Kodachrome

My father-in-law, Steve, is one of the hardest people to buy a gift for. He’s a classic case of having everything all his needs and not really wanting much. It’s really a wonderfully fortunate position to be in, but still makes it hard when you want to make sure they’re included in the gifting on Christmas.

I really pride myself on giving good gifts. I put a lot of thought into making sure what I buy is meaningful to the recipient, or at the least, something they really desire. Since I was striking out in the material department for Pete’s father though, I decided to try a different route. What if I gave him an experience?

The Christmas before last, my mother-in-law gave him the same DSLR camera that Pete bought me a few years ago. My father-in-law loved photography when he was younger and often spoke fondly of his camera. I had a feeling that, like me, he hadn’t spent much time studying how to use it beyond point and shoot. So, I booked us a private lesson with John of Elizabeth Craig Photography to learn how to use them together.

I don’t think Steve was quite sure what to expect when he opened his gift certificate, and I explained what we’d be doing. But once we got into the studio for our lesson and began learning how to really use it, I could see he was getting into it just as much as I was.

The lesson was awesomely informative. John patiently explained the essential elements of taking a photo – lighting, exposure, and composition – with a focus on the elements of exposure. He gave Steve and I plenty of breaks along the way so that we could practice our new-found knowledge. Two hours flew by, and I definitely felt like I was starting to control what the camera was doing rather than just using it as another point and shoot.

In fact, the only thing I was disappointed with was that when drilled down,  the concepts were so simple! I no longer could use my camera as an excuse for my bad photos. They are really just the result of user error! Lol. There’s obviously a lot of practice and beyond the basics tools that I will continue to learn, but it was awesome to have the “mystery” behind photography exposed. <– See what I did there?

As Steve continued to wear his camera around his neck at lunch and take pictures using the techniques we learned, I knew that this gift would be enjoyed beyond that day. It is also nice to have someone else in the family to compare notes with as I practice shooting.

From now on, I’m going to try to gift more experiences. In a world where many of us already have too much stuff, it offers the recipient so much more than the purchase price.

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