Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Bedside Reading: Sharing Your Life through Photos

Holidays typically mean spending time with family and friends. And where there's a gathering, there's at least one camera (or smartphone with camera). Now what do you do with all those photos? Two books give me ideas for turning images into stories.
Modern Journaling
Nowadays everyone can be a photographer; but whether or not the images stand the test of time depends on the photographer's vision. With How to Photograph Your Life: Capturing Everyday Moments with Your Camera and Your Heart you'll soon have images that convey emotion and tell a story today and in the years to come.
Kelsh takes common events (or subjects) and shows how not to photograph them (i.e. the hoohum boring image that many snap quickly) versus how to photograph them. Some of the keys to interesting photos he shares are not putting the horizon in the middle of every image, changing up the angle at which you're taking the image (for example, from the ground instead of eye level), and more.
Even if you've had a camera in your hands since you were twelve like me this book is one you should read. It got me thinking about chronicling my life in journals similar to what I'd done for yearbook in high school. The resulting photo books are much more interesting than page after page of technically correct, postcard images.
How to Photograph Your Vacation
The second book, Graphic Design Cookbook: Mix & Match Recipes for Faster, Better Layouts, helps me organize all the photos I take. (If you follow me on Instagram, you know I take a lot of photos of the food we eat, of Gates, and more.)
When I went to Costa Rica for winter holiday in 2004 (the longest vacation I've ever taken - fourteen days), I brought with me a digital camera and took over 500 photos. From these photos, I chose about 150 and created a 60-page journal. The Graphic Design Cookbook gave me ideas about how to layout the two page spreads so that the book was visually interesting. (At the time I was creating the journal, Sony (now closed), Snapfish, Shutterfly, and Kodak (now closed) had limited layout capabilities. And, Blurb wasn't yet around.) The resulting coffee table book describes how coffee is harvested, roasted, and prepared for sale. It showcases beautiful volcanoes and local flora. It also includes a sprinkling of traditional posed shots (taken by strangers to prove I was actually there) and some action shots of me on a rope swing (again taken by strangers and a little blurry) that show the emotion of me about to swing out across a ravine like Tarzan (remember that I'm a little afraid of heights).
Page Layout Ideas
How do you photograph your life?
Happy Fourth of July!
Credits: All images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life. Bedside Reading is a monthly series, published the first week of each month (Monday for family-related picks, Tuesday for fashion, Wednesday for home, Thursday for food, and Friday for design), featuring books, magazines, or blogs that I enjoy.