An Easy Decision

An Easy Decision

My heart hurts. Another school shooting, another reason for our kids (and parents!) not to feel safe, and another bunch of nothing gets fixed.

Aiden has to do school drills to practice being safe if something terrible happened. In my day, drills were for tornadoes – natural occurrences that you can’t control. Our parents had bombing drills, and we all decided that hiding from nuclear weapons wasn’t a thing we wanted to do. Hence: arms control.

Today, drills are for something we can control, but fail to do anything about. It’s silly.

Glad to see the Florida students shame our politicians, and (hopefully) many Americans who feel our kids aren’t worth protecting.

I’m pro hunting, pro owning a shotgun or a handgun – but also pro safety and controlling these killing machines from the crazies. We can have both.

Most of all, I’m in favor of kids over guns. It should be an easy decision, America.

Make And Take

Leave it to me to schedule our Family Art Studio session for the snow storm weekend.

But so it went. We drove to Ann Arbor, braving the highway traffic and slick conditions, to spend the day making art at my work.

This was the boy’s first trip to an art museum, and he had a lot of questions. Were the statues real? Why can’t you touch the art? That bust of George Washington – where’s the rest of his body? Why was that girl so hairy?

We took inspiration from Japanese graphic design and made our own poster out of cut-out shapes of colored paper. It was us and six other families – half of what was scheduled to show up.

“The difference between your art on the fridge and these drawings is that there’s a frame around them, and they’re hanging in a museum,” I said.

I hope he took the day to heart.

Snow Day

There’s nothing like a snow storm to get the family out of the cabin fever funk.

It’s also a great excuse to get the ol’ point and shoot camera out, dust off the lens, and take some photos of the outside activities. Despite the broken battery door, my Canon PowerShot SD750 still works great, and shoots fine.

This thing and me go way back. We’ve been on many adventures, from road trips through New England to hiking in Zion, and all of life before I purchased my first DSLR.

This weekend, when the snow started to accumulate, I broke out the SD750 while me and the boy went sledding, and then to capture all the fun in the yard when we got home. After all, if it gets wet, no big loss.

A side benefit: the photo files loaded lickety split into Lightroom.

Say Cheese

Say Cheese

It’s a hard habit to break, having your kids say “cheese” whenever they see the camera come out.

Our own kids started saying “cheese” almost out of nowhere, and at a very young age.

Meanwhile, I strive for those in-between moments when taking photos of the family. I want their real faces, and real smiles, so I’ve learned to be sneaky and quick. Those in-between photos are the ones I treasure, collect, and share.

Sure, the grandparents want a nice framed photo of the kids looking at the camera and smiling. Family snapshots have looked like that since our parents were kids. Again: a hard habit to break.

Me, I want some real life in my photos.

It’s made me think about making family photos for friends and family. My paid gigs are few and far between these days, but when I do get asked about taking family portraits, I want to make a suggestion: How about we hang out for a morning, and just let me capture what happens in between the Cheeses? There’s some intimacy involved, yes, but like a good photojournalism assignment, the good pictures are made by simply being there and capturing what happens.

Gaze and Shrug

Surrounded By the Whole

“I once needed to shout from the rooftops but have now said my piece. Can we be done at some point? Can we gaze upon this world and shrug, content with the work we’ve done? God I hope not. The mere thought of it depresses me.” – Patrick LaRoque

Before the Break

Sure, it’s nice – getting a week between Christmas and New Year’s off as a freebie vacation week. That week is one of the many benefits of working in higher ed.

Except when you’re sick.

It hit us the weekend before Christmas: a scratch throat, a groggy unease, and sinus pain that felt like continual just-before-you-sneeze agony. Then, from Christmas day to just this week, a persistent sickness. It didn’t ruin the holidays, but it certainly wasn’t fun.

Maybe it’s a good thing I had that week off. But there are better ways to spend a vacation than homebound misery.

So I took the usual Christmas morning photos of the kids opening presents. Other than that, and despite some big photo plans I had, I just didn’t get much done. Instead, I’ll share some pre-Christmas fun in the playroom with the kids.

Before the snow fell. Before the presents showed up under the tree. Before the misery.

Year After Year

O Holy Day [Explored]

Every year, I give a simple gift to my side of the family: a calendar of full-page photos from the previous year, showing all the kids in the family doing their thing. Easter, summer, Halloween, birthdays – it’s all in there.

And every year, the calendars are a hit.

I’ve been giving photo calendars since before I had kids of my own – probably five years or longer – and there’s no gift that makes a splash like they do. My family tears them open, thumbs through the photos, and remembers the year that was. You’d think they’d get old (“Another calendar? C’mon, Dave.”), but they don’t.

What keeps them fresh? We keep adding family members. That means new birthdays get added to the calendar portion, and new photos of new people appear up top. I added a kiddo to this year (Riley, in April). Family variety, in photo form.

“Sometimes I’ll take out the photos and frame them,” someone told me this year. What a nice thought: an 11×16″ photo worthy of a hanging on the wall for longer than a month.

I often feel like I’m taking the easy gift route for Christmas, giving away family photos year after year. But you know, they’re never not appreciated. I think it’s the variety thing, but I also think it’s because no one prints photos anymore, so any picture of a grandkid that one can hold is a true gift.

We can share our photo talents so easily starting with the ones we love.

Home for the Holidays

Everything is different this year: new house, new family dynamic, and heck – even a new place for our Christmas tree.

This time we went to the well-known family name, the one you pass on the highway with the big sign. And wouldn’t you know it, the nice weather met us there and made for a fun family outing (and great photos). It’s one of those holiday traditions we look forward to every year.

Like Christmas Vacation, right? Everyone loves that movie. You can’t help but think of the Griswolds every time you head out to the countryside to grab a Christmas tree.

Plenty of things change, but we try to keep these kinds of things steady.