Capturing Every Day Life by Jane Goodrich

Featured

capturing every day life

Jane Goodrich is a NYC-based newborn and child photographer. And a dang good one at that. She has written this guide to capturing photos of kids in every day life situations. The tag line is “the no-nonsense, cheese-free, read-while-they-nap, easy-as-pie guide to taking top-notch, world class photos of your kids.”

Yep, that about sums it up.

It’s a great first book for anyone who is interested in learning to take his/her camera off automatic mode and harness the full creative power that DSLR cameras offer. Jane shares simple definitions to complex terms and really explains the basics in an unintimidating way. She also gives practical suggestions for making the most of a photo shoot or just capturing the moment at hand.

The book is awesome. Several months ago, I started taking photography classes and often walked away more confused than I had been when I went into the class. Of course, good photography requires lots of practice. But, ahem, in order to practice, you must understand some basic concepts. Photography is all about capturing light – and you can do that several ways – via the available light, the shutter speed, the ISO, the aperture, and flash.

Did I lose you? Then pick up Jane’s book. You’ll understand the terms and will be able to apply them to taking your own great pictures. She gives the best explanation of ISO that I’ve ever heard (that’s on page 15).

Jane also has a fantastic blog where she shares lots of interesting articles and tips. You can find that here.

When I received the request to review Jane’s book, I wrote to her and told her how excited I was to read it and explained that I am a complete novice budding photographer. She wrote back and said, “if you have any questions, just let me know.”

So, I did. And she helped me understand what was happening differently when I took these two pictures and how to avoid it from happening again. As you can see, the first picture is hazy and the crab nearly gets lost. What? You didn’t see a crab – look at photo 2.

13_08_08_sunrise and pepper_EllenWeeren_0227

 Ah, there he is…13_08_08_sunrise and pepper_EllenWeeren_0324

She also gave me permission to just claim the first photograph was a result of artistic interpretation. Yes, you can see why I love her already.

Jane also has a new book out called “Where is Charlie’s Nose.” (I haven’t read this one yet, but if it’s anything like Capturing Every Day Life, it’s bound to be really good.)

where is charlie's nose

I thoroughly enjoyed Capturing Every Day Life by Jane Goodrich and highly recommend it to anyone who is intimidated by that knob at the top of his/her camera.

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen……

Featured

(There is always the chance that a any book discussion might reveal too much about an unread story – if you haven’t read the book and want to, you might want to wait to read what is written here – just in case.)

I was quite excited to find a copy of this book on the library’s “new release” shelf. You can only check it out for 14 days – no renewals. There was something energizing about having it in my hands. Yeah me.

Not to mention that Anna Quindlen is the author of five best selling novels – five. And she won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for her New York Times column. She is what we call accomplished.

And the writing in this book is good. The conversational pace makes it easy to read and the storyline makes it hard to put down. However, the entire tone of the book is sad and heavy. There are times when it is hard to breathe through the words. Even as the main character – Mary Beth – unfolds the story of her life, the tone is melancholy. Even as she tells about her family and their successes, the air is thick. Mary Beth’s family also faces some serious struggles – eating disorders, depression, and controlling boyfriends.

It seemed that her family’s successes and struggles carried the same weight and, really, were equally burdensome. Mary Beth could not seem to bask in good fortune or happiness. Every observance seemed to earn (or better, to be denied) the same level of  attention – a barely-just-scratched-the-surface level of attention. Mary Beth’s daughter stops eating for a while and loses a significant amount of weight. Mary Beth never really discloses how they discovered, dealt with, and recovered from that.

Mary Beth watches her children a lot from a distance and even says at one point that all the parents know their kids are drinking and having sex but they mostly  choose to look the other way. That was fascinating to hear and consider from her vantage point – especially because I have a teenager and two preteens. It really made me wonder what, as a parent, I will allow myself to ignore and what the consequences from that embraced ignorance will be. We learn toward the end of the story that Mary Beth carries with her quite a bit of guilt which allowed her to be inactive in many ways. In ways that cost her dearly.

The climax of this story is horrific and, I thought, unexpected. I am not sure that I would recommend reading this book because of just how awful the events in the story become. I was unbelievably sad from the climax until the end of the book with many of my own tears soiling the pages in between.

However, the storyline does make you think about the choices that you make and don’t make. About how decisions (and non-decisions) can guide us to a different future. Conversely, the story also gives us the opportunity to consider whether mental illness simply takes its own hold regardless of the circumstances. It allows us to believe that sometimes we just have no control over misfortune. Even so, toward the end of the story, Mary Beth allows herself to examine whether or not her decisions caused some of the events in the story to take place. But that is an extremely painful process and, once again, she barely scratches the surface of self evaluation.

This book also made me think about how I view my own life and family. Am I always adequately grateful for the blessings in my life? Probably not as much as I should be. And in that vein, it was worth every word and tear.