Hannah and I wake up early to start the shoot. We eat breakfast together, scrambled eggs, dusted with garlic, pepper and sea salt, mixed with sauteed onions and sprinkled with strings of cheddar cheese. We split an avocado. “These things really are happy food,” she states. I mention something about them literally effecting your mind. I can’t remember the details, but I think they stimulate your neurotransmitters. We pray and eat, and it is good.
We’re shooting in my parent’s kitchen, and there isn’t a huge amount of real light that comes in on the dark-stained wood counters, so we grab an old table, prop open the back door, and wedge it into place in a large shaft of defused sunlight. We’ve decided to tackle three recipes today, and we pretty much ban everyone else from using the door until we’re done. It’s going to take all day.
Unless you’ve worked in photography for a number of years, you don’t have any idea how much work goes into one shot. Look at the crepe cake, or the banana ice cream recipe– each photo in those articles took well over an hour to prepare. The crepe cake took the better part of five hours to make, style and finally grab a few good shots, not to mention the post processing that goes into every picture.
Mid-afternoon, we’ve been shooting Jam all day long. We realize that we’re missing ingredients and Hannah is about to melt. We somehow pull ourselves together, bundle into the car, and drive down the road to a fruit and vegetable stand. Plum jam goes in the book, because cherries are out of season, and we can’t find them anywhere. Somehow Taylor Swift ends up on the radio and we blast the song as loud as we can just to get a little energy flowing. “Trouble, trouble, trouble!” We’re laughing, because we’re both not Taylor fans, but we’re exhausted and it’s only 2 p.m. We don’t just take pictures because it’s on the schedule-for us, it’s a way to preserve life. It’s our way of capturing all those years that we had in the kitchen with our parents.
Here’s the schedule: cook the food, style the food, shoot the food, clean up after ourselves and then get ready to cull the photos, print the photos, cull the photos again, and finally fall into our own beds for a well-deserved sleep. This is hard work and there are some things that taste amazing, but don’t look half-way appetizing on camera. We want to be honest, and let you know that we aren’t perfect. Part of being authentic, is being imperfect. Part of being genuine, is showing we aren’t a standard.
There isn’t any standard. Recognizing this is so important to how you view yourself and your creative work. If you take a picture, and it doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen on Pinterest or on one of those fancy food blogs that you love to visit, don’t be surprised. Photographers take pictures of the best food. We take pictures of the best sides of the best food. We scatter crumbs on the table, and then in post, we edit them out. We do this in an effort to present the most beautiful rendition of what we see, the most perfectly remembered piece of cake.
Every picture you see has been modified to some extent, to present reality in the best possible light. In truth, this creates a sub-reality, one that isn’t even possible to achieve. There isn’t anything wrong with this new created reality, but it easily breeds discontent and frustration with true reality. Hundreds of boards across Pinterest make this point exceeding clear: You’re missing something. You’re missing the perfect moment, the perfect coloring. Feel that longing? It will be satisfied if you just. do. more. Subtle lies are spoken and we believe.
But there is truth: None of us are perfect. We just aren’t. We aren’t a standard. We don’t deserve to be held up as a banner for the work that we do. We’re imperfect people in a broken world, drawn to perfection for one reason: to point us to the perfection of the Son. We strive to create perfection in a subconscious effort towards something greater than what we have.
Hannah and I put away the cameras, and do another load of dishes. Our best memories are made cooking in the kitchen together without trying to create a masterpiece, and as we roast asparagus together, kiss in the kitchen, and rub each-others sore backs, we find that imperfect-perfection: being simply satisfied in what He has given us.