Elevate the Everyday, Book Review

I was completely delighted to have the opportunity to review Tracey Clark’s latest book, “Elevate the Everyday” for Studio 5 today. Check out the exciting discussion this book is causing and see exactly why I like it so much! Don’t see the video below? Click HERE.

It could be said that I have a book buying problem, especially when it comes to photography books. I have read more books than I can count on everything from shutter speed to proper composition, but I must say, that I’ve never come upon a book that takes the approach that Elevate the Everyday portrays. It was a breath of fresh air to read about photography in a philosophical way that honors home life, motherhood, and finding value in your own unique story.

We live in a very visual world. We are exposed to other people’s photos everyday online, on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, and it can be very tempting to think our own lives are less than glamorous by comparison.

The thought that we each have our own unique story is what was most striking to me in this book. The idea that there is magic in our own life. 

This book brilliantly shows us how photography can be a great tool in helping us to see our own unique stories with gratitude and understanding.

With that main thought in mind, Tracey Clark details in her book both WHAT to photograph in our life as well as HOW.

What To Photograph

Three of my most favorite suggestions that Tracey suggests photographing include routines, spaces, and affections. (Though the book details several more!)

ROUTINE: Tracey points out that “The memories that we make as a family {in photos} aren’t usually found in the routines of our everyday life. They are usually found while on vacation from our everyday life. But the everyday is the foundation from which all the big and exciting memories grow.”

What a powerful thought! It’s exciting to realize that our life really is made up of those small everyday moments accumulating into something great. Taking the time to photograph those daily routines is a great place to begin to see the magic of your everyday life and personal story. Life really does slip by so fast, and it is often those small everyday things that we end up missing the most. Photographing them helps us to not only remember but to truly live in the present with a full sense of gratitude.

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Tracey tells us, “The majority of life as we know it happens within our own four walls. Each room in our home serves a purpose. The irony is, in the average collection of family photographs the traces of home that tell the sacred story of family life don’t always exist.”

Taking the time to see the stories that happen in the different spaces of our home or home’s away from home, can be a great consideration in finding those everyday stories to tell. What memories do we daily make in the kitchen, the bedroom, the playroom, the car, the bathroom, or even the backyard? Those spaces each hold unique daily experiences that make up our lives.

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What are your favorite things? What are your children’s favorite things at the moment? Sometimes the objects of our affection stay constant but most often they change with the season or the stage of life. Our affections are the very essence of who we are, for they represent where we put our time and our love. Perhaps it’s a sport, maybe it’s a favorite toy or a blanket. Maybe it’s a pop star or a fantasy book series. Regardless, documenting our affections represents a significant part of our life story.

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How to Photograph Our Stories

Knowing “what” to photograph is only the beginning of this exciting adventure. Tracey then leads you through many creative ways to consider “how” to photograph your images to add that artistic flare that is the secret of turning a snapshot into something much more compelling.

Tips on using your camera: If the camera has been a bit of a mystery to you, Tracey takes the time to explain the basic function of many of the different modes on the camera, helping you to take advantage of many of the features that can artistically improve your photos that you may not have been aware of before. Though the bulk of the book is not about how to operate the camera (there are plenty of books like that already written), you will find those necessary little gems here if you need it.

Beyond the technical, Tracey dives into significant creative and compositional tips that can make an impact on the quality of your photos.

My favorite tip for how to photograph is to consider a creative use of framing.

FRAMING: Tracey points out how this is especially important when using your cell phone camera. She says, “Because the technical elements are stripped away from your mobile camera, creative framing becomes the key.”

Looking for ways to creatively frame your photo could include shooting from a high perspective, a low perspective, shooting through something, hiding behind something. All of these different perspectives help to add visual interest to the photograph and draw the eye to your subject. It’s a great secret for making an otherwise mundane snapshot into something more exciting. Because this tip is not a technical one, Tracey says, “…it’s a great way to get out of snapshot mode while tapping into your creativity.”

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In summary, Elevate the Everyday: A Photographic Guide to Picturing Motherhood, delivers on the promise of its inspired title. If you are looking for a fresh approach to photographing your own life in a way that helps you value and appreciate the intricacies of your everyday life, you’ll want to be sure to get your own copy. For what could be better than learning to see your own life as magical, just the way it is? Exactly.

7 Responses

  1. I am not sure whether to say thank you or to be mad at you! I too have a photography book addiction and I was trying to cut back! This sounds like a book I need though and after this a axing review how can I not get it.

    1. Ha ha! Heather, I totally understand! I have too many books as it is, (and even have a bundle of them ready to sell and give away because I’ve tired of them 😉 but this one speaks to the heart 🙂 It’s not just about the technical side…in fact, it’s hardly about the technical side! It’s all about the philosophy, and most importantly about photographing inside your home! The most important place of all! Even though I already shoot this way in large part, I found myself with highlighter in hand just loving her descriptions and finding new ideas for what I could photograph in my own family. Pure delight 🙂 Good luck!

  2. I love this! I’ve been doing this for the last fifteen years with scrapbooking and project 365. It’s such a wonderful thing that makes you see life on a much deeper level. Stopping to photograph life and the simple things has been a wonderful way for me to add a feeling of gratitude because I have to STOP and take it all in, in order to photograph it. And then later take it all in again when looking through photos.

    Love all your beautiful photos Brooke! As always wonderful job on Studio 5!

    Looks like I’ll be adding to my book collection! 🙂

  3. Brooke, How can I ever thank you enough for this amazing review and for speaking on behalf of my book (and myself) on Studio 5? I’m just giddy over here with what you took away from the book and to see your stunning images. I’m just totally blown away and so so grateful. Thank you so much!

  4. Hopefully she gives strategies on how to approach your own story with family even in the stressful times, which in a large family seems to be constant. I’ll be searching for a copy this weekend!

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