Friday, October 3, 2008

The Big Picture

The old school pictures. Whooda thunk that one day, my fluorescent-pink-sweatshirt-and-purple-feather-earring-wearing self would produce her very own subject for funny school pics? No one in my seventh grade class, that's for sure.
Firstborn is in kindergarten. It's been a harrowing first month for me. On the first morning, before having to put him on the bus (and subsequently following it to school to make sure the centre of my universe arrived unharmed), I spent the morning bawling like an idiot. The end of an era, the beginning of the end of stay-at-home motherhood. I do, of course, have a couple more years here with Rosemary's Baby, and I'll make the most of that time, but waving bye-bye as Firstborn happily trotted off to his classroom that first day was devastating.
But with the inevitable chore that is school comes some fun stuff too. A few days ago, he hopped off the bus and handed me his backpack, protruding from which was an envelope. An unmistakeably glossy envelope. School pictures were in! With great anticipation, I ripped open the envelope and pulled out the proofs to discover...two of the funniest faces my already pretty weird kid has ever made. My first instinct was to look for the retake date, but after a few minutes of staring at what I now refer to as "frog-face" and "this is the closest you're getting to a smile, so snap the damn picture already", I realized that these photos were the essence of my child, facial expressions that represent exactly the things about him that I love and cherish. So I yanked out the chequebook and put in my order. Now, I'm just DYING to be a fly on the wall when the Captain's uptight, judgemental and ultimately childless stepmother opens up the Christmas card to see her first set of class pictures. Heh heh.
Before foraying into the exhausting, challenging and ultimately rewarding world of public education, I had other aspirations. First it was to be a "writer". As I worked towards my English degree, and met a whole lot of people who pretentiously quoted Proust and aspired to the same dream I did, it became clear that I needed to focus my goal a little. One does not just step out into the world at the age of 21 and write the Great Canadian Novel. So, after finishing my degree, I enrolled in a print journalism program. This was not entirely a mistake because this is where I met the Captain, and I'll save that story for another day. But minutes into my studies, it became obvious that I do not, in any way, possess what's known as the "journalistic instinct". But I've had kind of a side hobby since I received my first little camera as a gift at the age of nine, which was also covered in this program, and it is photography. I started studying this area heavily, going so far as to set up my very own darkroom in my bathroom (this was a time just before the explosion of the awesomely-convenient and much less messy digital camera). And after graduation, I set out to make photography my career.
I lasted 8 months.
To keep it brief, working for a large portrait studio chain that housed itself inside a large department store chain (no names mentioned) was what I fully expect hell to be like when I inevitably show up there. The objective in a place like that is not to create interesting, beautiful, thought-provoking photography. It's to make money by telling people to say "cheese", then threatening parents that their kids' portraits will go through a shredder if they don't fork out a couple hundred bucks and buy them. I was not a photographer. I was a corporate shill (and that's the nice way to put it), and it made me feel so yucky that, after my escape, I used nothing more than a point-and-shoot to take shots of important events, pets and kids for the next 12 years.
Until this past August. The Captain, in his infinite wisdom, proved to me once again that jumping into his pool of insanity was the best decision I ever made. He bought me a digital SLR camera. My love of finding cool stuff to capture in still was instantly reborn, and I've since felt a resurgence of creativity that I figured was long gone. Blogging, incidentally, came shortly after, and I credit the Captain for this as well.
So, today you might drive by our armed compound and see me out front finding compelling things to snap, or following the kids while they play, in the hopes of capturing a few moments in time for posterity. Feel free to slow down, lean out the window and make a funny face at me.
Just don't say "cheese".

No comments: