High School – Roll 5

Blog, Photography / Thursday, January 25th, 2024

There are two groupings of photos in this roll of film. One grouping was the official assignment from my class and one grouping was a side project. The school assignment was “long exposures” and I’m happy with exactly one of the photos. And by happy, I mean I’m ignoring the muddiness of the photos so I can be happy with how they came out. Let me know which one you think it is.

More importantly is the second grouping, and that was the side project my mom asked of me. For as long as I can remember, my dad has had a framed photo of my mom on the side of his bed. Up until I was in high school, it was a head shot from either when they first started dating or when they were first married. While I was in the photography class, they were a little over 20 years into their marriage. My mom thought it was time for a refresher.

To be entirely honest, I didn’t know anything about what I was doing and I think it shows in the photos. A lot of what I think works well is because I was taking photos of my mom and I could communicate with her better than I would with most models. But looking at the photos, and some from later rolls (I am pretty sure I wasn’t diligent about my negative organization because the ones from the later roll appear to be the same sitting), there are a lot of technical aspects of portraiture and photography that I got horribly wrong while taking these.

For example, the photo with the massive sunburst is clearly backlit by the sun and that caused the sunburst as well as my mom to be washed out. Its a shame, because I do think I see a decent photo in there.

Another example are the photos of my mom sitting on the bench. I see great photos in there. However, they’re really unusable for what she was going for. If I had to guess, I bet I thought the shadows on her face would help the photo by making my mom squint less from the sunlight. Oh how I was wrong.

All of that criticism of 17-year-old me aside, the one photo that absolutely came out well I believe is the photo that my mom ended up choosing. The top-down photo with the calm lake behind her, to me, is a technically beautiful photo that really captures my mom at that moment in time. Starting with the lake, the background is simple and frames the subject perfectly. The rocks in the foreground give my mom a place to place a hand as well as define the different levels of the photo. Finally, the sun may be causing her to squint but she nailed the smile in the photo that to me it appears she is more smiling with her whole face.

All that is to say, I really like this concept of husbands and wives having photos of their spouse on their bedside. I feel like when we go to estate sales I tend to see these kinds of photos. Men in suits. Women in dresses. Sometimes they’re kept up to date and sometimes they’re from years long gone. Either way, I think I’m going to sneak one on Ellie’s nightstand and see when she notices. Ellie, if you’re reading this, you’ll need to get one for my side of the bed too.

Mom, it’s been almost twenty years since these photos were taken. Let me know if you want to update it at all. I promise I will try better this time.

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