I am a photographer……….of sorts. I would like to think that I take good pictures but in reality, I am an amateur. I love looking at the photos of the pros. They are mesmerizing and amazing.
When I was a kid, I would borrow my mom’s camera for field trips and so on until I got my first camera. A polaroid. Yep, it was a beaut! A picture before my eyes in less than 30 seconds. Only problem~ the films were over $10 for 10 pictures. And that was the early 80’s. Then I got myself one of those little 110 cameras. I loved how compact it was but honestly, the pictures were terrible. I have entire films where everyone’s heads are cut off.
Here we are in 2011. Everyone these days seems to have a digital camera. Gone are the days of taking your film somewhere to be developed~ waiting a week or more…or sometimes only an hour for the development.
So now, instead of 100, 200, 400 or even the prized 800 exposure films, we measure the quality in pixels. Those little tiny squares that show up on very poor quality pictures when you try to enlarge a photo from the internet. My camera is amazing~ I can enlarge to a massive size without seeing the pixels and my photos are oh so clear.
But there’s one thing a photo can’t tell you. It can’t tell you what’s going on behind the scenes. For the most part, photographs are one or two dimensional at best. You might see the beautiful baby, but you don’t see the frazzled mother in the background. You may look at a photo of a dog sleeping, but you don’t see the cat ready to pounce on the unsuspecting canine. People smile. They say “cheese” . They do their hair and make-up and hold their heads high. Once the photos are over, the wife gives the husband the cold shoulder and walks away in a huff carrying the same grudge she brought into the photo session.
This past Monday, my girls had their skating photos. It was mayhem. Curling irons, flat irons, hairspray, brushes, make-up, costumes, dresses….a furious amount of activity in one small dressing room at the arena. 25 girls all getting ready at the same time. Mothers looking ticked. Coaches being bullies. Little girls with tears as their hair was pulled and teased. But get them all in front of the camera and there were glowing smiles, pride-filled postures and elegant costumes.
I was particularly annoyed. I’m paying a LOT of money for my girls to skate this year. There are 4 coaches and yet, not a lot of skill building. This club seems very focused on looks and not so focused on the fine-tuned techniques required to make it in this sport. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the skating photos to document a well-earned season. But I was a bit perplexed watching all the hype surrounding this photo shoot. There were girls in the photos looking radiant and utterly professional who rarely show up on time or regularly for their skating lessons. They looked amazing and I will tell you this~ the photos will be stunning. But behind the photos of this seemingly synchronized club, the parents know the true reality. Their daughters are not excelling . The photos with dozens of medals from a regional competition don’t tell the true story. Some medals were honorably earned and others were freebies. Nowadays it is more “fun” for each girl to walk away from a competition with something rather than leave empty handed. But I don’t want my girls getting awarded for poor performance or a bad work ethic. I want them to see the value in working hard and sometimes not getting rewarded and then working harder and seeing the payoff. My friend , Carl, wrote about this very thing in his recent blog about success and education. Worth the read.
I love watching my girls skate. They are each different in their approach. Lauryn is the casual, fair-weather skater. She takes a year off every once in a while because it’s not exciting enough for her. She does her lessons and then fiddles away along the boards for the rest of the class. She has some great moves but lacks motivation.
Emily has really grown this year. She has found it hard in previous years to meet the coach’s expectations but has really applied herself this year and diligently works on different aspects until she nails down the moves. She is finding fulfillment in giving herself small goals and reaching them. Because of her long legs she is beginning to show signs of a very smooth and graceful skater.
Leslie is the powerhouse in the family. Her legs are muscular and strong. She is leaping through the air and landing some of the more difficult jumps. When she skates, everyone clears back because she commands an audience and the entire ice. She is highly motivated and works harder than any other skater on the ice. Her goal is to get into an inner-city club and possibly make the amateur or even professional circuit eventually.
As I follow my girls’ progression I’m finding that none of them worry about what anyone else is doing. This can be good and bad. For example, Lauryn could learn from watching the work habits of the older skaters but she doesn’t really care and it’s not important to her. In her own way, I guess that’s fine~ she’s enjoying what she is learning and not looking too far ahead. Leslie on the other hand, is spurred on by what everyone else isn’t doing. She wants to be the top skater in the club and she wants to be the first to successfully land a double axle. But she isn’t overly concerned with what anyone else is doing. She doesn’t try to mimic the moves of the other skaters~ she prefers to craft her own style.
I’m hoping that whatever my girls choose to do, they will do it with honesty and integrity. Not worried so much how they look in the photos but more concerned with what got them into the photos in the first place. We would all do well to check ourselves and our attitudes before we pose next time. There’s no point in being in the company golf tournament photo if we’re not going to pick up a club to play. (And where did I just get a golf analogy from when I’m talking about skating?? I have no idea!! )