I've got the second part of So This is Scrapbooking for you today; and I'm delighted that Ruth has agreed to tell us her story. At the beginning, when I was thinking about the whole thing, planning a series which would cheer on the hobby we all love, I made a list of the kind of stories I wanted. I hoped some of you would come forward - and you have, thank you!- and I looked to see who I could ask to round out our scrapbooking saga. I'm so glad Ruth accepted an invitation to tell us about her photos and here she is..
When Sian emailed me asking me to consider taking part in her new So This is Scrapbooking feature she was planning for her blog, I was taken aback. I was taken aback becasue she wanted me to talk about my photography skills..
I hadn't realised I had any photography skills particularly. But then I thought about it and thought about it some more. Maybe Sian was on to something after all.
Scrapbooking and particiapting in photo-a-day challenges made me want to take better photos. Photos that I want to see in my scrapbooks. Scrapbooks that I'm happy for others to look at. My skills are self-taught and have very much been a process of trial and error. Reading the camera's manual is a must, even if you read it in bite-sized chunks. The more I used the camera, the better I got. It's true that practice makes perfect. I don't understand the technicalities of how a camera works at all, but I do know that if I change the position I am in prior to taking the shot, that if I note the whereabouts of the sun and any shadows, that if I take the camera's setting of Auto now and again, that if I select continuous shooting mode when trying to photograph The Boy Child I get much better results. By looking up, looking down, using reflections, putting the camera on the floor, even lying on the floor myself, I get results that I'm proud of. I also look for the everyday and the more unusual; coffee cups feature regularly on my blog and road signs are a popular item to photograph when I am abroad.
I have PSE9 on my PC and am adding to my repertoire of what I can do. Again, it's been a process of trial and error. American scrapbookers Ali Edwards and Cathy Zielske are both extremely generous when it comes to sharing their know-how of PSE via their blogs. I don't edit many photos, as for me, editing takes away from the real image I captured.
Two surprising things have happened to me recently concerning my photography (three if you count this post for Sian). A public housing association in Adelaide, Australia, asked if they could use my photo of a homeless man sleeping in a doorway in their newsletter; and the PTA at The Boy Child's school asked me to take the photographs for the calendar they were producing.
The PTA calendar photography took place a couple of weeks ago and turned out to be an enjoyable experience.
Reception and Year One responded to direct instructions with added humour. "Everyone look at the camera. Right, after I've counted to three I want you all to shout banana! One, two, three.." It was also very sweet to be addressed by the little people as "The Boy Child's Mummy". The PTA had authoristaion to photograph all the pupils bar one, a boy who happens to be in The Boy Child's class. I couldn't bear to leave him out, so I popped him in on the end of the row, took one shot and then sent him off on a pre-arranged mission for his teacher before taking the shot that would appear on the calendar.
I quickly realised that shooting groups of older children needed a different approach. They appreciate silliness. "Come on X, budge up next to Y! He doesn't smell! and "You, the boy with all the hair, can you move to your left, please?" They got their own back by constantly calling me Ma'am.
teachers were fairly easy to get on board, as I stuck with one teacher per class; but the ladies from the offices were almost as bad as some of the children! One teacher, when she heard our explanation of what we were doing, enquired sweetly if she would need to bring bigger buns. That reference will be lost on you if you are not familiar with Calendar Girls!
I'd probably do it again for the PTA and/or school, but not for anyone else. The Deputy Bursar/Marketing manager even suggested that I become their in-house person for photography, which was very flattering, but not something I could envisage accepting now or in the near future. Not until I've learnt more about the mechanics of both camera and photography.
I'm never going to be a female version of Mario Testino or even as good as my brother (you can see his work on Facebook under RAP?Retro Air Photography), but I'm happy, mostly, with the results I achieve. And that's more than I can say for ten years ago. Click.
Ruth lives in London with her husband and the star of her blog: The Boy Child. Her captivating photos of her son pulled me in several years ago now; and I continue to be enchanted by her record of their family fun and London life. Her moving honesty about the challenges they have faced in the past year makes her blog Everyday Life of a Suburban SAHM a must-visit for me. Please, go say hello! Meet a fellow scrapbooking fan. This is Scrapbooking.