Out of Focus

I take a lot of pictures. Not like, professional pictures with an actual camera, but pictures on my iPhone. I take pictures of my friends, our dogs, artwork, and lots of sunsets. I recently deleted over 5,000 pictures off my phone, and a good majority of those were pictures of the sky (not much of a surprise, for those who know me).

Deleting 5,000 pictures was hard for me, because I want to save them, to remind me of times, places, and people. Going through them really made me think. Think about little things, like what color my nails where on my 16th birthday, what flavor ice cream I got after a baseball game, how my hair looked for my best friend’s party, things like that.

But some of the pictures were easy to delete, for two main reasons. One, I didn’t want to think of a certain memory anymore, and had no trouble pressing the trash icon. Another reason is that, the picture didn’t turn out. Someone could have had a finger over the camera, which doesn’t happen much anymore, unless the photographer is over 50 and doesn’t know how to work an iPhone. I had a few of those pictures to get rid of.

Another tip to getting the perfect picture is good lighting. Most girls in this day and age know what “good lighting” is. We always try to find an area where the sun shines directly to avoid weird shadows, or places where the lights are bright. Boys are nothing like this, and continue to laugh at us for being so peculiar about our pictures.

As I was deleting picture after picture, and noticing small details of my life over the last few years, I got to thinking about how sometimes, I don’t need all these snapshots to enjoy memories. Sure, they help capture the moment, but there are certain things in life that can’t be captured.

For example, the Fourth of July. The smell of lit fireworks, and barbecued ribs. The sight of my baby cousin, with blue popsicle dripping down his shirt. The feel of heavy, sticky air on my skin, a warm breeze that surrounds us with light smoke. I was preoccupied trying to get a picture of my friend and I with our matching American flag shirts during this moment. I almost missed these details that can’t be trapped in a camera. Looking back, I didn’t take the time to appreciate the atmosphere.

As I continue to “grow up” and “mature”, I realize that sometimes memories are recollected by capturing the atmosphere, not the moment on a camera. We try so hard to make everything picture-perfect. But that’s not how it’s supposed to be. Life doesn’t always give you good lighting. You have to keep focusing on the important parts, and sometimes that means change. Changing the perspective, changing the location, changing who is significant enough to keep in the picture.

When life gets out of focus, remember that in the end, the big picture won’t always turn out perfect. But no matter what, it’s going to be beautiful, because you’re the photographer. You’re in charge of your picture, make it a good one.

-Maddie

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