A Semester in the Life of My Family

October 24, 2015

Last spring, during my sophomore year, I took a black and white film photography class.

To be honest, the only reason I took it was because it is a requirement for my program. I wanted to spend my time taking a class in a medium that I wasn't acquainted with. Why was I required to take a film photography class? For many years, my camera has accompanied me nearly everywhere I go. I don't plan on doing photography full time-- and, besides, who even shoots in film anymore? Why wouldn't they allow me to take a digital class? Or one with color?!

In the end, I learned so much in that class. Film forces me to be deliberate and thoughtful with every shot, and developing my own film and making my own prints in a darkroom (hour by excruciating hour) taught me more about the mechanics of the camera (and optics in general) than I ever would be able to learn from book knowledge. Working in black and white taught me to pay attention to light. It's so easy to lose track of color value when you're focused on hue and saturation.

The worst thing about film is that sometimes the film doesn't advance and you spend half an hour with chemicals developing the strip and you unfurl it just to see that it's completely blank...

I've happily returned the old film camera to my family and still take five shots "just to be be sure I get a good one" on my digital camera, but I will never regret the training of "old-school photography!"

One of my ongoing projects for the semester was to document the crazy stuff that my family gets up to. Apparently family photography is normally too cliche for art departments, but my family is so big and eccentric that the professor told me to run with it. The hardest part? Avoiding cute, personal, and emotional portraits. It's not artsy enough.

This project was also the perfect reason to travel home to be with my family more than usual! :)

Ready for the photo dump?

(These are scans of the negatives that I inverted in Photoshop-- believe me, the physical prints are much better!)

(For some reason some of the pictures are blurry. Just click on them; the full-size images aren't.)

Fierce battles with my Lord of the Rings weaponry

It's a real thing: we have a giant whiteboard in our garage which is constantly full of interesting information. Here, my brother is playing with a 3D-printed hypercube.

The wall has everything from software notes to a lost-wax casting explanation to a Sierpinski triangle doodle to pi written as far as a cousin could remember-- and a shark claiming to know nothing about any of this.

That's just what happened to be on the board that day.

When he was five, all he asked for for Christmas was a globe. Now he knows all the states, their capitals, and most of the countries in Europe, just because it's his jam.

Our littlest superhero and her best friend in the whole wide world!

We love our unicycles, a lot. Someday these two will be ready and willing to go on the hiking trails with me!

My seven-year-old brother has perfected the art of cookies, and won't tell anyone what his magic recipe is.

Catan is pretty much our favorite pastime, ever. There are so, so many good memories of hours at that table.

Breakfast is never boring.

He loves to snuggle. With Mom, he has "Hugga Tima." I get "Hugga Time." Ben gets "Hug Timey..." Every person has their own name for snuggling.

Blanket forts with GeoTracks trains running underneath.
Modelling one of my circlets!
We've had this poster of Albert Einstein my entire life.

This is the first photo that I ever printed in a darkroom-- and probably my favorite photo... :)

No trickery here-- remember that this was taken with a film camera!

If there are only four or five people at the table, it's empty-- and we're allowed to read while we eat.

READ MORE-- there are more photos if you expand this blog post!

Throughout the semester I took many more pictures of other subjects-- I plan to blog about a few of my favorites in a couple of weeks!

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  1. Ooooh.



    This post was just... ugh, it was beautiful! Your photos are beautiful, your family is beautiful...


    I just... enjoy looking at other people's giant families so much. It makes me so happy. And you guys seem seem so crazy and awesome and insane and.... you seem a lot like my family lol.

    Also that one picture of your mom and dad, where you caught their reflection in the window (glass door?)-- Gold.

    kay. Bai.

  2. These are all so awesome, Shalynn! So many fabulous captures! The one of the hand reaching out from the blankets make me LOL, along with the pizza dough flying. I just love the composition of that one - the look on your brother's face, the flying dough, and The Last Supper. The shots of your folks are so great. Do you have plans for the whole series? They would make such a wonderful photo book or wall grouping. Congratulations on so many thousands of words declaring the joy and beauty of Family Life. Well done.

  3. Treskie----- OOOoooooh thank you so much! I love seeing the craziness of other people's families, too. And I think my family is pretty dang awesome. I'm so glad that you like the photos!

    Kimberlee-- thank you, too! I'm not sure yet what I will do with the photos, but I will probably make a photobooks (great idea). I'm getting frames for a few of the darkroom prints!

  4. Your family is amazing!! You can see joy in radiating from every picture, and so much love! Your family is the type of family I hope my children meet and become fast friends with.

    Oh, and I took a photography class in college just because I had always enjoyed taking pictures. Well, I ended up dropping all my core classes and focusing on only photography and sign language for years. I miss spending all day Saturday in the darkroom. I keep telling my husband I want to go back to film photography, but he keeps telling me it's too expensive. Ah well, one day.

    BTW, I found your blog only because I follow you on Pinterest. You are a fascinating person!


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