What Were We Thinking?

In Life by Lisa Burnett

We have asked ourselves that question a million times.  It always seems we have a million ideas in our head. But sometimes when we try one of those ideas,  what we were thinking doesn't quite work out the way we had planned.  And because we are in the midst of our book release, I thought I would share one of those "What were we thinking?" moments. 

So here's the story.  About 2 years ago, we were asked to submit a book proposal to C&T Publishing.  We were so excited and got to work on it right away.  (What we didn't know was how long of a process this book thing was).  Anyway, we decided we wanted a book to have chapters that were rooms in a house- such as the kitchen, living room, nursery, etc.  Each room would then feature projects from that room.  But we also wanted the book to have an outdoorsy (is that a word?), feeling, where all of the photography was done outdoors.  So to show the publishers our vision, we created about 10 projects for our proposal and photographed them in a meadow/creek area that is owned by my sister and her husband.  Keep in mind, this was just a proposal, so we had the freedom to try anything we wanted, we were just hoping they liked our idea.  

After we submitted our idea and photos, the publishers replied with a yes just a few days later.  We were thrilled.  Not only did they approve of the idea, they loved the photography.  We were then in total shock when they asked us to not only write the book, but do all the photography as well.  Are you kidding me?  Of course we would do that.  We would love to do that.  We have all the professional photography equipment.  We love taking photos.  In fact, not a whole lot of people know we actually take photos for other people- babies, kids, families, senior pictures, (we even have a wedding next month).  But that business is so limited for us because we just don't have the time to devote to it as much as we would like.  But taking photos for our book?  Now that was something we would definitely make time for.

So the next step was to create projects for the book.  We already had 10, so we just needed about 25 more.  I don't know why I said "just".  25 is a lot.  But we had until the end March of 2010 to complete the book and photography.  So in August of 2009, we thought that would be easy, we would have plenty of time. 

That was the first "what were we thinking?" moment.  That isn't plenty of time.  Especially when we have about 100 other things going on.  Our plan was to have all of the projects and writing done by the first of March, so we would have the entire month for the photography.

March.  In Colorado.  It was like all 3 of us hadn't spent our entire lives here.  March is the snowiest month in Colorado.  The wind blows approximately 50 mph on most days.  I'm not kidding.  It can be miserable for the entire month.  That's not to say you won't get a day or two or three that can be beautiful.  But if you do, you are darn lucky.  So what were we thinking trying to photography an entire quilt book in the middle of a meadow in March in Colorado?  Yikes.

Fast forward to March 20, 2010.  Panic has set in.  No photos and they are due in eleven days.  We haven't had one single day where you could actually take a quilt outside without it blowing away in about 10 seconds.  The other problem is the meadow isn't exactly easy to get to.  You need a pickup and Susan's husband to navigate the way.  It has also snowed quite a bit, and everything is so muddy, not only will we get stuck, the photos aren't going to look too appealing with mud in the background. 

So a couple of days later, we decided at about 10 am that we were just going to have to try it.  So we loaded up 2 vehicles full of everything we needed- chairs, tables, benches, beds (yes beds), doors, baskets, plates, and all of our book projects.  That alone took a few hours.  So about one in the afternoon we actually got to the meadow and had high hopes of everything going well.  It was the nicest day of the month- about 65 degrees, with wind at only about 15 mph.  This was the best it was going to get. 

Our next problem was trying a place in the meadow that was actually green.  But it had to have shade.  We were in the middle of the day, and anyone who has ever taken pictures knows that nothing looks too good in full sun at 1:00 in the afternoon.  So we did what we could do in the shade, but for most things, we had to wait until around 4:00 so the sun was just right.

By this time we are all exhausted from simply moving furniture and stressing out about the whole thing.  But, we did it.  We got the photos.  About 300 of them.  We knew they wouldn't use all of them, but at least they would have choices.  Here are a few shots from that day:



Yea!  We were done.  Now all that's left is to pack everything up, navigate our way out of the meadow and unload all of the furniture.  We finally were finished at about 9:00 pm.  It was such a relief to not have to stress out about this anymore and not have to check the weather forecast every hour.

Now- for the absolute worst part of the story:

At about midnight that night, I was excited to download the photos and see how they turned out.  As I was downloading, I pulled out our book contract and photo instructions.  I wanted to know where I needed to send the pictures.  That's when I saw it.  The sentence that brought tears to my eyes, literally.  All photos need to be shot in RAW. 

Oh my gosh.  (That's not exactly what I said).  I forgot about the whole RAW thing.  If you don't know, RAW is a file format that is much larger than a regular jpeg photo file.  It contains a lot more information about a photo, and supposedly yields higher quality results.  I really don't think a normal person could tell the difference between a photo shot in RAW and a high quality jpeg, but a published book,should be shot in RAW.  I've shot in RAW before.  It's not hard, there is just a setting on my camera that I have to turn it too.  But I rarely do.  RAW files are huge, and I don't usually use it because I can't really tell the difference, and I don't want to use up so much of my computer's memory. 

But this is a disaster.  All the photos taken that day are now useless.  The moving of 2 different beds to a meadow was now a waste of time.  The feeling of accomplishment has now left my body.  And tomorrow morning, I'm going to have to tell my mom and sister we have to do it again.

Which we did.  The next day.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn't as good, and the wind wasn't quite so cooperative.  And I actually liked the first day's pictures better than the second day's.  Of well.  We live and learn.  And what we learned is that we will never, ever, take photos of quilts in a meadow.  In Colorado.  In March. 

But the meadow in August, now that is a delight.  I'll just share a couple of senior photos we took there last week.


Sorry for the long story!  We laugh about it now, and just chalk it up to another "what were we thinking?" moment.  Have a great day.