Photos and reality


I’ve been thinking a lot about photos and life. Sometimes a photograph can be more beautiful than the reality (hello, photoshop!)  Sometimes a photograph can fail to capture the magnificence of reality (e.g., vacation photos of the grand canyon.)

I spend a lot of time trying to make beautiful photos. It gives me pleasure, it’s a creative outlet, an escape.

This past weekend in my household was difficult. We are all (except for my 5 year old) stretched too thin with too many commitments, obligations, and interests. There were times when the chaos, the comings and goings, the desires and tensions of a family of six were a lot to handle.


And there were times when I sat editing the photos of an orchid that recently began reblooming. As I cropped, enhanced sharpness, fixed the color, beautified these photographs, I thought of some of the less than beautiful moments I’d experienced in my own house in the past few hours – children hitting one another, panicked searches for lost gloves and more than one imperious “leave me alone!” I thought about the contrast between the noisy reality going on in my life and the serene calmness in the photos I was trying to create.

By working to beautify my photos, am I trying to ‘fake’ my life into something its not? Am I trying to pretend I have a more perfect life? That is certainly not my intent, yet, I hear time and again “pinterest makes me feel guilty” or too much time on facebook, looking at photos of other people finishing triathalons, celebrating with friends, and posing with their beautiful families, makes people feel depressed.

I don’t post ‘real’ and gritty photos because that’s not what I want to see when I go online and because, well, it just seems like that would be boring. Maybe that’s why other people tend to post their photos of happy moments too. Who wants to celebrate, share, dwell on the negative?

I was intrigued recently, when I came across this post, Reality Reframed, by Tracey Clark. I particularly like the way she shows the relationship between a snapshot of real life and a selective, edited, artistic photo. I like the idea of trying to find the beauty in everyday life. I like the idea that the act of making something, even a simple edited photograph, is an escape, antidote, a salve against the chaos and ugliness that can be real life.

So, here is my reality: I found my orchid reblooming here, next to the box of temporarily abandoned art projects, the rosemary standard I forgot to give to my sister, a green plastic spray bottle.

6 thoughts on “Photos and reality

  1. Thank you very much for sharing Reality Reframed – I love it and it’s much more appealing than “Reality Enhanced” both as an artistic approach and a life philosophy. Having the two images side by side is a great reminder that you can find beauty (or happiness) in those small things which are part of the bigger picture. When my children spend the day hitting each other I will try to also remember the five minutes they spent curled up next to each other on the sofa!


    1. Glad you liked Reality Reframed, Catherine – I thought it eas really interesting. And yes, I try to remember those good times, when they are keeped each other happy and helping each other, and hoping those times outweigh (and outnumber) the squabbles!


  2. I love this, Zibby. I wonder about these same questions myself, and am sometimes accused of the presenting-only-the-positive stuff. But I agree with you that I think there’s huge value in looking for the beautiful amidst all the chaos, the spray bottles and yelling, the things we forgot and the things we misplaced. xox


  3. It seems to me that being able to see the beauty in the ordinary or the chaos is a gift and nothing to apologise for. And what a fantastic thing digital photography is to make so much more imagery accessible – using the technology to make something even more beautiful is fine with me.

    As for the ‘our perfect family’ bloggers – I can’t take them too seriously, sure if that’s their preferred art form, it doesn’t worry me, but I’ve been to enough commercial photo-shoots to know what the background actually looks like and authentic family life rarely comes rose-tinted and blurred at the edges.(Well ours doesn’t and I wouldn’t want it any other way).


    1. Ah, you got me, Anny, I didn’t even realize it until I read your comment. I am wary of appearing to be one of those ‘our perfect family’ bloggers and feeling a little bit guilty for posting only pretty photos. But you’re right! trying to find the beauty in everyday life is nothing to apologize for.


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