When we moved to Hawaii, we settled in a quiet, beach town called Kailua on Oahu in which I could walk from our tiny apartment a mile in any direction and have the sand and ocean on my feet or a cup of coffee and a bagel in my hand. Upon moving, we quickly became regulars at an adorable coffee shop call Morning Brew and during the week, I would often tote my laptop and photography books there, set up shop at a table by an open window adjacent from the school yard where I wasn't employing my degree, and buckle down on my new education with a cup of chai spiced determination.
On days when that brand of fuel didn't seem to cut it, I would head next door to another local joint called Book Ends. Boy, did it feed my soul.
(Side note: this was obviously before kids and when this business was more of a far-fetched dream because I apparently had time to study leisurely in coffee shops and browse book stores at will.)
Book Ends was a mess. The space was narrow and tall with paperbacks stacked from floor to ceiling on tall wooden shelves, scattered over tables in the aisles, and lining every wall. There was some general organization by genre but it hardly mattered and wasn't really worth trying to make sense of - I felt like Belle from Beauty in the Beast when I walked in Book Ends.
Normally the chaos would stress me out, but something about swimming in those books made everything else float away. Though cluttered in appearance, it was always quiet with the exception of a friendly welcome or chit-chatting cashier, and I would aimlessly stroll down its rows, pulling random covers based on their enticing titles or cover art. I never went in with an agenda and I usually left with a full heart and some completely random novel which I had no recommendation for or incentive to buy other than it somehow seemed like it could be interesting.
I think about Book Ends sometimes when I find myself holding on too tight. My husband might call that being controlling. Nevertheless, as much as we crave order and stability, sometimes embracing the chaos is ultimately more satisfying.
I think about Book Ends when I'm working with families on a shoot, too. Oh so often, one or the other parent has this ideal picture in his/her head about how the kids will behave or the shoot will unfold: everyone will smile and sit pleasantly and look directly at the camera yet it won't look fake. In other words, it will be Barnes and Noble-- shelves aligned at perfect eye level with plenty of walking space between, everything arranged in easily navigable sections with search kiosks for extra clarity, a hint of Starbucks mocha wafting through the air, a large children's nook with cushy couches and rugs to read on. Bliss, right?
But here's the thing: life doesn't happen like Barnes and Noble.
Books get thrown off those shelves and it might be hours or days before they get picked up. The kids are more likely to eat the books than they are to sit on one of those cushy couches.
So when we're out in a field photographing your family, it's okay to run around picking dandelions, or have a spontaneous tickle fight, or to just lay on a blanket looking up at shapes in the clouds. Those moments make for real, beautiful photographs. No 'cheeeeeese' included.
Sometimes it's best to just rid ourselves of that notion that perfection and order equals beauty, because it's all about how the moment, the place, the words, the photograph, make you feel. I believe in order and organization and structure, sure -- I wouldn't get by as a mother of a 10 month old running a business from home if I didn't.
But I also believe that I'd take Book Ends over Barnes and Noble any day.