Family: Camping

The night before we left

Trying fiercly to foster family unity we made a trip to the unnecessarily expensive camping destination “El Capitan” in Santa Barbara.

It was three years ago when we filled our van with what was required to slumber in the “wild” and drove the 5 hours through piles of traffic in LA and then we slogged the final 30 miles on highway 101 through muddy, cruddy levels of cars.

This happened before we discovered the miracles of in the car DVD players.

Honestly, the little people weren’t aged enough to appreciate the Live Band that played near Midnight. They weren’t of the maturity to enjoy riding bicycles uphill to admire a gorgeous sunset. They didn’t have enough experience to taste the solace or the abundance of quiet both Samantha and I dreamed of.

“Whaaaaa. Crying. He’s touching me! I’m hungry! Are we going home now? Can we go back to McDonalds for dinner again? I never want to ride my stupid bike again!”

The last night of our trip I pushed the energy out of myself to shoot some photographs.

This was the mood: Sober, contemplative, tired, exhausted, anxious, grief-filled, tired.


Technical notes about the photograph:

Rolleiflex FX. Portra 160NC film. 1/30 f5.6.
The composition is a diagonal line running from the lower right corner where you see the flames in the firepit directly to Baileys eyes on the chair looking at the viewer and then zig-zaggin to Sam and Lily.

Then take the same path back out of the photograph. A path in a photograph is important. It’s not always there but Joel Meyerwitz said “you need to have a place for the viewer to enter the photograph and space for them to exit”.

Without the flames in the corner you cannot “feel” the temperature of the scene. The blanket that Bailey hides beneath is another visual clue to tell us the temperature. The sun has gone down. The light is soft and allows your eye to see every part of the scene.

This photograph is especially effective in larger sizes like 16×16.

-Jon Ball is a portrait photographer living in Boise Idaho. His portrait photography can be found at

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