I have a thing about taking pictures. A lot of pictures. It started the first year I joined our unit, the 12th Ottawa Guiding group. First, I used photos to make personalized enrollment certificates. And then, collages of the photos made really nice thank you cards. By the end of that year, I had so many great photos I just HAD to do a retrospective slideshow. Why keep them all to myself, and what better way to celebrate our year and the girls? Well, that year, it was pretty easy. We had about 25 members in three branches. Six years later, we are 80 youth and 20 leaders in all branches, and even though it’s not so easy, I am still doing the slideshow.
This year, I trolled through over 2,000 pictures. I’ve learned to sort and label them as they come in. And I’m diligent about image releases – we check before showing photos at our internal events and make sure that any member who is a “no” is not in an image that leaves our unit.
Quite aside from the technical and organization tricks I’ve picked up along the way, seeing that many photos of our members has taught me so much:
- When the girls take the pictures, they get the most candid (and goofy, so the best!) pictures. They are at their most natural with each other.
- Tracking who is in the photos, and who they are posing with has given us clues about who is being left out and how friendships are changing.
- Using the cameras and sorting photos has been an awesome way for me to get to know all the members in our big group by name.
- There are definitely patterns in what the different branches like to do, and what we take photos of. Food. Dressing up. Being outside. Animals. Getting messy. Year over year, from Sparks to Rangers, these things seem to show the most delight in the girls’ and Guiders’ faces.
- I am mushy and nostalgic.Being a multi branch unit, I have the photo evidence of kids changing from small, shy seven-year olds, to bold, capable young women – it’s pretty amazing. I see the baby-tooth smiles, the missing tooth smiles and the braces-filled smiles.
I feel like the sum total of those smiles and things we catch in the photos really is a window into the spirit of Guiding and the spirits of the girls. Maybe that’s why I will probably keep taking those pictures and making that slideshow – whether it’s 200 or 2,000 pictures.
Guest post by Kathryn Lyons, with the 12th Ottawa Guiding Group, Sandy Hill, Ottawa. Check out her previous posts: Big ‘mistakes’ make good memories; Small actions for inclusion; Managing Friend Drama; Sustainable crafting: Or, what can we do with all of that leftover fleece?; How do you organize all your Guiding stuff?