I think I’ve always been drawn to the details. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are littered with details. Once my sister and childhood best friend and I spent a great portion of an afternoon trying to save butterflies we accidentally ran over with a rusted red Radio Flyer wagon. Monarch butterflies, to be exact. Now they happen to be my favorite butterfly and I’m constantly pointing them out to my kids when I spot them.
And I’m fairly certain I’ve always been a sentimentalilst. It’s hard for me to part with things that have meaning. As a child I had a drawer full of junk that was special to me. I recently had to clean out that drawer because we were bringing the vanity home from my dad’s house for my daughter to use. As I sat for a while sorting through these souvenirs from my childhood, I was struck with such a strong feeling of nostalgia. I laughed and cringed and told stories about the objects. Most of it was tossed, but some made its way back home with me.
When you’re a sentimentalist with an eye for detail, photography becomes a game of “I Spy.” I spy my daughter wearing the same pink princess dress my middle son wore day in and day out as a toddler. Click. I spy long, flowing hair that once was a baby rat tail. Click. I spy my daughter sitting at the same vanity I did as a child that was passed down to me from my grandma. Click. I spy my son gripping the ragged puppies he’s carried around for a decade in the same way he did as a toddler. Click.
Photographing details is as natural to me as landscapes are to others. When people first started mentioning my eye for detail, I was a little confused at first. I hadn’t even realized I gravitated toward details in my photography. Then I started paying attention. I noticed a pattern. I was a bit obsessed with documenting all the little details of our lives.
It isn’t just the closeup details—although I take plenty of photos of my daughter’s hair—but it is also the storytelling details that say so much in a single image.
This is why I’m drawn to documentary photography. I like seeing our days laid out in a photo. My daughter procrastinating as she’s supposed to be cleaning her messy room. My kids sitting at the kitchen table doing homework and all the other various projects and activities that occur there. I like looking at a photo and remembering the moment.
Sometimes I get caught up in all the pretty images on Instagram and measure mine against theirs. My style isn’t always on trend. My editing isn’t extravagant. My reach and engagement are minimal. But then I look back through my gallery and I’m hit with all the feelings. My feed is a literal scrapbook of our lives; and that makes me happy. I’m not curating an art gallery but collecting memories. And for a sentimentalist like me, that’s a pretty good achievement.
I created a course for the Hello Storyteller Academy all about documenting life’s details. It’s called Minutiae: Documenting Life’s Subtle Details. If you’re a sentimentalist like me, then you’re probably already on your journey to capturing these moments; this is the perfect course for you. Come along with me as I dive deep into the world of details!
It is currently being offered as a Download and Go course, where you work through the materials at your own pace. There are mini exercises and a final assignment to encourage you to apply the information you are learning.
All November you can save $10 on my course. Use the discount code DETAILS10 at checkout.
Remember, life happens fast. The moments speed by, one after another, until your baby morphs into a teenager and all you have left as evidence of those years are blurry memories and the millions of photos you snapped in a desire to document your story. You’ll never regret freezing these fleeting moments.
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