead what I learned was taking pictures of people doing things they loved, interacting with tools or places they knew well–that’s a much better way to take a photo.

Unfortunately I have gotten rusty on both of these fronts:

  • I’m not asking strangers enough questions and
  • I’m not approaching my personal photography with the same need-for-context that I did back when I was writing food stories.

Just a note to self to try a bit harder here!