Matt Knutson: It’s OK to let someone else take the wheel

Published 8:56 pm Thursday, August 10, 2017

Things I tell my wife, By Matt Knutson

“I think this might be the last year I take our anniversary photo,” I told my wife after looking at last year’s photo. On our first anniversary we took a picture while holding a frame that included a favorite photo from our wedding. The next year, we took a photograph of us holding the same frame displaying our first year’s anniversary photo. Each year we continue the tradition with the previous year’s photo, creating a single photo that links all the way back to our wedding day.

Being a somewhat capable photographer, I’ve always set up the tripod, turned the camera’s dial to the timer feature, and ran into the frame with my wife. This worked great for our first years of marriage. It would normally take me awhile to find the perfect background and pose us so we looked nice, but we’d get the shot after a few laughs. Last year was a different story, as a child truly changes everything.

Email newsletter signup

Our daughter was 7 months old on our anniversary, and we knew we wanted to evolve our yearly picture into a family photo while continuing the past years’ tradition. As you might suspect, Gracelyn did not cooperate. The best image I took had Sera and I looking nice and our daughter staring at something off camera with her hand in her mouth. We didn’t have enough time to try again later that day, so we accepted what we had and called it good. It wasn’t disappointing, but it also wasn’t the dream photograph I had imagined.

This year, Gracelyn is older and more likely to smile if I do something goofy, so I’m somewhat optimistic. I’ve also perfected a new technique, in which I pose Sera and Gracelyn perfectly, take the photo, then run into the frame later and take a nearly identical photo, and merge them together using Photoshop. This should maximize the number of smile opportunities we have while preventing any frustration from Gracelyn, who is growing more impatient by the day. A deeper look into her behavior may reveal both an early glimpse into life with a 2-year-old, as well as a little girl who might not be thrilled for a baby sister to be joining in a few months. For now, I’ll assume she’s just passionate about what she wants to do and when she wants to do it.

It’s the addition of Gracelyn’s sister that makes me think this photographic endeavor is not sustainable. I can’t have Sera holding Gracelyn, the next baby and a photo frame as I run back and forth to the tripod (or at least I shouldn’t). That much potential stress will likely only lead to frustration — something we should probably try to avoid on our anniversary. Instead, we’ll have to retire my camera and do the unthinkable: Hire a professional.

I’ve never been a big fan of being photographed, so one of the perks of being the photographer is that I can choose whichever photo I want and edit it accordingly. I can also see in real time what I look like and make adjustments to ensure the photo will turn out just how I like it. That’s a lot harder to achieve when you have a professional working to bring your vision to life. Letting go of that control is hard.

Recently, it’s become more apparent to me that life works in a very seasonal way. Some seasons are high, some are low and some teach you different lessons that you may not have realized you needed to learn. If I were to guess what my current season in life is teaching me, I’d place a bet that it’s teaching me to let go of what’s not important. It’s great to be in the driver’s seat of life, but sometimes letting someone else take the wheel and marveling at what they do with it is so much more worthwhile. Truthfully, on the rare occasion when I have selected a photographer, I’ve never been disappointed by their work. Why would our anniversary photo be any different? Hopefully after next week’s photoshoot I won’t be wishing I had let go one year earlier.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.