Sometimes we take a photograph because we just love the subject so much.
I smiled and slowed down as I came thru the door. I got down on my knees to get to Ben's level and pulled the camera up to my face. I know the meter would read "hot" because the back wall was out of the light stream. The wall was a gold color. I instinctively dialed in a minus 1.3 stops but that sounds a bit disingenuous as I write it. The reality is that the "dialing in" was in my brain. The camera was set in manual so the "dialing" was more an increase in shutter speed over the meter indication. I shot three or four frames and, at first, Ben was intrigued by the whole process. Then he started moving and, with the light levels being what they were, I could no longer freeze action.
The orignal frame has more on each side. There's an unmade bed to the left of the frame but the white of the sheets was too much of a lure for my eyes so I chopped it off. That left the right side unbalanced and showed too much of the white chair so I chopped that off too. Sadly, this print was made long after I gave up my black and white darkroom so I scanned it with a Nikon LS 4000 scanner and had it output on a Fujix printer. Had I still had ready access to a darkroom I would have printed it on a multigrade paper and tweaked the contrast in little areas while softening the edges. The grain would also have been more demure.
I can't really articulate why I think this is a wonderful photograph beyond the biographical reality that it is my own kid. Since he keeps getting better and better the old print somehow gets better and better to me as well. I should have the print mounted and framed and hanging somewhere nice. In reality it is tacked up just over the top of my monitor.....right next to my favorite photograph of his mother, my wife.
The prints are a reality check. What's important in life? Has technology made a difference in the quality of my work? (no.) Do I now understand a bit better why people want family portraits and photographs of THEIR kids? (absolutely.) Can I do as well with current cameras? (not to date.) The prints sit where they sit so I can compare current work against known quantities. While I might have honed my technical chops over time I understand that emotional chops are not time-linear. Everything gets created in context.
It's important to surround yourself with a work you've done that you really like. It inspires you to try and try again.