What lenses do you use to examine your experiences? Another way to ask this is, how do you frame your experiences?
When I used to prepare for media interviews people always advised me to frame the issue myself, not let reporters do it for me. As in, this isn’t a story about an employee stealing from the lunch till; rather, it is about swift administrative action in response to a crime. Yeah, right.
Wikipedia defines “framing” as “how individuals, groups, and societies organize, perceive, and communicate about reality.”
I thought about framing after a friend suggested I download an app to my phone called Photo 365. “You take a picture a day for a year,” she said. I forgot to ask her what you did with them at the end of a year. Didn’t matter. I like photography but have limited time to pursue it, so the idea of one photo a day sounded enticing. It wouldn’t involve a big investment in time, but would guarantee I’d be alert for photo opps wherever I went.
“What pictures have you taken so far?” I asked my friend.
“None. I’m not sure what theme to choose.”
The idea of a theme made the project even more appealing. A year’s worth of photos stitched together with one overarching thread. ‘Seasons’ would be a nice theme, I thought, but in the dead of winter I’m not likely to go on a daily hunt for yet another picture of decaying leaves or a rainstorm.
I finally chose “people,” broad but more likely to keep me going for a year than ‘selfies’ or ‘meals I have prepared or eaten out,” the current rage in Facebook.
I took my first picture last week. My subject was Eleanor, who at ninety-three is the oldest among my writers’ critique group friends. I snapped her while she was making pizzas using a recipe that reminded her of her Italian roots. The next day I photographed a woman working on a church cleanup party. She was emptying out a fridge.
So had I accidentally adopted a stereotype for my theme? Women cooking and cleaning? I’ll know better in a year. If I show anyone else my pictures they’ll create their own frame, so mine won’t matter. And speaking of frames, photo 365 allows you to choose frames for each of your photos. If nothing else, this project will remind me where I’ve been between now and April 9, 2015. I ask myself at the end of each year, Where did it go? This year, with my photos I should be able to answer.