We all know why we photograph milestones like weddings, graduations, and birthdays. Capturing them is essential. But they can easily overshadow the importance of documenting every day life. So I’d like to make a case for the everyday.
Everyday photos aren’t the most beautiful; most of the time they won’t follow any rules of photography. But they are the most important pictures you’ll take as a photographer, so if you aren’t already, start taking them — for your own sake.
Why? Because Life is unpredictable, and it moves fast. Nothing will stay the same: your friends will change. Your hairstyles will change. Your home will change. Your taste in beer will change. If you don’t take the time to observe and capture the beauty of right now, it’ll be gone before you realize it was there. Making the shift to documenting right now is really easy.
First, you need to get in the habit of keeping a camera with you. Take it with you to coffee shops, on walks around your neighborhood, or to wine nights with your friends. Don’t be afraid to photograph the mundane: your friend cutting his beard, or someone painting their toenails. Document study nights. Shoot laughter around the dinner table. These are the moments you’ll wish you could remember forever.
Documenting daily life isn’t about being afraid of missing a moment – it’s about realizing that someday, you’ll miss the moment you’re experiencing right now. The beauty of photography is that it captures this moment for you. So go ahead and capture your stained rug, and the chai tea rings on your counter. Be sure to freeze-frame your best friend’s new do — the one you know they’ll laugh at in five years. Record romantic flings, record long term commitment. What makes today special is unique, and made up of a mosaic of unique moments. Treasure the details in all their seeming monotony.
There’s a certain spiritual practice in this. Photographing plain moments devoid of drama or big story means you’re paying attention to them, and this quality of attention helps you live in and through these moments better. There’s a beauty in the non-spectacular that’s often overlooked; photographing the ebb and flow of your day keeps you present and awake to the majesty of life.
Majestic, yes. Glamorous, no. Or perfect. Don’t bother pretending it is. Document your life in all its honesty, excitement, disappointment, and rawness, and you’ll get way closer to the truth of things in your images than through any high-production event.
So grab your camera. Any one will do. Take a picture of your dog sleeping on the sofa. Then capture your messy room and dirty kitchen. Don’t miss the shoes left out after hiking, or your bathing suit drying in the backyard. Even if you don’t realize it now, you’ll cherish these photos for the rest of your life.
For more images from daily life — a picture a day until death, actually — click here.