I’ve always been a fan of the little moments in life. When I’m at a wedding, I often think about how the bride and groom will wake up on a regular Saturday morning together, and how a lifetime of those Saturday mornings cumulatively say more about them than their wedding day with all its pomp, its wedding planner’s work, its limosine and fancy wear. Because life happens in a series of small happenings, occurrences and moments strung together that define who we really are.
Which is why I enjoy making street photographs. They are the depiction of life’s little moments, not grand days like Thanksgiving, Christmas or a wedding day. But the small moments that make up our lives.
John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” I’ll add, “Life is those moments that you do on an ordinary day.” Where do you go, what do you do? Do you regularly walk for exercise? Going out once doesn’t count. Do you typically watch TV? Or snack? Or stare at your phone? Or garden? Or make photographs or some other art? Or play cards with friends? Or meet up with buddies at bars for beers? Or stay home and watch sports?
These are the things that define us, what we do today. And yesterday and tomorrow. As photographers, as important as that wedding album is, so is it imperative we photograph these moments shared with family, friends, even alone.
They reveal who we really are.
Any photographers who are looking for subjects, I say photograph the ordinary, the things in your world that tell your story. Tuesday night dinner of leftovers. Playing Boggle with your spouse. Reading in bed. The dog waking your spouse up with a lick on a sleepy Sunday morning.
If you’re in college, photos of you hanging out with friends. The Newsweek photojournalist David Burnett who has traveled the world making historic photographs has said of all the photos he’s made, he wishes he had some of his pals in college just hanging out together. Sharing time, being buds. But back then, nobody made those photographs. No one thought to, they were busy making jokes and having fun.
It takes effort to pick your camera up in the middle of a game night with friends, to step out of the activity to frame it and photograph it. But if we don’t, the moment will be a memory only.
The beautiful thing about being photographers is that we can use the photographs to relive those moments together again and again as we build a collection of these moments that make up our lives.