Thanksgiving Point Gardens Outing
I'm not sure why, but I've decided to keep a better journal, and to carry my camera around taking lots of pictures. For one, taking pictures is a lot of fun. But also, I sense that my kids are growing up, cementing their sense of identity, and soon they will be going off to high school, and then college, and then they will be gone. I guess I am trying to capture and preserve these moments.
Tonight we went to Thanksgiving Point Gardens. We have a family pass, so we go about a dozen times a year. When we first got the pass, I found the gardens somewhat boring. After all, they're just flowers, right? But tonight the flowers seemed so much more interesting, and I'm not entirely sure why.
Part of it is that I'm taking pictures of flowers. Taking pictures heightens my interest in the visual world around me.
And in taking pictures, I'm starting to think about what makes a good photo.
One principle of good photography is contrast. Contrast in light, contrast in color, contrast in mood.
Contrast is also important in writing and for life in general -- mixing up tasks at work, giving variety to foods at dinner, variety to activities during the week, and so on.
When I started to look at the flower arrangements, it's partly the contrast that gives the arrangements appeal. Stick some small white flowers next to large green funneling ones, and suddenly it looks interesting because of the contrast. Or stick a wild flower in the middle of calm ones, and it jumps out more.
Another principle of photography is light. A cloudy day is perfect because it gives soft shadows to everything.
Photos that capture an emotion are also appealing. If everyone looks straight at the camera and smiles, it's somewhat boring.
Candid shots are the best, but it's sometimes hard to get people to ignore you as a photographer.
But there's perhaps a downside to photography-- if you're taking pictures, you're somewhat removed from the moment itself.
Which is why it's good to pass the camera around and let others take photos too. Avery and the kids love taking pictures -- they'll take pictures of pretty much anything.
I am not sure where I'll be in 10 years. Hopefully right where I am now, but with an even stronger, more tightly knit family.
I once read that happiness comes in learning to live in the moment and enjoy it.
I find that to certainly be true. If you live in the moment, you have to sometimes forego goals and other to-do's in order to pursue what's hot or interesting at the moment.
The thing about photos is how nostalgic they makes me towards everything. It seems like this day was everything, and now it has slipped into the past.
One day I'll slip into the past too. I am happy and alive now, but one day I will only be a memory, or a marker in a graveyard. When that day comes, I will think about all the time I spent and wonder why I didn't spend more time at places like these with my family.
The theme of this post is carpe diem, I guess. Is it the influence of the flowers?
I'm not sure where this sentiment is coming from. It seems to be somewhat productive, though, to think on a regular basis about a day in the future when you will be dead, and then to think about the life you are living now.
What will have made it worth it? What are the activities that make everything come full circle into one continuous meaningful whole?
The answer, I think, is perhaps just as much in the family as it is in learning to see flowers.
About Tom Johnson
I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.