A few weeks ago, I was wandering about Venice on a sunny Sunday afternoon (the only kind in LA). I popped into Urbanic, a delicious little paper store where I often think, "I need this. ALL OF THIS." Whatever this is-- if they sell it, I want it. Washi tape. Wedding invitations. Stationary. Little bamboo forks. It's the kind of store that's so well curated, you feel like a different person inside-- the kind of person who throws intimate dinner parties and keeps appointments in a little gold leather book with colored pens (I am not that person on a day to day basis, I confess. But I want to be.). As I was about to pay for my new treasures, my eyes fell upon a stack of books close to the register: A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book , by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman. Who are they, you might ask? Well, they're the bloggers behind my new favorite bookmark, A Beautiful Mess. Sisters Elsie and Emma write about topics from fashion to crafts and everything in between, and they do so in a way that is delightfully personal. Go take a read and see what I mean-- you'll want to be their friend after the second or third post.
But back to the book-- short story long, I impulsively stuck the tome on the top of my pile to be purchased before I could let reason talk me out of it (after all, when you're living the life nomadic in your husband's bachelor apartment is hardly the time to acquire more books. But luckily, reason has never had much hold over me. Just ask Miles.). That night, I started flipping through it, and to be frank, I found myself becoming quite smitten with the whole thing. While the information on technical aspects such as lighting and composition is great, the underlying theme of the book-- recording snapshots of our everyday lives and the inherent beauty in those moments-- really resonated with me.
Two years ago, Miles and I went to an exhibit on Charles and Ray Eames at the A+D museum here in LA. Rather than focusing on their iconic designs, the exhibit instead looked at the couple's interactions with everyday objects, which were highlighted by quotations scattered throughout the exhibit. One in particular made us stop and talk:
Like 99.99% of the first world population, my iPhone spends most of its day within inches of my hand, ready to quickly capture a moment, whether its a funny sign or a beautiful sunset. Do we miss some moments by standing outside them, waiting to catch them on camera? Yes, probably so. Is there something to be said for having a record of the small moments that we might otherwise forget one day, and yet are special in spite of (or because of) their mundanity? I say yes, emphatically*. I try to take at least one photo a day. Sometimes I take more, sometimes I take none, but ultimately, the act of finding something lovely/interesting/funny/beautiful in my days (which are not always lovely/interesting/funny/beautiful) is good for my psyche. Similarly, I like seeing the photos that my friends snap of their daily lives. It makes me feel connected to them when we're on opposite sides of the country and can't connect face-to-face. So, here's to being snap-happy! Get out there and take some pictures (and share them with your friends).
*A note: Growing up, my mother always warned my sister and me to "Be particular!" in our choices. While she was usually warning me about boys (good advice to which I probably should have paid more heed, but I digress), I think it's a good mantra for most things, Instagram included. Share photos that feel special, not every single one you take. No one wants to see 95 pictures of tomato salad, no matter how heirloom-y the tomatoes in question. This would be an ideal time to be particular.
PS. A Beautiful Mess also has an iPhone app, available on the iTunes store. Clearly, I bought it. And I love it. You will too. You can do fun things like doodle on photos (you know I love a good doodle.).