Believe it or not, the photo that I took at Franklin Lake, in Eagle River, Wisconsin (several years ago) was a candid shot. I just snuck up behind the fam at the lake's edge and snapped it. It's one of my all-time favorites.
After I saw how awesome this photo turned out, I got it in my head that I should set up the same pose each year after and take a photo so that, in the end, I would have a fantastic treasure. Since then, every year that we go camping, the family moans and groans a little but humors me, and we try to recapture the moment. I don't have copies of the handful of attempts since the original, and the reason is that they've all fallen short of what I was going for. I've never been able to get it "just right." Still, I persevere.
When we went camping last weekend, I was very excited about once again trying to capture the shot. As the family prepared to walk down to the lake at just the right time (not too light out, not too dark), Kyle calmly asked, "Mom, why are you so obsessed with getting that picture? It's not like we need it."
And that's all it took to click for me; we do not need that photo. It has no bearing on how much fun we have, the quality of our memories, or anything else. We've camped at Franklin Lake many times and have piles of memories to show for it: boating out to "our" island, the horrific storm we weathered one year, fun at the beach, the friends we've made (some we still have), etc. and I have very few photo to show for it. Photo memories are nice, but my children do not need photos to remember why they've loved our camping trips. Heck, I've never even printed that photo out and put it in a frame. How important can it be if I haven't even done that?
So yeah, I'm going to print that photo and frame it, and then I'm going to let it go; file it, if you will, because the photo is simply a symbol, a symbol of the love and togetherness we've shared as a family. Nothing can ever take that away; it need not be "captured" or repeated just-so. There will be plenty of other symbols. For example, this one.
[click the photo for the story behind it]
So, when we got down to the lake, I let them pose however they wanted, and I took a couple of shots. Then, we went up, set up our sleeping bags in the tent, and spent the rest of the weekend talking, laughing, roasting marshmallows...and making new memories.