Time. When talking about exposure, time is one of the critical components. I tend to think of how it relates to photography in more abstract ways. Will I have enough time to get the shots I want? Will I ever put the time in that is necessary for excellence? How can I squeeze in more time now to get the shots that are “good enough?” Like most things we enjoy, there’s never enough time to dedicate to our artistic pursuits.
The subject of time is of particular interest when our family can carve out enough of it for a little getaway. Each of us in our party of five can be so busy on a daily basis. It’s not that often we can all be together as a unit to experience something new collectively. Vacations can be a blur of activities and expectations that leave precious few moments for us to bond as a family let alone find a spare moment to experience something individually.
The past few years we’ve started a new family tradition of visiting a new place (for the kids at least) over Labor Day weekend. It’s been an enjoyable three-day sprint to jam as many experiences, meals, and togetherness in before the craziness of Fall descends. Last year we gave the boys a whirlwind tour of their birth state, Connecticut. This year, we went west (Well, Pennsylvania west anyway) to Pittsburgh.
So where does meaningful photography and the time to accomplish it fit into all of this? Going someplace unfamiliar is always exciting for the photographer in me. In particular, if my vision has been flagging, a new locale can be a sure-fire way to spark my creativity. But because most of my trips revolve around my family, I’ve learned to temper my expectations towards time dedicated to travel photography. Being a present dad and a good husband is more important than getting the right shots… or so I’m told. So what do I try to remind myself when it comes to managing my photography time on family trips?
Mostly, I try to remember that perfect is the enemy of good. The photographer in me knew that shooting the night skyline at the top of the Duquesne Incline would be best in the blue hour not two hours later, when I actually got to shoot it. But interrupting the good times my kids were having in the hotel pool at that very moment wasn’t worth it. If I had obsessed about missing the blue hour and accepted nothing less than perfection I would have missed the shots I did end up taking, which I think turned out pretty well.
I know my time right now is best spent molding the three little men in my charge into becoming the best human beings they can possibly be, and like all parents, I fail and succeed in that mission every single day. But here’s to having faith that one day if those duties loosen up a little, there might be a few hours left over to edge slightly away from the good and move that much closer to the perfect.