Beauty that Moves

This weekend I hosted a little potluck/learn to make smudge sticks class at my house. Six of my favorite people attended, and we had a lovely time. And what did I take pictures of?

Yep. The herbs.

And I realized that whenever I am at a party, or host a party, I fail to take pictures of people. I fail to take pictures of people in general, unless someone else reminds me to do it.  I used to feel much guilt. Why, I thought, do I always photograph plants, never people? Do I like plants better than people? Am I a plant supremacist?

Well. I might be. BUT, I realized this weekend that it is not a preference for plants over people that makes me not photograph my friends and family. It’s just that, when I’m interacting with people, I have better things to do than take pictures of them. I’m engaging with my friends–and I can’t do that AND take a good picture.

Taking a photograph, for me, is an act of mental stillness and detached observation. That’s not a way I ever want to approach the people I love.

And I don’t like snapshots of people. They never capture the beauty of anyone. They show only a flattened fragment of who someone is. Many people who I find beautiful in real life look anything but beautiful in a photograph. To quote Ani DiFranco: “it took me too long to realize/that i don’t take good pictures/cuz i have the kind of beauty/that moves.”

Human beauty is a complex intersection of motion, spirit, and physical form. It takes a photographer with a special kind of gift to take a picture of a person that really captures his or her beauty.

I don’t have that gift.

I can take pictures of plants that satisfy me. But when I take a picture of a person, it never looks like what I see when I look at him or her.

So, my friends and family, I hope you all know that the lack of photos of you all has nothing to do with how much I love you. Quite the contrary–I don’t take photos of you because they can never express all that you are to me. And if I have a choice between enjoying your company, and trying to capture an image of you . . . well. I’d rather have time with you now than a picture of you later. I hope you will take that as a compliment.


7 thoughts on “Beauty that Moves

  1. Lovely picture! I understand what u mean. I don’t like to get my picture taken, but I LOVE taking pictures of my kids. They grow so fast, it’s all I can do to keep up with them. But I totally understand how interaction trumps photo taking. It just means you guys were having so much fun you forgot to take pictures of yourselves! ANd that’s a big WIN!

    Glad you had fun 😉

  2. Maybe that’s why I don’t have any pictures of my boys or friends. I keep thinking I’ll regret it someday for not having tons of pictures (think Facebook albums), but like you, the pictures I have of my friends and family don’t do them justice. Loved this post, Michelle.

  3. It’s a gorgeous photo. Very inviting, which is what you wanted all your guests to feel. I bet it was fun and everyone got to leave with a bundle or two to remember the day and they will enjoy smudging with these wonderful herbs more so than any they could have bought.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  4. Aw, Michelle, this post is LOVELY. Heart-meltingly so. What a wonderful sentiment to share with your friends and loved ones. And that picture is really gorgeous. Your creative spirit inspires me always!

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