The holidays are a time of family, friends, fire and celebration, but for the avid photographer the holidays also bring a sense of visual mood unlike any other time of year. Shorter days, weather, stark foliage and family members covered in layer upon layer of winter thread. These ingredients offer opportunity.
My family tends to gather in rural Texas, so blowing snow and ice aren’t standard fare, but even this semi-cold region transforms during the depths of December. When we gather I assume my role as family historian making sure to update my portraits while also capturing those moments that only occur when family is trapped inside together. But when I’m done with these routine duties I don’t put my Hasselblad away. I then begin to hunt another style of photograph.
But when I’m done with these routine duties I don’t put my Hasselblad away. I then begin to hunt another style of photograph.
Good photography provides a sense of place, mood and feel, and the images that surround the holidays are as important as the actual family photography, just as the mashed potatoes are the perfect compliment to the turkey.
I shoot most of my portraits with an old Hasselblad film camera. I love this camera because it shoots a square negative and the lenses provide a beautiful falloff, not to mention the glass is razor sharp. I also find this the perfect camera for creating holiday images with mood and feel. I know that most people think about the holidays in terms of color and light, but for me it’s all about the black and the white.
The landscape and surroundings call to me, so after the meals have been served, the presents opened and the football games finished I start to wander, Hasselblad in hand, searching for those moments of darkness and light, movement and for things that shine of the eternal. This is contemplative photography. Not for social media or for anything immediate. This imagery is about history, lineage and preserving moments for those still not yet born. These images are about the story of my family, at this moment in time as we celebrate our good fortune of being alive and being together.
So before the holidays pass once again, think about the things you might take for granted, or about the subtle and quiet places and faces that might be nice to preserve.